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Night for familiar names at U.S. swim trials as Ledecky, Murphy, King and Grimes win

Grimes will be swimming indoors and outdoors

By PAUL NEWBERRY, AP National Writer
Published: June 17, 2024, 7:54pm
4 Photos
Katie Ledecky celebrates afterthe Women's 200 freestyle finals Monday, June 17, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis.
Katie Ledecky celebrates afterthe Women's 200 freestyle finals Monday, June 17, 2024, at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) Photo Gallery

INDIANAPOLIS — It was a night for familiar names at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials.

American backstroke star Ryan Murphy is headed to his third Olympics. So is breaststroke queen Lilly King. And the most prominent name of all, Katie Ledecky, locked up a second individual race in Paris.

Let’s not forget Katie Grimes, who’ll be swimming indoors and outdoors at the Summer Games.

In a hectic session featuring five finals, Ledecky made it two-for-two in Indy by touching first in the 200-meter freestyle Monday.

Having already won the 400 free on the opening night of the trials, Ledecky showed her speed on the final lap to take the victory in 1 minute, 55.22 seconds.

Still to come for Ledecky, her two best events: the 800 and 1,500 freestyle.

She’ll be joined in Paris by Claire Weinstein, runner-up in the 200 free at 1:56.18. Paige Madden and Erin Gemmell are also assured of relay spots in the 4×200 free relay after finishing third and fourth, respectively, with the next two — Anna Peplowski and Alex Shackell — also in the mix for relay spots.

Murphy won the men’s 100-meter backstroke to continue a run of excellence that dates to his breakout at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The 28-year-old Floridian touched in 52.22 and now gets a chance to add to his already impressive resume, which includes four golds, one silver and one bronze.

“I’ll appreciate my career a little bit more when I’m done swimming,” Murphy said. “Then I can zoom out. Now I’m really zoomed in on everything I’m doing on an every day basis.”

Murphy is fired up for these Olympics after settling for a silver and a bronze in his individual races at Tokyo.

“There’s definitely no shortage of motivation on my end,” he said. “I want to win every time I touch the water.”

Hunter Armstrong claimed the likely second Olympic spot in 52.72 — edging Jack Aikins by two-hundredths of a second.

The 27-year-old King thrilled her home-state fans at Lucas Oil Stadium by taking the 100 breaststroke in 1:05.43.

She has said that her third Olympics will be her last. She’s already got two gold, two silvers and one bronze in her stellar career.

“This is unbelievably special,” King said, marveling at the massive home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, now the center of the swimming world. “You can hear your voice echo in here. I love swimming here.”

Emma Weber was the runner-up in 1:06.10 — edging Tokyo gold medalist Lydia Jacoby by 0.27, which means the Alaska native won’t get a chance to defend her title in Paris.

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Grimes has already clinched a spot in open water, which will be held in the Seine River. She added a pool spot with a victory in the women’s 400 individual medley.

Grimes built a big lead through the butterfly and backstroke legs, surrendered the top spot to Emma Weyant on the breaststroke, but rallied in the freestyle to take the guaranteed spot for Paris in 4:35.00.

At Tokyo, Grimes was the youngest member of the entire U.S. Olympic team at 15.

She’s a veteran now.

Weyant, the silver medalist in this event at the Tokyo Games, took the expected second spot for these Olympics in 4:35.56.

Grimes also qualified for the final of the 200 freestyle, but she finished last in the eight-woman field.

The Olympic vets didn’t hoard all the glory. Luke Hobson earned his first trip to the Summer Games with a victory in the men’s 200 freestyle.

The 20-year-old Hobson, a college star at Texas, touched in 1:44.89. Chris Guiliano pulled a surprise from lane one, taking the second individual spot for Paris in 1:45.38.

Drew Kibler and Tokyo medalist Kieran Smith were third and fourth, respectively, guaranteeing a spot on the 4×200 relay at the Olympics. The next two, Brooks Curry and Blake Pieroni, will likely be on the team, as well.

Regan Smith broke her own American record in the women’s 100 backstroke in a semifinal heat, setting herself up to go for an Olympic berth in the final Tuesday.

Smith, whose time of 57.47 eclipsed the mark of 57.51 she set a month ago, bounced back after just missing a spot in the 100 butterfly with a third-place finish.

That was a disappointment, to be sure, but also gave her a boost in her signature stroke.

“I dropped a second in one season in the butterfly,” Smith said. “That gave me a lot of confidence going into this 100 backstroke.”

The big crowd also got a glimpse of the future in 14-year-old Audrey Derivaux, who surprisingly claimed the last spot in the 400 IM final.

She was second to Grimes at the midway point of the race couldn’t hold on, finishing last in 4:46.89.

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