GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Katie Ledecky won the 200-meter freestyle Friday night at the USA Swimming Winter National Championships, holding off Olympic teammate and training partner Simone Manuel for her third title in three days.
Ledecky finished in 1 minute 55.32 seconds, more than two seconds clear of Manuel (1:57.92).
“I was happy with my time,” Ledecky said. “It’s a good starting point for the season and I was happy with how I swam it. I will have a lot of good takeaways and a lot of things I can improve on.”
Ledecky won the 800 free to open the competition Wednesday and took the 400 free Thursday night. She won gold medals in the 200, 400, and 800 freestyle at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Ledecky and Manuel have the same coach, Greg Meehan, and a combined seven gold medals in the Olympics between them. They are scheduled to compete against each other again Saturday in the 100 free, where Manuel is the top seed.
“We do 200 free work every Thursday morning together,” Ledecky said. “It’s the one practice where we are doing the same thing. It’s always fun to have somebody like that who’s really competitive, driven and is going for the same goals. We’re on pretty similar schedules and it has been a lot of fun this fall to train with her and be in the same boat as far as meet plans, schedules and training.”
Manuel, who won the 50 free on Thursday night, tied for the 100 free gold in Rio and won a silver medal in the 50 free in her first Olympics.
Dana Vollmer, who is vying for her fourth Olympic team in 2020, finished fourth in the 100-meter butterfly in 59.38 seconds, which met the qualifying standard time to secure a spot in the Olympic trials in Omaha, Nebraska in June 2020.
Vollmer, who has won five gold medals in the Olympics, won the bronze medal in the 100 fly in Rio but hasn’t competed in the event since. The 31-year old is also the mother of two children, one of whom she had after Rio.
“I took some time away and focused on routines with two kids and figuring out why I still love the sport,” Vollmer said. “I think that’s something that all athletes go through, rediscovering what your passion is and why you push your body as hard as you do. It’s about coordinating things now and finding a babysitter who wants to come to my house at 4 o’clock in the morning so I can go to practice.”