Katie Ledecky wins freestyle duel with Simone Manuel, takes third in medley

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At the shortest distance Katie Ledecky usually races and a longer distance than Simone Manuel normally attempts, Ledecky took a comfortable victory over her training partner Friday in the 200m freestyle at a TYR Pro Swim Series meet in Greensboro, N.C.

Ledecky took the lead immediately, finishing her first length in 27.34 seconds on her way to a final time of 1:55.58. Manuel finished in 1:57.46, just ahead of four-time Olympic gold medalist Allison Schmitt (1:57.63).

Several swimmers took on races outside their comfort zones. Ledecky finished third in the 400m medley behind Ally McHugh (4:40.09), who won the NCAA 1,650-yard freestyle championship in March, and Hali Flickinger, the 2019 world silver medalist in the 200m butterfly who swam in all three finals Friday.

Ryan Lochte swam in two finals Thursday and again on Friday but was not in the 400m medley, one of his strongest events. He finished third in the 200m backstroke behind South African Olympian Christopher Reid and Jacob Pebley, the bronze medalist in the 200m back in the 2017 world championships.

Luca Urlando, 17, won his second event of the meet, edging Zane Grothe by 0.05 seconds in the 200m freestyle. Urlando finished in 1:48.40.

Isabelle Stadden won the 200m backstroke ahead of Kathleen Baker, a bronze medalist in the event in 2017.

World silver medalist Jay Litherland won the 400m medley in 4:20.09.

Meet results are available here.

WEDNESDAY: Twichell, Grothe win 1,500m

THURSDAY: Manuel wins 100m; Ledecky wins 400m

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Gregorio Paltrinieri swims second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history

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Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri swam the second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history, clocking 14:33.10 in his native Italy on Thursday.

Paltrinieri, 25, missed Chinese Sun Yang‘s world record from the 2012 Olympics by 2.08 seconds.

The Italian now owns the second- and third-fastest times in history, including his 14:34.10 from the 2016 European Championships, also held at the 2012 Olympic pool in London.

Paltrinieri is a versatile distance swimmer. At last year’s world championships, he finished sixth in the open-water 10km to qualify for the Olympics, then won the 800m free in the pool in a European record time and finished with 1500m bronze, just missing a third straight world title in that event.

German Florian Wellbrock won the 1500m in 14:36.54 at worlds, with Paltrinieri finishing 2.21 seconds back.

Sun, 28, was in February banned eight years stemming from destroying a drug-test sample with a hammer in September 2018. Sun, who focused more on the 200m and 400m frees in recent years, did not race the 1500m at the 2017 or 2019 Worlds.

Top-level swim meets in the U.S. are scheduled to resume in November with the Tyr Pro Series.

MORE: Michael Phelps qualifies for first Olympics at age 15

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Bianca Andreescu to miss U.S. Open

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Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic” compromising her ability to prepare to defend her Grand Slam title.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level,” Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, posted on social media. “The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there. However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”

Andreescu’s absence means the U.S. Open, the first Grand Slam tournament since tennis resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be without both 2019 male and female singles champions.

Rafael Nadal previously announced he would not defend his title, saying he would rather not travel given the global situation. Roger Federer is also out after knee surgery. Women’s No. 1 Ash Barty didn’t enter, either, citing travel concerns.

Last year, Andreescu made her U.S. Open title run as the 15th seed, sweeping Serena Williams in the final. Ranked 208th a year earlier, she became the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam and the first teen Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Andreescu then missed the Australian Open in January due to rehab from a knee injury that forced her to retire during a match at the WTA Finals on Oct. 30. She also missed the French Open and Wimbledon in 2019 following a rotator cuff tear.

MORE: Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis competition

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