Katie Ledecky booked a spot in the women's 200-meter freestyle Olympic final with a strong showing in the semifinals Monday night in Rio. Ledecky finished second among all swimmers with a time of one minute and 54.81 seconds and will go for the gold in Rio on Tuesday night.
Sarah Sjostrom, who won gold in the women's 100-meter butterfly Sunday, finished first with a time of one minute and 54.65 seconds. Italy's Federica Pellegrini finished third at one minute and 55.42 seconds.
Ledecky might be best known for the 400-meter freestyle, an event she dominated Sunday for the gold medal, but she's looking like a favorite at the shorter distance, too. In the preliminary heats, she posted the best time at one minute and 55.1 seconds. Her performance in the semifinals was even better, although it wasn't enough to top Sjostrom's impressive showing.
Now it'll be exciting to see what Ledecky does in the final. When she swam in the 400m freestyle, she narrowly fell short of breaking her world record in the semifinals, but then she absolutely crushed it in a final so lopsided she was several feet ahead of her competition. If she can come even close to repeating that effort at half the distance, the rest of the swimmers will merely be going for silver.
The other American swimming in these semifinals, Missy Franklin, finished last in her semifinal and tied for 13th overall with a time of one minute and 57.56 seconds. She finished 12th in the preliminary heats and has struggled to repeat her performance from the 2012 Olympics, where she won four gold medals.
Ledecky, meanwhile, already has two medals in Rio, giving her three overall at the Olympics. She won a silver medal in the women's 4x100m freestyle relay for her first medal this year, then got the gold in the women's 400m freestyle. Four years ago, she won gold in the women's 800m freestyle, in which she'll be swimming later this week.
* * *