Seven weeks after losing the 400m freestyle while feeling the effects of an ill-timed illness at the swimming world championships, Katie Ledecky took a measure of revenge Sunday in the debut meet of the International Swimming League, finishing in a U.S. record 3:54.06, 3.55 seconds ahead of world champion Ariarne Titmus of Australia.
The ISL, unlike the world championships and traditional international meets, uses the short-course lap distance of 25 meters. Ledecky rarely swims at that distance — her college meets were measured in yards rather than meters — and she took advantage of the rare opportunity to smash the U.S. record of 3:57.07, set by Katie Hoff at the 2010 short-course world championships. Ledecky finished in 3:54.06.
Ledecky also came close to the world record of 3:53.92, which Titmus set in last year’s short-course world championships. But while USA Swimming will recognize times from the ISL, international organizer FINA will not. FINA does not sanction the ISL and threatened to ban swimmers who participated before relenting under legal pressure.
“I think all times should count if we are following all the rules, which we are,” Ledecky said. “That is the way it should be.”
The ISL is a team-based competition in which swimmers are split not by national team but assigned to teams nominally representing four cities in the United States and four in Europe, though most of the meets will not take place in any of those cities. The debut meet took place in Indianapolis, which does not have a representative team in the league, and the final will be in Las Vegas in December.
The ISL’s debut season got more eventful Monday, SwimSwam reported, as the swimmers’ plane to Naples, Italy, was diverted to Rome due to turbulence.
Ledecky, along with 2016 bronze medalist breaststroke specialist Cody Miller and three-time Olympic champion Natalie Coughlin, swims for the DC Trident, which finished third out of four teams in the debut meet. Energy Standard Istanbul, led by multiple-event winners Chad le Clos, Sarah Sjostrom and Florent Manaudou, won the team title.
Lilly King helped the Cali Condors take second place overall by sweeping the three breaststroke events.
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