TOKYO (Reuters) -Hours after losing the 400m freestyle to Australia’s Ariarne Titmus, five-times Olympic gold medallist Katie Ledecky was back in the pool and posted the quickest time in qualifying for the 200m freestyle on Monday.
Ledecky swam a time of 1:55.28 while Titmus, fresh off her gold success, was fourth fastest with 1:55.88. Canada’s Penny Oleksiak was second quickest and Australian Madison Wilson third.
World record holder Federico Pellegrini of Italy only scraped into the semi-finals with the 15th fastest time.
With a turnaround of less than two hours, Ledecky was on the starting blocks again for her heat of the women’s 1,500m freestyle, the longest distance in a gruelling schedule of at least 10 races in a week in Tokyo.
The 1,500 is being contested by women for the first time at an Olympics and Ledecky qualified fastest for Wednesday’s final in 15:35.35 after leading her heat from the outset.
China’s Wang Jianjiahe advanced in second place, six seconds adrift of Ledecky, with American Erica Sullivan third.
“I’ll sleep well tonight,” Ledecky said.
“I’m just happy it’s over and I got the job done. It’s going to be a lot tighter on Wednesday… it’s going to be a bit trickier.”
In the men’s 200m butterfly heats, world record holder Kristof Milak of Hungary was comfortably the fastest with his time of 1:53.58, 0.86 seconds ahead of the second quickest swimmer Wang Kuan-Hung.
“It was a good feeling to look around see the other guys and say, ok, let’s start this,” Milak said.
Chad Le Clos of South Africa, gold medal winner in London and silver medallist in Rio, squeezed into the semi-finals in the 16th and last spot.
He said he was lucky, and a little embarrassed.
“Obviously, I’ve got to bring a bit of game tomorrow and make the final,” he said.
“It’s been a tough year with tough things but no excuses, I feel good, I feel confident … it’ll be sweet tomorrow. Just get me a lane in that final.”
In the women’s 200m medley, Kate Douglass of the United States was fastest, 0.54 seconds ahead of world record holder and defending Olympic champion Katinka Hosszu.
(Reporting by Simon Evans, Aaron Sheldrick and Martin Petty; editing by Ed Osmond)