Katie Ledecky touched the wall far ahead of everyone else at the U.S. swimming trials.
No surprise there.
But she was taken aback by the time. It wasn’t as fast as expected, raising the stakes for an expected showdown in Tokyo with the Aussie Terminator.
Ledecky earned a trip to her third Olympics with a never-in-doubt victory in the women’s 400-meter freestyle Monday night.
She was a good five body lengths ahead of runner-up Paige Madden, touching the wall in 4 minutes, 1.27 seconds.
But the winning time was far off Ledecky’s world record of 3:56.46, which she set almost five years ago at the Rio Olympics.
Another time on everyone’s mind: Ariarne Titmus won the 400 free at the Australian trials on Sunday with the second-fastest performance in history – 3:56.90.
Ledecky wasn’t even close to Titmus’ performance.
“Very much a blur,” Ledecky said. “I thought I could go a little faster than that, so I’m a little surprised. But I’ll take it for now.”
Titmus, a 20-year-old known as “The Terminator,” has made it clear that she’s not intimidated by Ledecky’s longtime dominance in the distance events.
Titmus told reporters Down Under that the 24-year-old from the nation’s capital is “not going to have it all her own way. I can’t control what she does, (but) if I do the best I can and put myself in the position to win a gold medal, it’s going to be a tough race.”
While Ledecky is a familiar face on the American team – she’s won five gold medals and one silver at the last two Summer Games – the second night of the trials also signaled a changing of the guard.
Two Olympic rookies locked up their spots for Tokyo: teenager Torri Huske captured the women’s 100 butterfly, and Michael Andrew held on to win the men’s 100 breaststroke.
Huske was under world-record pace at the turn but faded just a bit on the return leg. Still, she touched first in 55.66 seconds, breaking the national mark of 55.78 that she set the previous night in the semifinals.
The 18-year-old from Arlington, Virginia, came up short of the world record (55.48) set five years ago by Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom at the Rio Games.
“I don’t even know what to do,” Huske said. “I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I feel like it hasn’t really sunk in. It’s really crazy.”
An even younger swimmer, 16-year-old Claire Curzan of Cary, North Carolina, took the expected second spot on the Olympic team at 56.43.
Andrew has taken an unorthodox path to the Olympic team. He turned pro at age 14 and was trained by his father in a backyard pool, using methods that stressed short bursts of sprint swimming over the grueling routine of endless laps.
It paid off in Omaha. The 22-year-old Andrew pulled ahead on the outward lap and desperately held on at the end, touching in 58.73 – a bit slower than he went while setting two American records the day before.
Andrew Wilson was second, just one-hundredth of a second behind. He is also expected to make the Olympic team. Missing out was Nic Fink, who settled for third in 58.80.
Huske and Curzan knocked off 2016 Olympian Kelsi Dahlia, who was known as Kelsi Worrell when she competed in Rio. Dahlia was fourth in 56.80.
Huske is one the swimmers who benefited from an extra year of training when the Tokyo Olympics were postponed a year because of the pandemic.
She is set to attend Stanford in the fall.
“I feel like (the one-year delay) really helped me because I was able to work on my strength training,” Huske said. “I feel like it makes a big difference in my second 50. I tend to fly and die – how fast can I go out and hang on.”
• Olympic champion Ryan Lochte failed to advance from the preliminaries of the 200-meter freestyle, his first event of the trials.
The 36-year-old Lochte, attempting to make his fifth Olympic team, posted a time of 1 minute, 49.23 seconds – only good enough for 25th place overall. The top 16 advanced to the evening semifinals, led by Kieran Smith at 1:46.54. Caeleb Dressel was second in 1:46.63. Smith won the 400 free on Sunday to earn his first trip to the Olympics.
Lochte was also entered Monday in the 100 backstroke, but he scratched that event. Defending Olympic champion Ryan Murphy easily advanced from the preliminaries, as did 36-year-old Matt Grevers, the 2012 gold medalist. Even though Lochte initially entered six events at the trials, it appears the 200 individual medley is the only race in which he has any realistic shot of earning a trip to Tokyo. He scratched the 400 IM on Sunday.
Lochte has won 12 Olympic medals, including six golds. Now married with two children, he hopes to make it to one more Olympics to erase the stigma of an incident at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, where he lied about being robbed at gunpoint.
CFL: The CFL is going ahead with its 2021 season. The league’s board of governors has voted unanimously in favor of an amended collective bargaining agreement and starting the campaign on Aug. 5.
The CFL did not play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The league unveiled plans in November for a full 18-game season that was to have started in June. The start was later pushed back to August and the number of games was reduced to 14. The league title game, the Grey Cup, also was pushed back three weeks to Dec. 12.
