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Ledecky qualifies for 4th world championship event and then pulls out of 200-meter freestyle

Katie Ledecky swims her way to winning the women's 800-meter freestyle at the U.S. national championships swimming meet in Indianapolis, Tuesday, June 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Katie Ledecky easily won the 1,500-meter freestyle at the U.S. national championships on Saturday in Indianapolis, giving her at least three more chances to add to her world championship gold medal collection.

The 26-year-old Ledecky posted the sixth-fastest time in history, finishing in 15 minutes, 29.64 seconds — more than 28 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Katie Grimes. Ledecky qualified for the Americans in all four events she competed in this week, but announced she would not compete in the 200 free later this month in Fukuoka, Japan.

“I just really enjoyed it last year, being able to focus on the mile,” said Ledecky, whose 19 golds at worlds are the women’s record. “I’m still training for the 200 to throw down on that relay.”

Caleb Dressel did not make the team. He failed to qualify for the “A” final in his fourth and final event of the week, the men’s 50 free. Dressel, who won five gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics, had not competed at a high-level meet since withdrawing suddenly at last year’s world championships in Budapest, Hungary, because of health reasons.

Dressel was tied for 22nd with a time of 22.72 seconds in his preliminary heat but acknowledged he was satisfied with the results after his long layoff. He didn’t finish higher than third in any event.

“I’m doing good right now, very indifferent about my results,” he said. “There’s kind of like, ‘what just happened?’ but then also totally understanding what just happened.”

The top qualifier in prelims, Ryan Held, also won the evening final, finishing in 21.50 seconds — just ahead of Jack Alexy (21.63)

Two U.S. Open records also fell at the IU Natatorium on Saturday night. Kate Douglass set a new mark in the women’s 200 individual medley with a time of 2:07.09, beating out Alex Walsh (2:07.89).

And Bobby Finke cruised to a victory in the men’s 800 free in a record 7:40.34 — nearly eight seconds faster than second-place finisher Ross Dant.

In the two other events on the final night of the meet, Carson Foster beat Shaine Casas in the men’s 200 IM while Abbey Weitzeil held off Gretchen Walsh to win the women’s 50 free.

Foster was clocked at 1:56.19 and Casas at 1:57.47. Weitzeil finished in 24.00 seconds while Walsh posted a 24.31.