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TOKYO — Katie Ledecky failed to medal in the 200-meter freestyle here on Wednesday, losing yet again to Ariarne Titmus, the 20-year-old Australian “Terminator,” but also to three others.
Ledecky finished fifth, in 1:55.21, well behind Titmus at 1:53:50, a new Olympic record.
Siobhan Bernadette Haughey of Hong Kong took silver (1:53.92), while Canada's Penny Oleksiak (1:54.70) won bronze.
Ledecky has qualified for 36 finals in major international meets in her career. Until Wednesday, she'd medaled in all of them, according to NBC Sports.
The race had been billed as Ledecky vs. Titmus, Part II, and exploded into life at 10:43 a.m., less than 48 hours after Titmus dealt Ledecky her first-ever individual Olympic loss. Ledecky, in a way, had been satisfied with and proud of that swim. She’d simply been beaten by greatness that her own greatness had inspired.
The experience, though, had been a strange one for the greatest female swimmer ever, who’s used to flipping at the wall with 100 meters to go and being alone, singular, untouchable. On Monday, Ledecky flipped at the 300 meters and saw Titmus right alongside her.
On Wednesday, again, the two swam stroke for stroke, but well behind others. Titmus closed with remarkable strength and chased down the leaders. Ledecky simply never did.
Ledecky had little-to-no time to process the result. She’ll swim the 1500-meter free some 70 minutes after she pulled herself out of the pool, an unprecedented Olympic "double." There, she’ll be favored to win her first gold medal of these Games and second medal overall.
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