Olympics: Katie Ledecky Returns From Silver Medal Earlier in Day to Top Qualifying in 200 Freestyle

Jul 27, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Katie Ledecky (USA) after the women's 200m freestyle heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

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Olympics: Katie Ledecky Returns From Silver Medal Earlier in Day to Top Qualifying in 200 Freestyle

The decision to hold morning finals at this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo translates to a unique scenario in which athletes who competed in a championship race in the morning often find themselves racing the preliminaries of an event at night. That setup doesn’t provide much time for athletes to reset, although that is exactly what Katie Ledecky did on Monday night.

Hours removed from a silver-medal finish in the 400-meter freestyle, the American star returned to the pool and posted the top seed in the heats of the 200-meter freestyle. Ledecky delivered a time of 1:55.28, just ahead of the 1:55.38 recorded by Canada’s Penny Oleksiak. Earlier in the day, Ledecky had the lead through the 300-meter mark of the 400 free, but was tracked down and passed in the final 100 by Australia’s Ariarne Titmus, who etched herself as an Olympic champion.

Ledecky and Titmus are two of the six finalists in the 400 free to enter the 200 freestyle, and Titmus qualified fourth into the semifinals of the shorter distance. Titmus checked in with a swim of 1:55.88, a hundredth back of the 1:55.87 turned in by countrywoman Madison Wilson. Rounding out the top-five was Canada’s Summer McIntosh, the 14-year-old phenom who touched the wall in 1:56.11. McIntosh was fourth in the 400.

“I felt really good actually, quite refreshed even though I swam this morning so I’m really happy with it,” McIntosh said. “I’m really excited to go into the semi.”

The event featured the past three Olympic champions in Italy’s Federica Pellegrini (2008), the United States’ Allison Schmitt (2012) and Ledecky. While Ledecky looked sharp, Pellegrini narrowly advanced to the semifinals after a 15th-place time of 1:57.33.

“Before the race I was calm and aware of the good work I had done,” Pellegrini said. ” … I will have to do a completely different race and attack from the outside lane. I feel tired, and recovery will be very important.”

As for Schmitt, she was 12th in 1:57.19.

Women’s 200 Freestyle

World Record: Federica Pellegrini, Italy, 1:52.98 (2009)
Olympic Record: Allison Schmitt, United States, 1:53.61 (2012)


1. Katie Ledecky (United States) 1:55.28
2. Penny Oleksiak (Canada) 1:55.38
3. Madison Wilson (Australia) 1:55.87
4. Ariarne Titmus (Australia) 1:55.88
5. Summer McIntosh (Canada) 1:56.11
6. Yang Junxuan (China) 1:56.17
7. Barbora Seemanova (Czech Republic) 1:56.38
8. Siobhan Haughey (Hong Kong) 1:56.48
9. Isabel Gose (Germany) 1:56.80
10. Charlotte Bonnet (France) 1:56.88
11. Freya Anderson (Great Britain) 1:56.96
12. Allison Schmitt (United States) 1:57.10
13. Annika Bruhn (Germany) 1:57.15
14. Erika Fairweather (New Zealand) 1:57.26
15. Federica Pellegrini (Italy) 1:57.33
16. Valeriia Salamatina (Russia) 1:58.33