By Jim Rusnak//Director of Media Properties | Sunday, August 7, 2016
RIO DE JANEIRO – Any time Katie Ledecky dives in the water, some record, somewhere, is in danger of going down.
In the prelims of the women’s 400m freestyle Sunday, the record in question was the Olympic record of 4:01.45, set by Camille Muffat at the 2012 Games in London. Ledecky shattered it, turning in a time of 3:58.71. It was the second-fastest performance of all time in that event, and she now owns nine of the 10 fastest performances of all time in the 400m free.
She remains just one of two women to swim it in under four minutes, which she has now done eight times.
“That’s the easiest it’s felt going under four minutes, so I think it’s all good for tonight,” Ledecky said. “I think my last stroke was a little lackadaisical, so I shouldn’t have done that. But, whatever. I think I’ll be fine tonight.”
Ledecky qualified for tonight’s finals of the 400m free as the top seed, more than four seconds ahead of the second seed, Jazz Carlin of Great Britain (4:02.83). U.S. Teammate Leah Smith is the third seed in 4:03.39.Ledecky took the race out easy, but was off her world-record pace by just three-hundredths of a second at the 350-meter mark.
“I wanted to practice going out a little easier and getting into the right tempo,” Ledecky said. “I’m coming off the 100 from yesterday, and I didn’t want to spin my wheels too much, so I just kind of backed off and kept it easy up front. I know that’s when I swim my 400 the best – when I can be really strong at the end.”
Smith is also a contender for hardware tonight. While she may be competing in her first Olympic final, it’s not her first meet on the international stage.
Smith won gold in the 400m free at the 2015 World University Games, gold in the 800m free relay at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships and gold in the 800m free relay at the 2015 FINA World Championships.
She finished second to Ledecky in the 400m free and 800m free at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Omaha.
The last time an American took gold in the women’s 400m free was Brooke Bennet at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. Allison Schmitt won silver in this event in London.
In addition to the 400m free, medals are on the line in three other finals tonight: the women’s 100m butterfly, men’s 100m breaststroke and men’s 400m free relay.
Here’s a look at those events:
Women’s 100m Butterfly
1. Sarah Sjostrom, SWE, 55.84 (Olympic Record)
2. Emma McKeon, AUS, 56.81
3. Rikako Ikee, JPN, 57.05
4. Dana Vollmer, USA, 57.06
Dana Vollmer will be competing in her second final of the meet tonight after winning silver in the women’s 400m free relay Saturday. Vollmer is the defending Olympic champion in this event. However, her Olympic record fell in last night’s semifinals to world record-holder Sarah Sjoestrom of Sweden. Vollmer’s American record of 55.98, which she set at the Games in London, still stands.
Vollmer is back on the international scene for the first time since the 2013 World Championships. In March of 2015, she gave birth to her son Arlen. Five months later, she finished fourth in the 100m fly at the U.S. National Championships. She followed that up in December with a win in the 100m fly at the 2015 AT&T Winter Championship, and finished second at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials to qualify for the Team. Her time at Trials made her the third-fastest swimmer in the world this year in the 100 fly.
Vollmer is a five-time Olympic medalist (four gold) competing in her third Olympic Games. She is one of 13
American female swimmers to have won five career Olympic medals. She is also one of three parents on the team, including backstroker David Plummer and Michael Phelps.
The U.S. has medaled in four of the last five Olympic Games in the women’s 100m fly. No athlete has ever won this event twice at an Olympic Games.
Men’s 100m Breaststroke
1. Adam Peaty, GBR, 57.62
2. Cody Miller, USA, 59.05
3. Cameron van der Burgh, RSA, 59.21
5 Kevin Cordes, USA, 59.33
Americans Cody Miller and Kevin Cordes will be swimming in their first Olympic finals tonight in the men’s 100m breaststroke. Miller has really come alive on the international scene in the last three years, competing for the U.S. at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships and winning gold at the 2015 FINA World Championships as a member of the 400m medley relay.
Cordes set the American record in the semifinals of the 100m breast in 58.94 at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Omaha, making him the third-fastest swimmer in the world this year in this event. He’s done well on the international stage, winning gold in the 400m medley relay, silver in the 200m breast and bronze in the 50m breast at the 2015 FINA World Championships.
The U.S. is hunting for its first gold in the 100m breast since 1992. The last American to medal in this event was Brendan Hansen, who won bronze in 2012 and silver in 2004.
Men’s 400m Free Relay
1. Russia, 3:12.04
2. USA (Jimmy Feigen, Ryan Held, Blake Pieroni, Anthony Ervin) 3:12.38
3. Australia, 3:12.65
The U.S. has won eight of the 11 times this event has been held in Olympic competition. The last time the Americans won gold was in 2008, when Jason Lezak swam the fastest relay leg of all time to come from behind and nip the French at the finish. In 2012, the U.S. took silver behind the French. Look for a new lineup for tonight’s finals, which should include Nathan Adrian, the 2012 Olympic Champion in the 100m free, and up-and-comer Caeleb Dressel. The legendary Michael Phelps may also be in the mix. The final lineup will be released an hour before competition.
Counting last night’s finals, the United States has won 523 Olympic medals in Olympic swimming, including 230 gold, 170 silver and 126 bronze, more than any other nation by a long shot.
The men have won 298 of those medals – 135 gold, 97 silver and 66 bronze. They now are just two medals away from the magic number of 300 total medals.
The women have won 223 medals overall, including 95 gold, 68 silver and 60 bronze. They are just five golds away from winning their 100th.
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