Katie Ledecky earns ticket to Paris Olympics with 400m freestyle win, notching her best time in event since 2022

INDIANAPOLIS — Seven-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky punched her ticket to the Paris Olympics on Saturday night, finishing first in the women’s 400-meter freestyle final in 3:58.35.

It is her best time in the event since 2022.

The top two finishers in each event at U.S. Olympic swimming trials qualify for Paris. Paige Madden finished second in the event on Saturday.

Ledecky, 27, is again expected to be one of the headliners for Team USA this summer at her fourth Games. If she wins three gold medals at the Paris Olympics, she will pass former Soviet Union gymnast Larisa Latynina for the most gold medals by any woman in Olympic history.

Here in Indianapolis, Ledecky will also swim the 200 free (primarily for relay purposes) as well as the 800 free and the 1500 free. She is the current world record-holder in both the 800 and 1500 free, two events in which she’s singularly dominated for much of the past decade.

Ledecky took gold in the 400 free in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and took silver in the COVID-delayed Tokyo Games, finishing behind Australian star Ariarne Titmus in Japan. The competition in the event in Paris will be even stiffer, with Canadian phenom Summer McIntosh in the mix as well. In March 2023, McIntosh set a new world record in the event — which was then broken by Titmus at 2023 World Championships.

Last week at Australian trials, the 23-year-old Titmus swam the 400 free in a blistering 3:55.44, just .06 off her own world record. She will be the swimmer to beat at this distance at the Games.

Aaron Shackell and Kieran Smith qualified to Paris for Team USA in the men’s 400 free.

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(Photo: Al Bello / Getty Images)

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