The women’s 200m freestyle was arguably the most anticipated event of this next week’s world swimming championships. And that was before Sarah Sjöström joined the field.
Sjöström, who was not expected to race the 200m free at worlds, is entered in the event and plans to swim it, according to Sweden’s swimming federation.
The Swede was the closest of any swimmer in any event to Katie Ledecky at the Rio Olympics, finishing .35 behind for silver in the 200m free. Sjöström outsplit Ledecky in the last 50 meters in Rio.
But Sjöström hasn’t contested the 200m free at worlds since 2013, preferring the 50m and 100m freestyles and butterflies. Sjöström is the world-record holder in all four of those shorter events and won three of them at the 2017 Worlds.
Sjöström might not be Ledecky’s biggest threat in the 200m free this month. Italian Federica Pellegrini, the 2008 Olympic champion, is the reigning world champion. Canadian Taylor Ruck, a rising Stanford sophomore, beat Ledecky at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships.
Australian Ariarne Titmus, 18, has the fastest time in the world this year. Another Aussie, Emma McKeon, who tied Ledecky for silver at 2017 Worlds, has also been faster than Ledecky this year.
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