TOKYO—Ariarne Titmus has defeated Katie Ledecky again at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
In fact, Ledecky didn’t even win a medal—the first time that’s ever happened to her at the Olympics.
The Terminator gave the Australian women their third individual swimming gold of these games with a victory in the 200-meter freestyle.
Titmus set an Olympic record of 1 minute, 53.50 seconds to make it 2-for-2 against the American star, following up a thrilling victory in the 400 free.
In the longer race, Titmus conserved her energy over the first half of the race, then rallied to pass Ledecky with the second-fastest performance in history.
Ledecky wasn’t even close in the 200, making the first flip in seventh place and never getting higher than her fifth-place showing at the end. The defending Olympic champion finished in 1:55.21—nearly 2 seconds behind the winner.
Ledecky faced a grueling morning that also included the final of the 1,500 free. She was a big favorite for gold in that race, which is new to the women’s program this year, giving her a chance to quickly make up for the disappointment of the worst Olympic showing of her career.
Siobhan Haughey of Hong Kong led much of the race before hanging on to take the silver in 1:53.92. The bronze went to Canada’s Penny Oleksiak in 1:54.70.
“Obviously having a great swim in the 400 gives me confidence coming into the 200,” Titmus said. “I thought my back end was definitely my strength in the 400. I knew I could have that on the way home in the 200.”
Titmus wasn’t all that pleased with her time, but it was good enough for another gold.
“Honestly, it’s not the time that I thought I could do this morning, but it’s the Olympics and there’s a lot of other stuff going on,” she said. “So it’s just about winning here. I’m very happy.”
Italy’s Federica Pellegrini of Italy finished seventh in her fifth and final Olympics. She won the gold in 2008 and is still the world record holder.
There were no surprises in the men’s 200 butterfly, with Kristof Milak of Hungary romping to a dominating—but rather nerve-wracking—victory.
Milak won the gold by about two body lengths despite having to hastily change suits before the race, which cost him a chance to break his own world record.
Milak said that he realized about 10 minutes before walking on deck that his suit was damaged. He told Hungarian reporters that he totally lost focus, though it was hard to tell from his performance in the pool.
He actually held up the suit in the mixed zone, putting a finger through the tear before tossing it on a table in disgust.
Milak still touched in an Olympic record of 1:51.25—more than a half-second off his 2019 world record (1:50.73) but some 2 1/2 seconds ahead of the silver medalist.
Japan’s Tomoru Honda finished in 1:53.73, while the bronze went to Italy’s Federico Burdisso (1:54.45).
South African star Chad le Clos finished fifth. He won the 200 fly at the 2012 London Olympics, upsetting Michael Phelps, but was no match for the Hungarian star.
Caeleb Dressel breezed through the semifinals of the 100 free, his first of three individual events. The American star posted the second-fastest time (47.23), just behind Russia’s Kliment Kolesnikov (47.11).
“That’s about what I expected,” Dressel said. “It’s going to be a fast final.”
He shook off the view that he’s a lock for the gold.
“I’ve never been a fan of favorites,” Dressel said. “It’s going to be a really fun race. Really looking forward to it. I mean, there’s quite honestly eight guys in contention, so it’s going to be exciting for everyone to watch. You guys (in the media) should be jealous I get to take part in it.”