Sil­ver shocker: Ledecky does not win 200 free

The Denver Post - - OFF & RUNNING - By Paul Newberry

HUN­GARY» Katie Ledecky BU­DAPEST, reached for the wall.

Some­one else was al­ready there.

For the first time ever at the world cham­pi­onships, Ledecky knows what it’s like to lose.

Bid­ding to be­come only the se­cond fe­male swim­mer to win six golds at a sin­gle worlds, Ledecky set­tled for sil­ver in the 200-me­ter freestyle Wed­nes­day evening when Italy’s Fed­er­ica Pel­le­grini surged to a stun­ning vic­tory on the fi­nal lap.

Pel­le­grini, the world-record holder, avenged a close de­feat at the hands of Ledecky two years ago in Kazan, Rus­sia. This time, it was the Ital­ian touch­ing first in 1 minute, 54.73 sec­onds.

Ledecky and Aus­tralia’s Emma McKeon tied for the sil­ver at 1:55.18.

“I just didn’t re­ally have it to­day,” Ledecky said. “I can’t com­plain re­ally with the sil­ver medal.”

While Pel­le­grini cov­ered her mouth in de­light and climbed atop a lane rope to cel­e­brate, Ledecky stared blankly at the score­board.

She had never seen a “2’’ be­side her name at the world cham­pi­onships.

It was there in Bu­dapest, where Ledecky’s un­beaten streak in the se­cond- big­gest swim­ming com­pe­ti­tion af­ter the Olympics fi­nally ended.

“I didn’t re­ally feel at the end that I had that ex­tra gear that I nor­mally have,” said the 20-year-old Stan­ford stu­dent from the Washington, D.C., sub­urbs.

Ledecky had been 12 of 12 over the last three world cham­pi­onships, in­clud­ing three golds in this stately Euro­pean cap­i­tal. But her most au­da­cious sched­ule yet — six freestyle events cov­er­ing dis­tances rang­ing from 100 me­ters (on a re­lay) to 1,500 (the gru­el­ing met­ric mile) — fi­nally caught up with her along the banks of the Danube.

Missy Franklin will re­main the only fe­male swim­mer to win a half-dozen events at worlds, while Ledecky can take com­fort in be­ing the win­ningest fe­male swim­mer over­all. Twelve golds leave her trail­ing only fel­low Amer­i­cans Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte for the most vic­to­ries.

Now she’s got a sil­ver, too.

“It hap­pens,” said Ledecky, who will be a heavy gold medal fa­vorite in her last two events, the 4x200 free re­lay and the 800 free. “It hap­pens to ev­ery ath­lete at some point. I know this race will re­ally mo­ti­vate me mov­ing for­ward and the rest of the week as well.”

Of course, los­ing to Pel­le­grini was hardly an em­bar­rass­ment.

The 28-year-old be­came the first swim­mer in the his­tory of the cham­pi­onship to cap­ture seven medals in a sin­gle in­di­vid­ual event. Pel­le­grini’s in­cred­i­ble run in the 200 free be­gan at the 2005 worlds in Mon­treal, where she grabbed a sil­ver. She was third in 2007 at Mel­bourne, and then had back-to­back vic­to­ries, in­clud­ing a world-record per­for­mance at Rome in 2009 (1:52.98) that still stands from the rub­ber-suit era.

Pel­le­grini was run­ner-up at the last two worlds, fin­ish­ing be­hind Franklin in 2013 at Barcelona and Ledecky two years ago.

She wasn’t the only Ital­ian atop of the medal podium. Gabriele Detti ral­lied to win the men’s 800 free, rac­ing past both team­mate Gre­go­rio Pal­trinieri and Poland’s Wo­j­ciech Wo­j­dak af­ter those two put on a thrilling back-and-forth duel.

Bri­tain’s Adam Peaty cruised to vic­tory in the 50 breast­stroke, a non-Olympic event, but his time was a bit of a let­down. Af­ter break­ing the world record in both the pre­lim­i­nar­ies and the semi­fi­nals — the lat­ter in 25.95 — Peaty set­tled for only the se­cond-fastest time ever (25.99) in the fi­nal.

The U.S. set its se­cond world record of the day in the 4x100 mixed med­ley re­lay. Matt Gre­vers, Lilly King, Caeleb Dres­sel and Si­mone Manuel won gold with a time of 3:38.56.

Adam Pretty, Getty Im­ages

Katie Ledecky seems stunned as she looks at the score­board that shows she fin­ished se­cond in the 200-me­ter freestyle Wed­nes­day night. Emma McKeon of Aus­tralia, left, tied for sil­ver. Fed­er­ica Pel­le­grini won the race.

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