Distance queen Ledecky rules over 800 free heats

Fri Jul 1, 2016 2:48pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

OMAHA, Nebraska (Reuters) - Katie Ledecky swam the third fastest time ever in the women's 800 meters freestyle as she dominated her heat at the U.S. Olympic trials on Friday.

Ledecky, world record-holder in the 800 free, kept something in reserve but still clocked eight minutes, 10.91 seconds in the event in which she is the reigning Olympic and world champion.

Her world record is 8:06.68. She owns the 10 fastest times in her signature event, and is on course to start a hot favorite in Rio in August.

Such was her dominance that Ledecky touched the wall before some swimmers in her heat had made the turn at the other end of pool, finishing 18 seconds in front of Ashley Twichell.

Leah Smith was second fastest to qualify for Saturday's final but was still more than 10 seconds back of Ledecky in 8:21.64.

Ledecky, who has already qualified for Rio with wins in the 200 and 400 free, has shouldered a massive workload at the trials, entered in every freestyle event from the 50 to 800.

The 19-year-old will be back at the CenturyLink Center later on Friday for the 100 free, where she will be focused more on getting into the relay pool than getting home first.

"This is a little different; I don't think I've done this before, 800 free prelim and then a big time 100 free final, it will be fun, a little different," said Ledecky, looking barely fatigued after her sizzling performance.   Continued...

July 1, 2016; Omaha, NE, USA; Katie Ledecky during the women's 800m freestyle preliminary heats in the U.S. Olympic swimming team trials at CenturyLink Center. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports