Atlanta Classic: Katie Ledecky Shines With 3:58 400 Free; Kate Douglass Wins Two More

Katie Ledecky -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Atlanta Classic: Katie Ledecky Shines With 3:58 400 Free; Kate Douglass Wins Two More

Swimming the 400 freestyle under four minutes has become utterly routine for Katie Ledecky, with the seven-time Olympic champion having broken the barrier 23 times over the last decade. Her 24th such swim came Saturday evening at the Atlanta Classic, and it marked Ledecky’s fastest in-season mark in five years. In a 15-second victory, Ledecky touched in 3:58.84, which is the 16th-quickest time ever recorded.

Only Summer McIntoshAriarne Titmus and Ledecky have ever been quicker, with Ledecky’s American record standing at 3:56.46. Ledecky’s previous season-best time was 4:00.20 from the Knoxville, Tenn., stop of the TYR Pro Swim Series in January, while Titmus has yet to break 4:00 this season. McIntosh, however, set the world record at 3:56.06 at the Canadian Trials in late March. A potential showdown between all three stars at this year’s World Championships projects as one of the most anticipated races of the year.

Meanwhile, Kate Douglass swept two more victories after winning the 100 breaststroke and 100 butterfly Friday. She topped the 50 free in 24.40, knocking a tenth off her best time and moving into a tie for third in the world (along with fellow American Abbey Weitzeil and China’s Zhang Yufei, behind Sarah Sjostrom and Shayna Jack). Douglass’ Virginia teammate Maxine Parker notched a quick time of 24.94 for second place.

Later, Douglass dominated the 200 breast in a time of 2:22.75, just off her best time (2:21.43) and faster than she went on the way to Worlds bronze in the event last year. Russia’s Evgeniia Chikunova set the world record in the 200 breast earlier this year at 2:17.55, but nobody else has eclipsed 2:22 so far this year, with Douglass’ time ranking fourth globally behind Chikunova, the Netherlands’ Tes Schouten and Denmark’s Thea Blomsterberg.

On the men’s side, Caeleb Dressel’s first meet in 11 months continued with the 50 free, and he came in third in a swift field, with the top four swimmers (all Florida Gators) finished within two tenths. Macguire McDuff got the win in 22.42, eight hundredths ahead of Josh Liendo (22.50). Dressel finished in 22.57, and Adam Chaney hit the wall in 22.61.

McIntosh is racing exclusively off-events this week, but she nearly broke 1:00 for the first time in the 100 backstroke, finishing in 1:00.06, while Tennessee’s Josephine Fuller recorded a strong time of 1:00.37 for second. Mabel Zavaros won the 200 fly in 2:11.33, edging out Callie Dickinson (2:11.47) and Leah Gingrich (2:11.54).

Florida’s Alfonso Mestre finished the men’s 400 free in 3:48.06, with his Florida teammates and Olympic finalists Kieran Smith (3:49.01) and Jake Mitchell (3:49.91) taking second and third, respectively. Matt Fallon grabbed the 200 breast win in 2:12.44, and Tennessee’s Martin Espernberger held off Bobby Finke to win the 200 fly, 1:57.20 to 1:57.58. Virginia’s Jack Aikins went 54.61 to win the 100 backstroke, with Tennessee’s Nick Simons second (54.90).

Meet Information

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