Katie Ledecky swims world’s fastest 200m freestyle of 2018 (video)

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About 12 hours after announcing her first sponsorKatie Ledecky was back in the pool, doing what she does best — swimming fast times.

The five-time Olympic champion recorded the fastest 200m freestyle in the world this year — and third-fastest 200m free of her career — at a Pro Series meet in Santa Clara on Friday night.

She clocked 1:54.56 to win the race by 3.44 seconds over Melanie Margalis, who was part of the 2016 Olympic 4x200m free relay with Ledecky. Full meet results are here.

“That’s exactly where I was hoping to be,” Ledecky said, according to USA Swimming. “I’m aware of the fastest times in the world.”

Ledecky displaced 18-year-old Canadian Taylor Ruck for the No. 1 ranking this year. Ruck won the Commonwealth Games in 1:54.81.

Ledecky’s time Friday also would have won the 2017 World title. This was the one individual event Ledecky did not win at worlds, sharing silver behind Federica Pellegrini, who clocked 1:54.73.

Also Friday, 12-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte competed in a Pro Series meet for the first time since the Olympics and his 10-month suspension for the Rio gas-station incident.

The 33-year-old finished sixth in the 200m backstroke, 4.76 seconds behind winner Ryan Murphy (1:56.06), who swept the backstrokes in Rio.

“I started a new career in January, so this is my new swimming career,” said Lochte, whose son, Caiden, turned 1 on Friday. Lochte moved from California back to Florida in the fall, returning to train under Gregg Troy, who guided him to become the world’s best swimmer nine years ago.

The Santa Clara meet continues Saturday, with Ledecky scheduled to swim the 100m and 800m freestyles. Olympic Channel has live coverage at 8 p.m. ET, also streaming for subscribers on OlympicChannel.com, the Olympic Channel app, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

Swimmers are preparing for the U.S. Championships in late July, a qualifying meet for the Pan Pacific Championships in August and the 2019 World Championships.

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