Ahead of Tokyo Games, Katie Ledecky vs. Ariarne Titmus Showdowns Taking Form

Ariarne Titmus and Katie Ledecky

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Ahead of Tokyo Games, Katie Ledecky vs. Ariarne Titmus Showdowns Taking Form

With the countdown to the Olympic Games at fewer than 100 days, greater hype will be placed on several impending individual showdowns in Tokyo. Caeleb Dressel vs. Kyle Chalmers. Lilly King vs. Yuliya Efimova. Shoma Sato vs. Anton Chupkov. Regan Smith vs. Kaylee McKeown. Gregorio Paltrinieri vs. Florian Wellbrock.

The above duels account for just a handful of the head-to-head clashes that are eagerly awaited at the Games. Of course, many of the athletes mentioned must still do their part and qualify to represent their respective countries. But, if they hold up their ends of the bargain, they will surely be headliners in late July.

Over the past two weeks, through the TYR Pro Series in Mission Viejo and the Australian Championships on the Gold Coast, one rivalry that will be the talk of Tokyo has started to take shape: Katie Ledecky vs. Ariarne Titmus. At the Games, Ledecky and Titmus should face off in the 200 freestyle, 400 freestyle and 800 freestyle, with the middle distance event the most-anticipated race.

The last time Ledecky and Titmus met was at the 2019 World Championships, where Titmus upset Ledecky for gold in the 400 freestyle. It is key to note (and Titmus herself has acknowledged this point) that Ledecky was beset by a stomach virus in South Korea and competed at less-than 100% – in addition to scratching a pair of events.

For her part, though, Titmus must be given credit for delivering the best performances of her career. Her time of 3:58.76 in the 400 freestyle was an Australian record, and she added a silver medal in the 200 free and a bronze medal in the 800 free. More, Titmus twice cracked the 1:55 barrier in the 200 freestyle, including a national record of 1:54.27 while leading off the world-record setting 800 freestyle relay.

Now, we are three months from (hopefully) three more chapters in the Ledecky-Titmus saga. As those potential meetings approach, it is appealing that Ledecky looked strong in Mission Viejo while Titmus was impressive at the Australian Champs. For Titmus, her efforts provided some confidence following a shoulder injury earlier this year.

“I was a bit nervous coming into (the 400 freestyle) and whether I was going out hard enough,” she said. “I had lost a bit of confidence to go out hard, especially after my injury, but I feel like I got that back. Racing well gives you the biggest confidence leading into the next meet, so I’m happy that I’ve ticked off what I needed to do here for those races.”

For Ledecky, her performances in Mission Viejo confirmed that she remains the favorite in any distance event she enters. In the 200 free, she took down the U.S. Open record, and her ability to go sub-4:00 in the 400 freestyle during the middle of training is something only Ledecky can pull off.

Here is a look at where each stand after having the opportunity to deliver a few markers for the rest of the world to consider.

Katie Ledecky (TYR Pro Series – Mission Viejo)

200 Freestyle – 1:54.40
400 Freestyle – 3:59.25
1500 Freestyle – 15:40.55

Ariarne Titmus (Australian Championships – Gold Coast)

200 Freestyle – 1:55.43
400 Freestyle – 4:01.34
800 Freestyle – 8:23.13

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