U.S. Open: Summer McIntosh Tops Katie Ledecky in 400 Free; Kate Douglass Pulls Off Double (Women’s Recap)

Summer McIntosh --Photo Courtesy: Emily Cameron

U.S. Open: Summer McIntosh Tops Katie Ledecky in 400 Free; Kate Douglass Pulls Off Double (Women’s Recap)

When Katie Ledecky and Summer McIntosh were part of a highly-anticipated showdown with Ariarne Titmus in the women’s 400 freestyle at this summer’s World Championships, Ledecky finished ahead of McIntosh, although both were nowhere close to the record-breaking speed that Titmus showed off. Thursday evening at the U.S. Open, Ledecky and McIntosh faced off over eight laps for the first time since Fukuoka, and this one was all McIntosh, leaving the veteran distance swimmer several seconds in the dust.

Later on in women’s action, the two most recent world champions in the women’s 200 IM faced off with two rivals better known for other events while the top American sprinters were all in the mix in the 50 free, but Kate Douglass pulled off an impressive double to win both events just minutes apart.

Women’s 400 Freestyle

Katie Ledecky — Photo Courtesy: Emily Cameron

It was no contest between Summer McIntosh and Katie Ledecky, the second and third-fastest performers in history, respectively, as the Canadian teenager out-split the American veteran on all eight lengths. McIntosh was up by just three tenths after 100 meters, but the margin was more than one-and-one-quarter seconds at the halfway point. McIntosh was then able to hold 30-low splits over the back half of the race while Ledecky fell off further, down to 31s on the final two laps.

In the end, McIntosh finished in 3:59.42, a little over three seconds off the time of 3:56.06 she clocked in March that was, at the time, the world record. Ledecky, meanwhile, came in at 4:02.38. She previously clocked 3:58.73 in her silver-medal swim at this summer’s Worlds.

Third place was a tight battle for most of the race, with Indiana’s Anna Peplowski, Longhorn’s Leah Smith and Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey all occupying that slot at different points in the race. In the end, Haughey pulled away from Smith on the final 50 to touch in 4:06.32, with Smith fourth in 4:06.80, ahead of Paige Madden (4:08.01) and Peplowski (4:09.91).

Women’s 200 IM

Alex Walsh, Kate Douglass & Torri Huske — Photo Courtesy: Emily Cameron

Three different swimmers had the lead at different points in the women’s 200 IM A-final but never 2022 world champion and 2021 Olympic silver medalist Alex Walsh. Walsh ended up posting a very solid performance as she finished second, but it was her University of Virginia teammate Kate Douglass who scored top honors, just like she did at this summer’s World Championships.

Douglass was in dead last at the halfway point after a 35.01 backstroke split, which was more than a full second behind anyone else in the field. But then Douglass annihilated the breaststroke leg with a 36.11 split to pull into a slight lead while Walsh, who split 37.43 on breaststroke, was right behind. Douglass ended up coming in at 2:08.46, a solid mark when compared to her all-time best of 2:07.09 that ranks her sixth all-time.

Walsh was second in 2:08.96, about two seconds short of her best time (2:07.13) while Torri Huske, who was in first place after her signature butterfly leg, placed third in 2:09.10, knocking six tenths off her previous best time (2:09.75).

Israel’s Anastasia Gorbenko was fourth in 2:09.38 while Sun Devil’s Regan Smith ended up fifth at 2:09.50 after she scorched a 30.75 backstroke split that put her in the lead by almost two-and-a-half seconds and under world-record pace. But Smith struggles on breaststroke, and even a 30.39 freestyle split, the quickest in the field, could not get her back into contention.

Women’s 50 Freestyle

Kate Douglass was less than 30 minutes out of the 200 IM when she took to the blocks for the 50 free, but she ended up touching first in that as well. Swimming between top rivals Abbey Weitzeil and Torri Huske and with University of Virginia teammate Gretchen Walsh two lanes away, Douglass had the best closing speed to reach the wall in 24.38, three hundredths ahead of a tie for second between Weitzeil and Huske at 24.41, with Walsh one hundredth further behind (24.42).

Douglass swam her best time by two hundredths while Huske also edged her best time by three hundredths. Weitzeil was the top-ranked American this year, swimming a time of 24.00 to win the splash-and-dash at U.S. Nationals while Walsh, who clocked 24.31 to finish second at Nationals, joined her on the World Championships team.

A fast heat also included Siobhan Haughey (24.62), Melanie Henique (24.76), American-record holder Simone Manuel (24.82) and Claire Curzan (24.92) breaking 25, while Kristina Paegle (24.93) and Olivia Smoliga (24.99) also got under the mark in the B-final.

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