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Katie Ledecky’s 200 freestyle time at nationals would have won world title

(Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Katie Ledecky continues to dominate at the U.S. national championships. The 25-year-old won the 200-meter freestyle Wednesday with a time of 1:54.50.

That time would have won gold at the world championships in June by nearly half a second, beating out China’s Yang Junxuan, who won the title in 1:54.92. Ledecky passed on the event at worlds, in part because the semifinal heats took place on the same night as the 1,500 freestyle final, NBC Sports reported.

At the U.S. championships in Irvine, California, Ledecky beat the next closest competitor by 1.64 seconds. Erin Gemmell, 17, took silver in 1:56.14, making her the ninth-fastest American woman in history, and Claire Tuggle took third in a time of 1:58.34.

For Ledecky, the swim came one day after she opened the meet with a staggering win in the 800 freestyle. With her time of 8:12.03, she won gold by 19.89 seconds over second-place finisher Kensey McMahon. Ledecky now owns the 29 fastest times in history.

“I’m happy with that,” said Ledecky, whose time Tuesday sits at No. 19 on the all-time list. “I didn’t really have any expectations coming into this.”


The time was faster than the time she swam to win gold in Tokyo last summer at the Olympics, but not quite as fast as the 8:08.04 she scored at the world championships earlier this summer. With that time, she won her fifth consecutive world title in the event – becoming the first swimmer to do so. She also set a women’s record for the most career worlds medals with 21.

In all, this summer has been faster than the last for Ledecky, who moved her training base to Florida in September.

Her domination comes mere days after the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris announced its swimming event lineup, with some reshuffling that could mean more Ledecky swims.

The 200-meter freestyle was moved to Day 3, avoiding a conflict with the 1,500 on Day 4. Ledecky won the 1,500 in Tokyo but missed the podium in the shorter event.

For now, Ledecky will keep her sights on U.S. nationals, with the 100 freestyle and 400 individual medley still to swim.