Katie Ledecky wins 400 free at Winter Nationals

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) - Katie Ledecky won the 400-meter freestyle Thursday night for second title in two days at the USA Swimming Winter National Championships, and fellow Olympic champions Simone Manuel and Nathan Adrian took the 50 freestyles.

Ledecky, who won gold medals in the 400 and 800 freestyle events at the 2016 Olympics and took the 800 to open the meet Wednesday, breezed in the 400, finishing in 4 minutes, 35 seconds to win by more than nine seconds. Ledecky and Manuel will race against each other Friday in the 200 freestyle.

Manuel, who tied for the gold medal in the 50 free in Rio, touched in 24.39 to edge Madison Kennedy by nearly a half-second. It was the first event for Manuel since the Pan Pacific meet in Tokyo in August.

"It was a pretty solid time, but there's definitely room for improvement," Manuel said. "I didn't really have goal times coming into this event. A lot of what (Coach) Greg (Meehan) talked about coming in was just getting into racing mode and kind of shaking off the cobwebs.

"I didn't think 24.3 was something I was going to go. I was actually pretty surprised with a 24.6 this morning (in the prelims). That's some pretty good feedback. I'm strong and I'm racing pretty well, so hopefully the rest of the weekend is just as good."

Manuel also is scheduled to compete in the 100 and 200 freestyles in the event that ends Saturday.

Adrian, who was the bronze medalist in the 50 freestyle at the 2016 Olympics, finished in 21.94 in his first competition since the Pan Pacifics and his wedding Sept. 15.

"I was really pleased with the way it felt more than anything" Adrian said. "The 50 is such an interesting stroke, and definitely through the fall, we're not working on the top end speed, but it all came together pretty decent here and I felt a lot of power. That's my sweet spot, so I'll definitely try and take that and move forward into the winter training cycle."

Jordan Wilimovsky, who won the men's 800-meter freestyle Wednesday, picked up his second win of the competition in the 400 free in 3:50.78. Madyson Cox took the women's 200 individual medley, and Christopher Reid won the men's race.

The Winter Nationals mark the opening of the qualification period for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Omaha, Nebraska, in June 2020.

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