Ledecky dominates in 200 freestyle

ABS-CBN Sports on Jan 17, 2016 01:24 PM
Ledecky dominates in 200 freestyle
Katie Ledecky competes in the women's 200-meter freestyle during the Arena Pro Swim Series, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Stephen Spillman)

JIM VERTUNO, AP Sports Writer

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Katie Ledecky insisted she wasn't trying to send a message ahead of the Olympics. Sometimes, however, teenagers just can't help themselves.

The 18-year-old dominated an impressive field in the 200-meter freestyle at the Arena Pro Swim Series on Saturday night, winning in a personal-best 1 minute, 54.43 seconds, the sixth-fastest time in history.

"I'm in a good place. I like where I'm at and that will continue to motivate me in practice," Ledecky said. "I don't think about a message, I just wanted to put together a good swim."

She certainly did that, obliterating the 1:55.16 she swam to win the 2015 world championship in Russia. Ledecky noted, however, this one came on a day she competed in only one race and in a week that wasn't dominated by qualifying.

But she still had to do it in a pool crowded with rivals. Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom, who posted the fastest time in the world in 2015 and won the 100 freestyle Friday night, finished second in 1:56.14. Missy Franklin, who finished third at the world championships, was third again Saturday night at 1:57.49.

Sojstrom couldn't keep pace in the longer race and Ledecky left her behind after 100 meters. Franklin tried to make a late push from third but couldn't close any ground.

Thirty minutes after the 200 freestyle, Franklin came back to finish third in the 200 backstroke, the event where she set the world record of 2:04.06 in 2012, won Olympic gold in 2012 and holds five of the 10 fastest times in history. American Maya DiRado won in 2:08.19.

Ryan Lochte cruised to an easy victory in the 400 individual medley in 4:12.66. Lochte won the 2012 Olympic gold medal and ranks No. 2 in the history of the event, and the 31-year-old wasn't challenged in a field that included Americans Chase Kalisz and Tyler Clary, who were third and fourth, respectively, at the 2015 world championships.

Lochte called the 400 medley a brutal race.

"As I get older, it gets to be more of a challenge," Lochte said. "As you get older, you find ways to get better. You listen to your body more. I do a lot more recovery than I ever used to do."

Michael Phelps, who at 30 is aiming for his fifth Olympics, finished a distant fourth in the 200 freestyle won by France's Jeremy Stravius in 1:47.56. Phelps finished in 1:48.47. He tried to make a push at 100 meters but fell far off the pace over the final 50.

"I need to step on the gas more in the first 100 if I really want to do something well in that race," Phelps said. "The stroke really just isn't there (yet). It was OK."

Hungary's Katinka Hosszu won the women's 400 individual medley relay in 4:36.27. The 2015 world champion holds four of the top 10 times in history. She dominated again, stretching out a big lead over the two laps to easily distance Becca Mann of the U.S., who finished second at 4:39.03.


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