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Ledecky storms into 800m freestyle crown

JACOB KUPFERMAN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE KATIE Ledecky warms up ahead of the women’s 800m freestyle event of the US Open Swimming Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina.

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Seven-time Olympic champion Katie Ledecky eased to victory in the 800-meter freestyle on Wednesday in the opening race of the US Open Swimming Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Ledecky, the three-time defending Olympic gold medalist and current world champion in the 800m freestyle, posted a time of eight minutes and 15.91 seconds to win by almost 15 seconds.

Ledecky’s time was more than 11 seconds shy of her world record, set in 2016, and almost two seconds behind her winning time from last year’s US Open.

But the meet is a staging post for the 26-year-old Ledecky as she builds up towards next year’s Olympics, where she hopes to become the first woman ever to win four Olympic gold medals in one event.

The US Olympic team trials will be held in Indianapolis on 15 to 23 June 2024.

Fellow Olympian Paige Madden of Arizona State University, who is guided by former Michael Phelps coach Bob Bowman, finished second in 8:29.91.

Jillian Cox, a 19-year-old Texan who finished sixth at the World Championships in Fukuoka in July, was third.

Ledecky will be back in the pool for the 400m freestyle heats on Thursday.

In the men’s 800m freestyle, the withdrawal of world champion Ahmed Hafnaoui of Tunisia left Tokyo Olympic champion Bobby Finke as the favorite, but he surprisingly finished off the podium.

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