OMAHA, Neb. — Katie Ledecky, the most decorated woman in swimming history, qualified for her third Olympic team with ease Monday night in the 400 freestyle.
But her time of 4:01.27 was underwhelming, surprising her and likely ensuring she will not be favored for the 400 freestyle gold medal in Tokyo next month.
“It wasn’t the best-feeling 400,” said Ledecky, who was more than two seconds off her best time of the year, nearly five seconds slower than her world record of 3:56.46 set at the Rio Olympics and well behind the 3:56.90 swum by rival Ariarne Titmus at the Australian Olympic trials Sunday.
“I thought it was a lot faster than that, so I was a little surprised by the time,” she said right after her race. “It’s pretty tough for the first race here. I always remember five years ago, it was not a fun race. It’s just good to check the box and hopefully have some good swims the rest of the week.”