Katie Ledecky Leads Ariarne Titmus Into A Lioness’ Den Of A 400 Freestyle Final As Li Lowers Asian Record & Italy Sets The 4×100 Pace At 3:10

2021-07-25 Reading Time: 2 minutes

Women’s 400m freestyle heats: A 4:00-point and a 4:01-point led Katie Ledecky and Ariarne Titmus to their Games 400m free destinies in the showdown in the morning. The runes suggest an epic battle.

Both women won their heats in the 400 freestyle preliminaries at the Tokyo Olympics Sunday to earn spots in the top three in the final for Monday morning.

Ledecky bounced and tested her feel and grip for a 4:00.45 ahead of China’s Li Bingjie, on an Asian record of 4:01.57, before Ariarne Titmus did what she needed to get into a lane next to the American in 4:01.66.

Reigning champion in the 200, 400 and 800 free, Ledecky will add the inaugural 1500m here in Tokyo. She’s been the dominant distance freestyle force since her breakthrough with gold over 800m in the London 2012 showdown.

In 2019, Titmus became the first rival to get the better of Ledecky over 400m in all the while since the American claimed her first World title back in 2013. Ledecky was under the weather but got back into the swing of the meet to retain the 800m crown towards the end of a challenging week.

Now comes the test of the two and the rest when they’re all fit and raring to go. A changing of the guard or an affirmation of Ledecky as “living legend plus”? The race will tell but we can say the fight if full of youth:

There’s New Zealand’s Erika Fairweather, based in Dunedin, where Danyon Loader worked his way through the ranks up to a double Olympic champion in 1996 over 200 and 400m freestyle after silver in the 200m butterfly as a 17-year-old. Fairweather cracked the national record of 4:02.28, 4sec inside her previous career high and the first Kiwi to take down one of Lauren Boyle‘s national standards: Boyle clocked 4:03.63 in the heats at London 2012.

Then there’s 14-year-old Summer McIntosh, who led the way early in the heat along the lanes from Ledecky before the American reminded all of the way she’d like things to be. McIntosh was fearless and took a 4:02.72 ticket to her first Olympic final.

Result in full

Focus on Katie Ledecky Vs Ariarne Titmus at the heart of the USA Vs Australia clash predicted for the Tokyo pool – image: ragout of the Australian Telegraph and the double-page spread by Julian Linden

The Finalists:

Katie Ledecky, United States, 4:00.45
Li Bingjie, China, 4:01.57
Ariarne Titmus, Australia, 4:01.66
Erika Fairweather, New Zealand, 4:02.28
Summer McIntosh, Canada, 4:02.72
Isabel Gose, Germany, 4:03.21
Paige Madden, United States, 4:03.98
Tang Muhan, China, 4:04.07

Men’s 4×100 freestyle

An Italian record of 3:10.29 took the Lane 4 ticket for the decider, the parts of the sum as follows: 47.46, Alessandro Miressi; 47.90, Santo Condorelli; 47.29, Lorenzo Zazzeri; 47.64, Manuel Frigo.

The United States was next through in 3:11.33 a touch ahead of Australia’s 3:11.89, the Dolphins’ passage to safe waters secured by a 46.63 split from 100m Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers.

Britain just lost out to Russia for the last spot:

Kyle Chalmers warming up for the storm in 46.6 – Photo by Patrick B. Kraemer / MAGICPBK

The Finalists

  1. Italy, 3:10.29
  2. United States, 3:11.33
  3. Australia, 3:11.89
  4. France, 3:12.35
  5. Brazil, 3:12.59
  6. Hungary, 3:12.73
  7. Canada, 3:13.00
  8. Russia, 3:13.13
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