2019 World Championships Predictions: How Close Can Ariarne Titmus Get to Katie Ledecky?

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Ariarne Titmus has consistently been under 4:00 the last 12 months; Photo Courtesy: Twitter, @SwimmingAUS

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USA’s Katie Ledecky has been in a league of her own this decade in the distance freestyle races. In the 400 free, she has won three straight World titles after prevailing in 2013, 2015 and 2017. She has a chance to win a fourth this summer to become just the third woman in World Championships history to do so. Ledecky would join the exclusive club with Sarah Sjostrom in the 100 fly (2009, 2013, 2015, 2017) and Katinka Hosszu in the 400 IM (2009, 2013, 2015, 2017).

But Ledecky doesn’t look as invincible this year. Australia’s Ariarne Titmus got within a second of Ledecky at the 2018 Pan Pacs last summer when Titmus became the third woman to break 4:00 all-time in this event. Titmus has been a 3:59.35 this year, which is not far off of Ledecky’s 3:59.28 from Santa Clara. Still, Ledecky owns the 12-fastest times in history, and her world record of 3:56.46 is light years beyond what anyone else has managed.

Could Titmus challenge for the gold medal? Or will she remain in search of a way to surpass Ledecky?

The bronze medal is definitely up for grabs with the likes of American Leah Smith set to do battle with the Chinese duo of Wang Jianjiahe and Li Bingjie, who have both been 4:03s this year. Wang was the Asian Games champion in 2018 and broke the world record in short course meters in this event at a World Cup meet before Titmus lowered it at the World Short Course Championships.

Hungary’s Ajna Kesely, who was the Youth Olympic Games gold medalist, could also factor into the medals. But the 17-year-old still has some room to improve.

The European Champion in 2018 was Italy’s Simona Quadarella, who seems to be improving every single year. She has only been a 4:06 this season but was a 4:03 in 2018. She might be a bigger threat in the 800 and 1500, but she shouldn’t be counted out.

Current Records:

World Record: Katie Ledecky, USA (2016) — 3:56.46
Championship Record: Katie Ledecky, USA (2017) — 3:58.34
American Record: Katie Ledecky (2016) — 3:56.46

2017 World Champion: Katie Ledecky, USA – 3:58.34
2018 Virtual World Champion: Katie Ledecky, USA – 3:58.50 (Pan Pacs)
2019 Fastest Times:

  1. 3:59.28, Katie Ledecky, USA
  2. 3:59.35, Ariarne Titmus, AUS
  3. 4:03.29, Li Bingjie, CHN
  4. 4:03.77, Wang Jianjiahe, CHN
  5. 4:03.86, Leah Smith, USA
  6. 4:04.70, Ajna Kesely, HUN
  7. 4:05.30, Kiah Melverton, AUS
  8. 4:05.56, Boglarka Kapas, HUN

Swimming World’s team of Andy RossDan D’AddonaDavid RiederDiana Pimer and Taylor Covington will be selecting their medalists for the World Championships in each event. Read below who everybody picked.

Everyone’s Picks:

  1. Katie Ledecky, USA
  2. Ariarne Titmus, AUS
  3. Leah Smith, USA

5 comments

  1. Brett Davies

    This time I think it will be extremely close and I would not be surprised if Ledecky loses this one.

  2. Lauren Robinson

    Not close enough to beat her. Ledecky is a tough cookie. 🇺🇸

  3. avatar
    Michael Fitzmaurice

    Ledecky will win by over a body length, possibly 2-3. At Olympics, much closer but same result. Ledecky is the greatest female swimmer of all time and the 2nd greatest swimmer (male or female) ever.

    • avatar
      Doping Truth

      I rate Ledecky ahead of Phelps since Phelps swam predominantly Fly and failed in the Free. Don’t forget that Phelps goal was to emulate Thorpe in the 200 and 400 free. He lost by body lengths to Biederman.

  4. avatar
    Jim Ed C

    It would be more accurate to say that Ledecky’s world record is light nanoseconds beyond what anyone else has managed–about 16 light nanoseconds.