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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MORE: Missy Franklin enters first swim meet since Rio Olympics

Katie Ledecky announces swimsuit sponsor

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Katie Ledecky will wear Tyr swimsuits as she pursues a third Olympics in 2020, signing what Tyr called “the most lucrative partnership in the history of the swim industry,” reportedly through the 2024 Games.

“I am excited to partner with Tyr as I take this important step in my career,” the five-time Olympic champion said in a press release Friday. “We share a vision of growing the sport for current and future generations of swimmers, and we will build towards that goal together. I appreciate Tyr’s investment in me, and their commitment to technology that is critical to my ongoing quest to swim faster.”

Ledecky, who turned professional after finishing her sophomore season at Stanford in March, swims in her last full meet before the U.S. Championships at a Pro Series event in Santa Clara, Calif., live on NBCSN and Olympic Channel starting Friday.

A full broadcast schedule is here.

Ledecky bucked history of marquee U.S. swimmers signing with Speedo.

Michael Phelps turned pro in 2001, signing with Speedo. Natalie Coughlin followed in 2004. In 2006, Ryan Lochte turned pro with a 10-year Speedo deal (but lost all his sponsors after his Rio gas-station incident and is now with Tyr). Missy Franklin chose Speedo when she turned pro in 2015.

Tyr signed its first eventual Olympic champion swimmer, Matt Grevers, in 2003. Its roster now also includes Olympic gold medalists Dana VollmerCody Miller and Leah Smith, in addition to Lochte.

Tyr, named for the Norse god of warriors, was founded in 1985 by Joseph DiLorenzo and 1972 Olympic bronze medalist Steve Furniss.

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MORE: Missy Franklin enters first swim meet since Rio Olympics

Katie Ledecky set for final full meet before nationals; TV, stream info

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Katie Ledecky swims in her last full meet before the U.S. Championships at a Pro Series event in Santa Clara, Calif., live on NBCSN and Olympic Channel this week.

The four-time 2016 Olympic champion headlines a field that also includes Ryan Lochte in his first Pro Series meet since the Rio Olympics, plus Olympic and world champions Lilly KingSimone ManuelCaeleb DresselChase Kalisz and Ryan Murphy.

That’s pretty much the whole set of U.S. swimming’s biggest stars save Missy Franklin, who competes in Europe this weekend (Olympic Channel, Saturday 12 p.m. ET and Sunday 7 p.m. ET) at her first meet since the Rio Olympics.

Ledecky said Wednesday that Santa Clara marks her last full meet before late July’s nationals in Irvine, Calif. Nationals determines the U.S. team for this year’s major international meet — the Pan Pacific Championships in late August. Nationals and Pan Pacs determine the team for the 2019 World Championships in South Korea.

At her last meet three weeks ago, Ledecky smashed her 1500m freestyle world record by five seconds (her first world record since the Rio Games) and swam the second-fastest 400m freestyle ever, trailing only her world record from Rio. Ledecky isn’t signed up for Thursday’s 1500m freestyle in Santa Clara, but can she chase world records in shorter distances starting Friday?

“We’ll see,” Ledecky said after participating in the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make A Splash tour stop in Stanford University. “Didn’t really expect those kinds of times in Indianapolis.”

Pro Series Santa Clara Finals
Thursday — USASwimming.org (1500m freestyles only)
Friday — NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app
Saturday — Olympic Channel, NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app, OlympicChannel.com, Olympic Channel app
Sunday — USASwimming.org
All finals sessions are 8-9:30 p.m. ET.

Ledecky is not only in the middle of hard training, but also final exams as a sophomore at Stanford. She’s continued to take classes but will no longer swim for the Cardinal, having turned professional after the NCAA Championships in March.

Ledecky has yet to sign with a swimwear sponsor. She raced in different brands of suits in Indianapolis and said she may do so again on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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MORE: Missy Franklin enters first swim meet since Rio Olympics