Katie Ledecky, Ryan Lochte notch key wins in Austin
Katie Ledecky and Ryan Lochte recorded statement victories, while Michael Phelps showed there’s at least one event he still must improve upon in his comeback at their opening meet of the Olympic year in Austin, Texas, on Saturday.
Ledecky outdueled Swede Sarah Sjöström in the 200m freestyle, in a matchup of the two Rio Olympic favorites in the event.
Ledecky clocked a personal-best 1 minute, 54.43 seconds, with Sjöström in second, 1.71 seconds behind. Missy Franklin was third (full results here).
“Good swim all-around,” Ledecky said on NBC Sports Live Extra. “I was happy with my 100 [freestyle personal best] and my 400 [freestyle win] yesterday and knew the 200 was right in the middle, been able to focus a little more on the shorter races this year. I think it’s paying off.”
Ledecky, 18, moved into fourth place all time in the event. The reigning World champion in the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles last lost a long-course meters final in any of those events on Jan. 18, 2014.
Sjöström, who beat Ledecky in the 100m free on Friday and won the 50m free later Saturday, had the world’s fastest 200m free time in 2015 but did not contest it at the World Championships last August.
Sjöström’s best time in 2015, 1:54.31, would have beaten Ledecky on Saturday, though.
Earlier Saturday, Lochte won the grueling 400m individual medley at a meet in an Olympic-sized pool for the first time since May 30, 2013.
In fact, it marked Lochte’s first win in a Pro Swim Series meet in an event other than the 200m individual medley since April 24, 2014.
Lochte, the reigning Olympic 400m IM champion, has rarely contested the event since the London Games but remained coy about whether he will race it June 26 at the Olympic trials.
“I don’t know,” he said on NBC Sports Live Extra. “It’s something that me and my coach, David Marsh, are going to talk about, but we’ll keep you guys on your toes.”
Lochte clocked 4:12.66 on Saturday, beating the fastest U.S. man from 2015, Chase Kalisz, by 1.98 seconds. Lochte’s time would have ranked No. 8 in the world and No. 4 in the U.S. for 2015.
Also Saturday, Phelps finished fourth in the 200m freestyle, which is no longer one of his primary events.
Phelps, fastest in the world in 2015 in the 100m and 200m butterflies and the 200m individual medley, ranked No. 18 in the U.S. in the 200m free in 2015.
Phelps could contend for a place on the 4x200m free relay team in Rio after being on that relay at the last three Olympics. But he will likely have to cut at least one second off his best time in the event since his comeback.
“I have to swim it more,” Phelps told media in Austin. “It was OK, but I’m just frustrated.”
Maya DiRado and Ryan Murphy, two swimmers in great position to make their first Olympic teams at trials, swept the 200m backstrokes Saturday. Franklin took third in the women’s 200m back.
Olympic 100m free champion Nathan Adrian easily took the 50m freestyle in 21.85 seconds. Adrian, the World 50m free silver medalist, won against a field that did not include reigning Olympic and World champion Florent Manaudou of France.
The meet concludes Sunday with finals at 7 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Live Extra.
MORE SWIMMING: Ledecky looks like Olympic contender in 100m free