Katie Ledecky was feeling ready. So she went for the world’s fastest time of the year in the women’s 200-meter freestyle on Friday night.
And there’s no surprise as to what happened.
In her first event of this week’s TYR Pro Swim Series meet in Santa Clara, California, Ledecky, a five-time Olympic champion, blasted her way to a time of 1 minute, 54.56 seconds in the 200 free. It was the fastest time in that event this year and missed her Pro Swim Series record by 0.13.
“I’m real happy with that swim, given where I am right now,” Ledecky said on the NBCSN broadcast. “I wasn’t really going for it (the world’s best time), but I thought I could get (1):54.”
At last month’s Pro Swim Series in Indianapolis, Ledecky broke her own 1,500-meter freestyle world record and swam the second-fastest 400 and third-fastest 800 ever.
Ledecky’s victory came on a night when 12-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte returned from a 10-month suspension to swim his first Pro Swim Series event since before the Olympic Games Rio 2016. He finished sixth in the 200-meter breaststroke.
“The last 30 (meters) was brutal,” Lochte said.
Sixteen-year-old Regan Smith won the women’s 200 backstroke a mere 17 minutes after competing in the 100-meter butterfly. She won the 200 back in a time of 2:09.60, beating out Kylie Masse and Olivia Smoliga.
“I was really happy with what I was able to do in this race,” Smith said.
Seven-time world champion Caeleb Dressel dominated the men’s 100 butterfly, winning with a time of 52.20 seconds, 0.61 ahead of second-place finisher Andrew Seliskar. The two-time Olympic gold medalist had his fastest time of the season.
Lilly King, another two-time Olympic gold medalist, won the women’s 200-meter breaststroke in 2:24.97.
Three-time Olympic champion Ryan Murphy won a showdown in the men’s 200 backstroke with a time of 1:56.06, beating Japan’s Ryosuke Irie by three-tenths of a second.
In the men’s 400-meter individual medley, 2016 Olympic silver medalist Chase Kalisz racked up another victory. Ranked No. 1 in the world in the 400 IM, he won the race with a time of 4:11.62.
Other men’s winners included Olympic silver medalist Josh Prenot in the 200 breast and Seliskar in the 200 free.
Ella Eastin, an NCAA champion for Stanford, edged two-time Olympic medalist Leah Smith in the women’s 400 IM with a winning time of 4:38.99.
“We both pushed each other with this race in different parts of it,” Eastin said of Smith, who made it a close race in the final segment.
Kelsi Dahlia (née Worrell) won the women’s 100 fly in 57.55 seconds. She is ranked sixth in the world.
In the mixed 200-meter medley relay, Matt Grevers, Nic Fink, Dahlia and Abbey Weitzeil won it for Team (Lenny) Krayzelberg in a time of 1:43.40. Team (Kaitlin) Sandeno was 1.31 seconds behind, followed by teams representing Natalie Coughlin and Jason Lezak.
The Santa Clara meet continues Saturday and Sunday.
Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1996, when he was an assistant bureau chief in Atlanta. He is sports editor of the Cape Cod Times and a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.