TYR Pro Series San Antonio, Day Two Finals (Women’s Events): Katie Ledecky Swims 2024’s Second-Fastest Time in 400 Freestyle

Katie Ledecky of United States of America prepares to compete in the 400m Freestyle Women Heats during the 20th World Aquatics Championships at the Marine Messe Hall A in Fukuoka (Japan), July 23rd, 2023.
Katie Ledecky -- Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

TYR Pro Series San Antonio, Day Two Finals (Women’s Events): Katie Ledecky Swims 2024’s Second-Fastest Time in 400 Freestyle

A strong field has assembled this weekend in San Antonio for the final TYR Pro Swim Series meet before the 2024 Olympic Trials, with many top Americans and foreign swimmers in attendance, including many swimmers competing for the first time since either the World Championship in February or the NCAA Championships last month.

The Thursday night session began with an exciting 100-meter freestyle showdown that saw Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey come out on top of a strong group of Americans. The session also featured the last two Olympic gold medalists in the women’s 100 breaststroke, Lilly King and Lydia Jacoby, in action in their main event, while American-record holder Regan Smith highlighted the 200 butterfly. Finally, Katie Ledecky showed off her usual dominance in the 400 freestyle as she swam the second-quickest time in the world this year.

Women’s 100 Freestyle

This final featured many of the top contenders to race for the United States on the 400 freestyle relay at this summer’s Paris Olympics, but Siobhan Haughey, the Olympic silver medalist and No. 3 performer ever in the event, was able to upstage the field by a narrow margin as she had the quickest splits both going out and coming home. Haughey went 25.35 and then 27.39 on her way to a final mark of 52.74, just off the 52.56 she swam for silver at last month’s World Championships.

But in the race behind the Hong Kong standout, the Americans recorded a handful of exceptional times. Kate Douglass, the top American in this event since the Tokyo Olympics with a best time of 52.57, got under 53 once again as she touched in 52.98. Just behind was Torri Huske in 53.08, with Huske just off her lifetime best of 52.92 recorded on her way to bronze in the event at the 2022 World Championships.

Gretchen Walsh, who clocked an insane time of 44.83 in winning the NCAA title in the 100-yard free last month, placed fifth in 53.17, just three hundredths shy of her best time, while Simone Manuel was fifth in 53.25. Manuel’s time was her best time since making a comeback to the sport a year-and-a-half ago. The American swimmers now rank fifth, sixth, eighth and ninth in the world, respectively.

100 freestyle

Women’s 100 Breaststroke

Lydia Jacoby could not keep pace with the field of short course breaststroke standouts at last month’s NCAA Championships, but her San Antonio performance set up Jacoby well as she aims for a return trip to the Olympic Games and an attempted defense of her 2021 gold medal. Jacoby was out in 30.97, a tenth quicker than closest competitor Kaitlyn Dobler and more than a half-second clear of world-record holder and 2016 Olympic gold medalist Lilly King.

Jacoby always closes strongly, and her second split was quickest in the field at 34.77. She raced to a final time of 1:05.74, which made Jacoby the third-fastest swimmer in the world behind China’s Tang Qianting (1:05.27) and King (1:05.67). Jacoby surpassed the 1:05.94 she swam to win bronze at last year’s World Championships.

Meanwhile, the University of Virginia’s Emma Weber had a breakout swim to finish second. Her closing split of 34.81 was almost as fast as Jacoby’s, and she ended up finishing in 1:06.50, her best time by almost nine tenths and good enough to vault her to No. 13 in the world rankings. King was third in 1:06.53, ahead of Dobler (1:06.71) and Anna Elendt (1:06.81), while Douglass, fresh off a runnerup finish in the 100 free, took sixth (1:06.85).

Women’s 200 Butterfly

In recent years, Regan Smith has established herself as the clear No. 1 performer in the United States in the 200 fly, and on a global stage, the only swimmer capable of matching her is Canadian teenager Summer McIntosh, the two-time world champion in the event. Smith was the Olympic silver medalist in the 200 fly in 2021 and the World Championships bronze medalist last year.

Smith swam an impressive mark of 2:04.80 at the last stop of the Pro Swim Series in Westmont, Ill., the top time in the world this year ahead of McIntosh’s best of 2:05.73, and Smith appeared poised to challenge that mark after going 2:05.92 in prelims. In the final, Smith was several bodylengths clear of a strong field, outsplitting everyone else in the race on each split except the last one, when Caroline Bricker slightly closed the gap, but Bricker started that length more than four seconds back.

Smith ended up touching in 2:05.97 after swimming a nearly identical race to her prelims performance. She came in more than three-and-a-half seconds clear of the field, with Longhorn’s Dakota Luther coming in at 2:09.51, just ahead of Smith’s Sun Devil training partner Lindsay Looney (2:09.64) and Bricker (2:09.89). The Texas duo of Kelly Pash (2:10.12) and Emma Sticklen (2:10.32) were the next to finish.

Women’s 400 Freestyle

Katie Ledecky established her best 400 freestyle time thus far in 2024 as she dominated many of her top American rivals in San Antonio. Each of Ledecky’s splits were under 31 seconds as she established a sizzling pace and showed no sign of fading down the stretch. Ledecky ended up swimming a time of 4:01.41 in the victorious effort, much quicker than her previous 2024 best of 4:03.46 from the first Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., in January.

Globally, Ledecky improved to No. 2 in the world this year, ahead of the paces of top rivals Ariarne Titmus and Summer McIntosh and behind only the 3:59.44 that New Zealand’s Erika Fairweather swam in a golden effort at the World Championships in February.

The clear No. 2 swimmer in the race was Paige Madden, now representing the New York Athletic Club while training at Arizona State University. Madden’s only previous occasion representing the United States in major international competition came at the Tokyo Olympics, when she joined Ledecky in the 400 free final, and her mark tied in San Antonio tied the mark she swam to place second behind Ledecky at the 2021 Trials. She has only been quicker once, with a 4:03.98 in prelims in Tokyo.

Third place went to Longhorn’s Jillian Cox in 4:07.61, with a three-second gap back to the rest of the field.

400 freestyle

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