TSX BULLETIN: Ledecky wins women’s 400 m Free at U.S. Swim Trials, but Walsh shocks with 100 Fly world record!

Gretchen Walsh was happy with her heats win in the 100 m Fly on Sunday. She felt better after a world record in her semi! (Photo: USA Swimming on X)

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≡ U.S. OLYMPIC TRIALS:
SWIMMING ≡

The U.S. Olympic Trials in swimming finally got underway on the floor of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, with two first-day finals and Katie Ledecky on her way to a fourth Olympic Games in Paris in July.

But the headline came in the first event, the semifinals of the women’s 100 m Butterfly.

First up was Torri Huske, the American Record holder and world leader at 55.68, who dominated the first semifinal, ahead by daylight at the turn and winning in 55.79, the no. 18 performance all-time and no. 6 all-time in American history (she had all six).

Then came 21-year-old Gretchen Walsh in semi two, who swam 55.94 in the heats to move to no. 2 all-time U.S. She blasted out from the start, and moved brilliantly underwater for about half of the final lap, coming up late to move smartly to the wall in a world record of 55.18!

That destroyed the 55.48 mark by Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games … in a semifinal! Walsh, 21, won a 2023 Worlds bronze in the 50 Fly and has been superb all spring, winning three individual NCAA titles and three relays at Virginia this year. Now she’s a world-record holder!

Regan Smith, the World Champion in the 200 m Back in 2019 and 100 m Back in 2022, was second to Walsh in 55.92, but now no. 3 in the world for 2024 and no. 7 all-time!

It’s the first world record set at the U.S. Trials since 2008 – with the introduction of the non-textile suits – when six world records were set, plus one tie.

Ledecky came later, in the 400 m Freestyle final, who ran out to a 2.64-second lead at 200 m and 2.49 seconds by 300 m and then pushed to the wall in 3:58.35, moving to no. 2 in the world for 2024. It’s no. 13 performance of all-time, of which she owns six.

It’s Ledecky’s fourth Olympic team and she’ll be in a fight to remember with world-record holder Ariarne Titmus and Canada’s Summer McIntosh.

Meanwhile, Paige Madden – also a Tokyo Olympian in this event, finishing seventh – got a lifetime best of 4:02.08 for second, now seventh in the world for 2024. Jillian Cox was third in 4:06.89, also a seasonal best.

In the men’s 400 m free final, 19-year-old Aaron Shackell had the fourth-fastest qualifying time, but took the lead immediately in lane six and would not be challenged. He led throughout and turned back not only the rest of the field, but also achieved the Olympic qualifying standard along the way.

He made the final turn ahead of David Johnston and Kieran Smith, the Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist, and stormed to the wall in 3:45.46, under the Olympic standard of 3:46.78, and moving from no. 47 on the 2024 world list to no. 8.

Behind him, Smith rallied for second in 3:45.76, followed by Johnston (3:46.19) and Tokyo 800-1,500 m Free winner Bobby Finke (3:46.27). The top five all surpassed the Olympic standard.

Shackell is a second-generation Olympian, as his father Nick swam for Britain in the 100 m Free in 1996.

The first of the men’s 100 m Breaststroke semifinals had six in a line across with 20 m to go, and Josh Matheny won in a seasonal best of 59.42, with Liam Bell getting a lifetime best of 59.57 in second. World Champion Nic Fink headlined the second semi and was barely ahead (+0.07) of Tokyo relay gold medalist Michael Andrew at the turn. But in the final 10 m, it was red-capped Charlie Swanson who passed both and touched first in 59.34, his second lifetime best of the day and now no. 14 on the 2024 world list.

Fink was second in 59.46 and Andrew third in 59.65 and both advanced to tomorrow’s final.

What a start! Sunday’s finals include the women’s 100 m Fly, the men’s 100 m Breast and men’s 400 m Medley. Morning sessions are shown on USA Network and Peacock, and the finals are on NBC and Peacock at 8 p.m. Eastern.

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