Five-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky made more history Wednesday night at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials, becoming the first American woman to qualify to swim the 1500-meter freestyle at an Olympic Games. She went 15:40.50, more than 10 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Erica Sullivan.
As if that wasn't monumental enough, there was an added challenge for Ledecky to overcome: the final for the 200-meter freestyle took place just over an hour earlier. And in a feat that epitomizes the scope of her talent, Ledecky finished in 1:55.11, the top time in the event.
It's only fitting that Ledecky, the greatest distance swimmer ever, was the first to pull off the grueling double at Trials. Her schedule wasn't entirely unprecedented, however, as she had already competed in the 200 semifinal and 1500 final in one session at the world championships in 2015 and 2017 -- but the stakes were higher in Omaha.
Ledecky has previously noted in interviews that the U.S. men were not subject to the same tough Trials schedule, as the 200 free final took place Tuesday and the 1500 is set for Sunday.
As the owner of the 10 fastest 1500 times in history, Ledecky will be the presumptive gold medalist in Tokyo, where the event is included in the women's program for the first time at an Olympics. Ledecky will look to build on her Rio 2016 performance, where she became the first woman to win the 200, 400 and 800 freestyles in one Games since 1968.
It won't be an easy road to accomplishing the mid-distance and distance event sweep, as Australia's Ariarne Titmus has emerged as legitimate rival over the past two years. Last weekend, Titmus dropped the No. 2 times in history in both the 200 and 400, scaring both world records (Ledecky owns the latter).
At the 2019 World Aquatics Championships, Titmus became the first woman to defeat Ledecky in a distance event -- the 400 -- at a major international competition. Domestically, it's been seven years since the 24-year-old Ledecky lost a a freestyle race of 200 meters or longer.
Ledecky clinched her Olympic berth in the 400 freestyle on Sunday at Trials and is entered in the 100 and 800 freestyles later in the week.