OMAHA, Neb. - The race was 400 meters, but it seemed effectively over after the first 25. It wasn’t much longer before the public address announcer at CenturyLink Center intoned, “It’s Katie Ledecky against the clock.”
That would be the case, as it is in most of Ledecky’s races of 400 meters and longer, where she usually is competing only against herself.
But it turned out that this U.S. Olympic Team Trials race Monday night wasn’t over, even if Ledecky never was in real danger of losing. As she fell off her stunning pace for the first half of the race, it allowed Leah Smith to create some suspense with the best swim of her career.
“The last 150 meters, I kept telling myself, ‘Rio, Rio, Rio,’” Ledecky said, knowing she needed to touch the wall first to guarantee getting there, even if the top two in every event are virtually certain to go.
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