WTA/ATP RANKINGS: French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova’s twin titles at Roland Garros earned jumps in the WTA rankings to No. 15 in singles and No. 1 in doubles.
The women’s and men’s rankings released Monday determine which players are eligible to compete at the Tokyo Olympics, which start next month. Each country can send as many as four women and four men in singles, and 17-year-old Coco Gauff rose two spots to a career-best No. 23, which makes her the fourth-highest woman from the United States.
Gauff is behind No. 5 Sofia Kenin, No 8 Serena Williams and No. 14 Jennifer Brady. Jessica Pegula is No. 26, with Madison Keys at No. 28.
The WTA Top 10 didn’t change, including Ash Barty at No. 1 and Naomi Osaka at No. 2.
Novak Djokovic remained at No. 1 in the ATP rankings after claiming his second French Open title — and 19th at a major tournament — by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7 (6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in Sunday’s final.
Tsitsipas went up one spot to No. 4, his best, swapping places with 2020 U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem.
Daniil Medvedev stayed at No. 2, followed by Rafael Nadal. Roger Federer is No. 8.
Roberto Bautista Agut rejoined the Top 10 by rising one notch from 11th; Diego Schwartzman slid from 10th to 11th.
WIMBLEDON: Wimbledon will be allowed to have a full crowd of 15,000 at Centre Court for the men’s and women’s finals next month, a year after the tournament was canceled entirely because of the coronavirus pandemic, the British government said Monday. The grass-court Grand Slam tournament, which begins June 28, can have 50% capacity at the start and that will increase to 100% by the close on July 10-11 with the women’s and men’s singles title matches.
The government’s decision to ease COVID-19 restrictions on crowds will also allow for increased attendances at soccer’s European Championship and other sporting events.
“We want to gather further evidence on how we can open up all big events safely, and for good,” Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said in a statement. “In the next few weeks this means more fans enjoying the Euros and Wimbledon, and some of our biggest cultural and sports events.”
Wimbledon’s cancellation in 2020 was the first time since World War II that the tournament hadn’t been played.
HALLE OPEN: Roger Federer returned to the court with a win over qualifier Ilya Ivashka on Monday as the Swiss player chases his 11th Halle Open title after withdrawing from the French Open to prioritize the grass-court season.
Federer held serve throughout in a 7-6 (4), 7-5 win over his Belarusian opponent but didn’t break until the last game of the match. Federer is now 69-7 in career matches in Halle, Germany, his favored warmup for Wimbledon. Five of his eight career Wimbledon titles have come after winning Halle the same year.
Federer pulled out of the French Open after the third round last week, saying he wanted to look after his fitness following two knee operations.
Also Monday, Sebastian Korda of the United States upset sixth-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 7-6 (0) despite being ranked 42 places below his Spanish opponent at 52nd
QUEEN’S CLUB: Wild-card entry Jack Draper earned his first ATP Tour match win on Monday by eliminating third-seeded Jannik Sinner 7-6 (6), 7-6 (2) in a matchup between 19-year-olds in London.
“He played the important points better than me. … He deserved to win,” said Sinner, who is ranked 23rd. The 309th-ranked Draper, who hit 11 aces Monday, is from England and was the 2018 boys’ runner-up at Wimbledon. He said he hopes this victory over Sinner improves his chances of receiving a wild card to play at the All England Club, where the next Grand Slam tournament begins June 28.
The left-hander’s only previous tour-level match came at the Miami Open in March, when he retired because of a heat-related illness after dropping the opening set. Since then, Draper said, he tore an abdominal muscle and “only started serving about three days ago.”
In other first-round action Monday, John Millman withstood 27 aces from Reilly Opelka and edged the American 7-6 (4), 5-7, 7-6 (6); Cameron Norrie hit 14 aces in a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Albert Ramos-Viñolas; and Adrian Mannarino eliminated Liam Broady 6-4, 6-4.
WNBA: The WNBA will hold its All-Star Game in Las Vegas on July 14 pitting the U.S. women’s national team that will play in the Olympics against some of the league’s best players.
Voting for the WNBA’s team, which starts Tuesday, will be determined from a pool chosen by fans, players and media. Players can vote for themselves.
Coaches will chose the 12-player WNBA team from the top 36 vote-getters who aren’t on the U.S. Olympic 5-on-5 team. Coaches can’t vote for their own players.
The 12-member U.S. Olympic team roster hasn’t been announced yet, but is expected to be released later this month. They will hold a training camp in Las Vegas prior to departing for Tokyo.