- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 9, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO — In what was shaping up to be another very good night for the Americans, Bethesda’s Katie Ledecky took the most challenging step toward a feat that’s only been done one other time.

Ledecky held off Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom to win the 200 freestyle and give the American star her second gold of the Rio Games.

Debbie Meyer is the only female swimmer to capture the three longest freestyle events at a single Olympics, winning the 200, 400 and 800 at Mexico City in 1968. Ledecky looks like a lock to match Meyer, having already won the 200 and 400 titles and an overwhelming favorite in the 800, where she’s the world-record holder and far faster than anyone else in the world.

Fifth at the first flip turn, a bit faster than she usually goes out, Ledecky powered to the front on the third lap and grittily shooed off a hard-charging Sjostrom coming to the wall.

Ledecky touched in 1:53.73. The silver went to Sjostrom in 1:54.08, while early leader Emma McKeon faded to the bronze in 1:54.92. World-record holder Federica Pelligrini of Italy was fourth.

“That was a really tough race and it hurt really badly,” Ledecky said. “I’m pretty sure it’s the closest I’ve come to throwing up in the middle of a race. I’m just so glad I got my hand on the wall first and it was all worth it.”

Ledecky knew this was the most vulnerable of her three individual events. She crushed the world record in the 400 and everyone expects her to do the same in the 800.

The 200 may be the shortest race of the bunch but it’s definitely the hardest for Ledecky, requiring her to show both her speed and endurance against a far more competitive field.

“The 200 is a much more stressful race than the 400 and 800, and it always just feels good when it’s over,” she said. “I took it out pretty fast and kind of forced everybody to try to do that. Once I was ahead I knew I wasn’t going to let it out of my hands. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to see most of the field on the last 50, so I just had to dig deep.”


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