Ariarne Titmus is Australia’s rising swimming star who beat Katie Ledecky for gold in the women’s 400-meter freestyle.
Ariarne Titmus beat Katie Ledecky for gold in the women’s 400-meter freestyle.
TOKYO, Japan — Katie Ledecky was defeated by the Terminator in the Tokyo Olympics.
Ariarne Titmus of Australia beat out Ledecky to win one of the most anticipated events of the Summer Games, with the second-fastest time in history on Monday.
Titmus, who was almost a full body length behind at the halfway point of the eight-lap race, cranked up the heat and crossed the finish line in 3 minutes, 56.69 seconds.
Ledecky held the world record and was the reigning Olympic champion. She settled for silver this time, clocking in at 3:57.36, the fourth-fastest time ever.
A victory in the men’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay took some of the sting off of Team USA’s defeat against Ledecky. Caeleb Dressel, who started his quest for six gold medals in swimming by capturing his first on Monday, led the American men off.
In the women’s 400-meter freestyle, Ledecky set the fourth-fastest time on record, but it wasn’t enough to beat Titmus’ 3:56.69, which was the second-fastest time ever. Rob Carr/Getty Images photo
“I battled with all I had,” Ledecky stated. “She swam a really intelligent race.” She was very restrained in the beginning. Going out, I felt very smooth and powerful, and when I flipped at the 300, I thought to myself, ‘Oh, she’s right there.’”
She vanished without a trace.
For the first time in her illustrious Olympic career, Ledecky tasted loss, this time at the hands of an Australian opponent who made it plain she was not frightened by the American star.
“‘It’s weird,’ remarked Titmus. “It’s crazy to create such a big strategy for anything. It’s arguably the greatest accomplishment you can make in your athletic career, so I’m ecstatic.”
Nobody else came close. Li Bingjie of China won bronze in 4:01.08.
The focus then turned to Dressel, who has swam heralded as Michael Phelps’ heir.
Zach Apple, Blake Pieroni, Bowen Beck, and Caeleb Dressel, from left, pose after winning the gold medal in the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay. David Josek/AP Photo/Petr
Dressel placed the United States in the lead, and the three relay runners behind him made sure it stayed there.
“I felt great the entire way, but I knew I needed to get my hand through the wall and grab some clean water first,” Dressel said. “And everyone performed their job to the best of their abilities. There’s a reason it’s a relay, four men for a purpose, and it’s not just me. “It’s not just one person.”
The 24-year-old Florida native swam the first leg in 47.26 seconds. Blake Pieroni and Bowe Becker maintained the Americans in lead until Zach Apple’s anchor leg of 46.69 put the race out of reach.
The United States won in 3:08.97, the third-fastest time ever. Italy won silver in 3:10.11, with Australia taking bronze in 3:10.22.
“For me, the scariest thing was my leg since I had control over it,” Dressel added. “I had no fear since I knew they were going to do the job.” Especially when Zach was submerged. I knew it was over when I saw him burst out.”
Dressel embraced Apple as she stepped out of the water, preparing for a tough program of three solo races and three relays in Tokyo. There are five more to go.
The Americans, who won six of the 12 medals on Sunday, were shut out of the medals in the first two finals on Monday, thanks to Ledecky’s disappointment.
Torri Huske and Michael Andrew finished fourth and fifth, respectively, before Ledecky settled for second place on the podium, a strange position for the best female freestyle swimmer in history.
After winning the 800 free in the 2012 London Olympics, Ledecky went on to win three more gold medals in the 200, 400, and 800 free at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics five years ago.
“‘I knew it would be a fight to the finish,” Ledecky added. “I didn’t feel like I was about to die. She was only 50 or 75 miles per hour faster. “It doesn’t get much better than that.”
At the end, Titmus was every bit the Terminator.
“I was a little bit concerned at the 200,” the Australian said. “I had a feeling she’d show up. Nobody is coming to the Olympics hoping to catch Katie Ledecky off guard. I suppose I simply had to believe in myself.
“I tried to remain as calm as possible and make the most of my slow pace.” “I’m very pleased of myself for pulling it off in the tail end against someone who has a great second half of her race.”
In the 200 free, Ledecky will face Titmus again, and the American is highly expected to win the 800 and add another gold in the 1,500, which is a new event for the women at these games.
The swimmers shook hands after the race, which took place in the middle of the pool. They hugged each other as they got out of the water together.
“Titmus replied, “I simply thanked her.” “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her. She has established a new benchmark in middle-distance freestyle. I wouldn’t be swimming like this if I didn’t have someone like her to chase after.”
After racing in the women’s 400-meter freestyle, Titmus and Ledecky hug. Rob Carr/Getty Images photo
Britain’s Adam Peaty, the defending Olympic champion in the men’s 100 breaststroke, is perhaps the safest bet in the pool.
In his trademark event, Peaty holds the world record and is the first guy to break both 58 and 57 seconds. To sweep away the field, he ran the fifth-fastest time in history (57.37).
Arno Kamminga of the Netherlands won silver in 58.00, while Nicolo Martinenghi of Italy took bronze in 58.33. Andrew came in second with a time of 58.84.
With a win in the women’s 100 butterfly, Maggie MacNeil became Canada’s first gold medalist in the pool.
The defending world champion touched first in 55.59 seconds, beating out China’s Zhang Yufei (55.64) for first place. Emma McKeon of Australia won bronze in 55.72, edging out Huske, who was 18 at the time, by a tenth of a second.
Huske got out to a good start, and with approximately 10 meters to go, she looked to be close to the lead. However, she faltered in the last strokes and just missed a podium place.
Sarah Sjöström of Sweden, the defending champion and world record holder, finished eighth.
The six medals won by the American team on Sunday were more than they had ever won on the opening day of Michael Phelps’ remarkable career, which spanned five Olympics.
Phelps withdrew from competition after the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and is now working as a commentator for these games.
This article was written with the help of the Associated Press.