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Katie Ledecky Upset by Ariarne Titmus at 2019 World Swimming Championships

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IIJuly 21, 2019

US Katie Ledecky (L) competes alongside Australia's Ariarne Titmus to take silver in the final of the women's 400m freestyle event during the swimming competition at the 2019 World Championships at Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center in Gwangju, South Korea, on July 21, 2019. (Photo by Manan VATSYAYANA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
MANAN VATSYAYANA/Getty Images

Australia's Ariarne Titmus beat Katie Ledecky in the 400-metre freestyle at the 2019 World Swimming Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, on Sunday.

Ledecky was chasing a fourth straight title and led going into the final lap, but Titmus produced a strong finish to surge past the American and win in a time of three minutes and 58.76 seconds.

American Leah Smith came in third to take the bronze and the final place on the podium.

FINA shared highlights of the race, including the dramatic finish:

FINA @fina1908

Legendary duel between Australia’s Ariarne Titmus and Katie Ledecky of USA in the Women’s 400m Freestyle! Titmus overtaking Ledecky with only a few meters to go, winning in 3:58.76. All the action live on 💻 https://t.co/bEozhdW5qV #FINAGwangju2019 #Swimming #FINA https://t.co/xknw7yMLxH

The result is a shock, as Ledecky has dominated the event throughout her career:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Katie Ledecky won silver in the 400m freestyle at the World Championships today. It's the first time she failed to win gold in that event at a major international competition (she had won the 400m freestyle in 6 straight years, including the 2016 Olympics) https://t.co/QM2ceuxoI3

The American produced the slowest last lap of any of the eight swimmers in the race and spoke afterwards about why she had struggled heading towards the finish, per News.com.au:

"I just got to the last turn and felt like I just tightened up. My legs were just dead, and obviously, Ariarne took advantage of that and had a heck of a swim. Obviously, this stings a little; it's unfamiliar and different."

Titmus led for the first 200 metres but was then overtaken by Ledecky. However, the Australian produced a brilliant final lap to defeat her rival by one minute and 21 seconds.

The 18-year-old offered her thoughts on a stunning win after the race, per News.com.au:

"I knew that I properly had that in me. I feel pretty normal; it was just a swimming race. There was no pressure really coming into this race. I just wanted to fight as hard as I couldin that last 50 metres, I gave it everything."

Titmus' shock win over Ledecky drew plenty of praise:

Phil Lutton @phillutton78

Titmus! Goes right past! One of the greatest wins in Australian swimming history!

Ben Davis @BenDavis74

We have a new World Champ... and she’s ripper!! Ariarne Titmus just smoked Legend Ledecky in 400m... gutsy fight back - hellva swim. Can’t underestimate how big this is #Terminator

Loretta Race @RettaRace

Titmus' final 50 - 29.51 to Ledecky's 31.34....total guts & determination won that race for the Aussie. Still taking that one in....#Gwangju19

Ledecky will return to action next in the 200 metres, where she will once again come up against Titmus.

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