Five-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky and Olympian Jordan Wilimovsky each cruised to national championships in the 800-meter freestyle Wednesday night to open the 2018 Winter National Championships.
For Ledecky, she put her up her 20th fastest career swim in the event with an 8:14.40, nearly 14 seconds faster than second-place Ashley Twichell. Erica Sullivan was third in 8:29.02. With the win, Ledecky became the first swimmer to earn a 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials cut. She did not threaten her own world record of 8:04.79.
Wilimovsky also earned a cut while becoming the only man to swim under eight minutes. His time of 7:56.88 topped Brennan Gravley (8:09.95) and Ross Dant (8:10.99). That was the third-fastest swim of Wilimovsky’s career, trailing only his performance at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships and the 2018 U.S. nationals. But Wilimovsky was second in those events to Zane Grothe.
Both Ledecky and Wilimovsky were the top seeds and favorites in the 800. The men’s 800 is a new addition to the Olympic program for 2020.
The winter nationals continue through Saturday from the Greensboro Aquatic Center in Greensboro, North Carolina.