Katie Ledecky swam her last race before the national championships in typical Ledecky fashion, posting the fastest time in the world this year in the 200-meter freestyle on Sunday to win her second event at the Arena Pro Swim Series in Santa Clara, California.
Ledecky’s time of 1 minute, 55.34 seconds was the fastest this year by three-tenths of a second and also set a new meet record, beating the previous mark of 1:55.68 set by Femke Heemskerk in 2015. The win comes two nights after Ledecky posted the sixth-fastest time in history in the 1,500 freestyle. Her next appearance will be at the Phillips 66 National Championships, part of the Team USA Summer Champions Series, presented by Comcast, which begin June 27 in Indianapolis.
Ledecky, a Stanford freshman who is in the midst of writing her final papers of the semester, was pleased with the result.
“Obviously it’s my fastest of the season, but it also felt the best,” said Ledecky, who led by well over a body length at the halfway point. “It gives me good confidence moving forward the next couple of weeks.”
Siobhan Haughey, a 2016 Olympian for Hong Kong, was second with a time of 1:58.14.
The men’s 200 freestyle was considerably tighter, as it promised to be after all nine finalists were separated by just 1.07 seconds in the morning’s prelims. In the final, the top five finishers were separated by just five-tenths of a second, but what was even more impressive was the fact that Olympian Jay Litherland got the win approximately 20 minutes after blowing away the field to win the 400 IM for an improbable double victory.
Litherland’s winning time in the freestyle was 1:49.28, followed by Long Gutierrez with 1:49.49 and Conor Dwyer, who is swimming in his first full meet since the Olympic Games Rio 2016, in 1:49.53. Litherland’s winning time in the 400 IM was 4:13.79. Abraham DeVine finished second in the 400 IM with a time of 4:17.57.
Madisyn Cox, who just missed making Team USA and going to Rio last summer, scored her second win of the competition when she beat three-time Olympian Elizabeth Beisel in the 400 IM to start the night. Cox had built a nice lead by the last lap, finishing in 4:39.07 to add to her first-place finish in the 200 breaststroke on Friday night. Beisel, who is just returning to competition following a post-Olympic break, finished in second with a time of 4:44.77.
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Three-time Olympic gold medalist Ryan Murphy won the 200 backstroke in 1:57.09, followed by fellow Olympian Jacob Pebley in 1:57.41. Hilary Caldwell won the women’s 200 backstroke in 2:09.20.
Simone Manuel, who won the 100 freestyle Friday night, did not race in the 50 freestyle. Her Stanford and Team USA teammate Lia Neal finished second in 25.12, just short of winner Kelsi Worrell with a top time of 25.11. Vladimir Morozov of Russia won the men’s 50 freestyle in 21.97.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.