Ledecky on course for a busy time in Budapest

Katie Ledecky competing in the 200m freestyle final during the US Swimming National Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Wednesday. She won the race in 1min 54.84sec and could potentially contest six events at the World Championships in Budapes
Katie Ledecky competing in the 200m freestyle final during the US Swimming National Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Wednesday. She won the race in 1min 54.84sec and could potentially contest six events at the World Championships in Budapest next month. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

CHICAGO • Katie Ledecky claimed another national title in another year's best time in winning the 200m freestyle at the US Swimming National Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Wednesday.

The five-time Olympic gold medallist notched her 12th career national title with a time of 1min 54.84sec as she ramps up for the World Championships in Budapest from July 14-30.

The 20-year-old reigning world and Olympic 200m champion defeated Leah Smith by 1.84 sec.

On Tuesday, the opening night of the meet, she qualified for the 800m freestyle in a year's best time (8min 11.50sec) and also qualified for the 1,500m freestyle.

Should Ledecky - who won four golds at the Rio Olympics last year - finish in the top two in today's 400m freestyle, she will be in line to contest six events in Budapest, including relays. It will be her busiest schedule yet at an Olympics or world championships.

"I'm really happy with that, I felt good," said Ledecky, who used a fast swim in the prelims (1:55.87) to shake off any sluggishness from the previous day's 800m race.

"It felt like a great race. I've been slowly improving throughout the spring and here too."

The 200m freestyle is the only race in which she does not hold the world record. Asked if she is going after either the world record (1:52.98) or the American record (1:53.61), Ledecky shrugged, smiled, then said: "I don't know. I'll take it step by step and see what I can do in the event.

"I'm starting to have it down to a science almost - number of kicks and how things should feel in the race and how I should split it. I'm certainly growing in confidence in that race."

Ledecky won the world 400m, 800m and 1,500m freestyle titles and shared in a 4x200m freestyle relay win in 2013 in Barcelona and then defended those crowns while adding the 200m freestyle world title in 2015 in Russia.

At the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Ledecky could compete in at least six races - more if she decides to add the 400m individual medley, which she mostly uses as a training race, or a mixed relay, another event added to the Tokyo slate.

Only one female swimmer has ever won more than four golds at a single Olympics: East German Kristin Otto won six in 1988.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2017, with the headline 'Ledecky on course for a busy time in Budapest'. Print Edition | Subscribe