Five days into the Olympic swim meet, one thing has become perfectly clear: Ariarne Titmus is fast becoming swimming’s new queen.
For the second time in three days, Titmus, the young Australian sensation, won a gold medal, this time in the 200-meter freestyle, beating a field that included Katie Ledecky, the reigning Olympic champion in the event.
Five years after her victory in Rio de Janeiro, though, Ledecky was far off Titmus’s pace, finishing fifth, and she clearly has all that she can manage at distances of 400 meters or less.
Titmus claimed her second gold medal of the games and a sweet victory for swimming-mad Australia, winning in 1:53.50, a new Olympic record. Ledecky finished fifth in 1:55.21. Siobhan Haughey of Hong Kong took the silver and Penny Oleksiak of Canada took the bronze.
The outcome was not a surprise. Titmus had been faster than Ledecky in the 200 meters this year, though the two have not raced against each other in two years. It is Ledecky’s weakest individual event. Still, Ledecky came into these Games chasing five gold medals — four individual and one in a relay. So far she has one silver medal.
That should change in roughly an hour, when Ledecky swims the 1,500-meter freestyle, a race in which she has little competition.