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Katie Ledecky Wins Women’s 1500m Freestyle to Qualify for 2021 Tokyo Olympics

Jenna CiccotelliCorrespondent IIJune 17, 2021

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Before Wednesday night, there had never been a 1,500-meter women's freestyle final at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Of course, Katie Ledecky made history.

USA Swimming @USASwimming

𝗛𝗜𝗦𝗧𝗢𝗥𝗜𝗖.<br><br>The first ever Trials women’s 1500m free winner! 🇺🇸👏#SwimTrials21 | #TokyoOlympics pic.twitter.com/qYfUasCueD

The five-time gold medalist, who won the 200-meter freestyle event little more than an hour before heading back to the deck for the 1,500-meter, bested the field with a time of 15 minutes, 40.50 seconds to qualify to represent the U.S. in Tokyo when the event is held at the Olympics for the first time this summer.

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

Did you know @katieledecky’s broken the world record in the 1500m free SIX times?<br><br>Well now she’s heading to its Olympic debut!@USASwimming | #SwimTrials21 x #TokyoOlympics pic.twitter.com/YG81aEpnfQ

Her finish was the fastest time in the world this year. 

She was far in front of Erica Sullivan, who finished 15:51.18, a personal best. 

The finish was no surprise as Ledecky holds the top 10 times in the event. Her best time in the event in 2021 was 15:40.55, but she previously flew to a 15:29.51 finish last year—roughly nine seconds off her world record time from 2018. 

But this victory was perhaps even more impressive as it came so soon after her 200-meter freestyle win: 

Christine Brennan @cbrennansports

From the moment Katie Ledecky touched the wall in the 200 free to the moment she dove in for the 1,500 free: 1 hour 9 minutes 28.64 seconds. (I put a stopwatch on it.)

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In addition to the 200-meter freestyle, Ledecky had already qualified for Tokyo in the 400-meter free, an event that she holds the world record for with a time of 3:56.46. 

Later this week, she will try to qualify for the 800-meter freestyle and as a member of the 4x200-meter freestyle relay team.

The defending gold medalist in the 200-meter, 400-meter and 800-meter events, she'll look to add a brand new event to her repertoire in Tokyo. She didn't race the event at the 2019 Worlds, where Italian star Simona Quadarella finished in 15:40.89.

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