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Katie Ledecky opens 2023 with a win, and a question

Katie Ledecky took the win in 1:55.47, over two seconds ahead of second-place Bella Sims and just over a second off her Pro Swim record of 1:54.40 set last year.

Katie Ledecky began 2023 by extending her domestic dominance in the 200m freestyle, but will she swim it at July’s world championships or the 2024 Paris Olympics?

Ledecky prevailed in her first race of the year, clocking 1 minute, 55.47 seconds at a Pro Series meet in Knoxville, Tennessee. She beat the nation’s best teenagers in the event -- Bella Sims, Erin Gemmell and Claire Weinstein -- by more than two seconds.

“I’m happy with that one,” Ledecky said on Peacock. “I feel really good about how training’s going.”

Later, Ledecky dueled with 17-year-old Katie Grimes in the 400m individual medley. Grimes, the world silver medalist in the event, led by 5.31 seconds at the midpoint and held on to prevail by 17 hundredths over Ledecky, who does not swim the 400m IM in major international meets.

Full meet results are here. The meet continues Friday with finals at 6 p.m. ET, live on Peacock.

An American hasn’t beaten Ledecky in a freestyle race of 200 meters or longer in nine years. Internationally, it’s a different story. Ledecky was fifth in her Olympic title defense in Tokyo and chose not to swim it at this past June’s world championships, instead prioritizing her longer races (and winning all of them).

But Ledecky did swim the 200m free at July’s national championships, posting a time that would have won the world title by 42 hundredths of a second. Granted, none of the Tokyo Olympic medalists were in the world championships final.

Last spring, Ledecky said that if the 200m free and 1500m free don’t overlap on the 2024 Olympic schedule -- the finals were in the same session in Tokyo -- she would be more enticed to re-add the 200m free to her program. Later, the Olympic schedule was released with the 200m and 1500m finals separated by two days.

She has not publicly commented on her long-term 200m free plan in recent months, but she has plenty of time to deliberate. The U.S. trials for July’s worlds are the last week of June.

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