Tokyo 2020, Oceania Day 7: Titmus Collects Silver During Third Ledecky Matchup


The big question heading into the 7th finals session at the Tokyo 2020 Games was whether or not Australia’s Ariarne Titmus would be able to deny American Katie Ledecky a 3rd straight Olympic title in the women’s 800 freestyle.

The answer to that question wound up being no as Ledecky pulled off the victory with an 8:12.79 for gold but Titmus managed nonetheless to notch an impressive 8:13.83 for the silver medal.

The women’s 800 was actually Titmus and Ledecky’s 3rd battle of the meet, following the 200 and 400 freestyle finals where Titmus did end up defeating the reigning Olympic champ Ledecky. In the 200, Titmus notched a 1:53.50 in the final for a new Olympic record while Ledecky missed the podium in a 1:55.21 for 5th. The 400 freestyle was the closest race of the lot as Titmus nabbed the gold medal with a 3:56.69, just ahead of Ledecky’s 3:57.36.

By taking the silver medal in the women’s 800 freestyle, Titmus became just the 5th Australian woman to win a medal in the event in 14 editions of the race. While 5 Australian’s have officially medalled in the event, Australia technically only has 4 medals. That’s because in 1980 when Australia, along with a number of other nations, boycotted the Games in protest of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. Despite the protest, Australian swimmer Michelle Ford decided to attend the Games in Moscow, competing under the Olympic flag.

Ford won the gold medal for Australia at those Games and became the first Australian woman to top the podium in the event. She holds that distinction to this day as the other 4 women, Titmus included, to make the podium for Australia have fallen short of gold. Shane Gould became the first Olympic medalist for Australia in the event when she took gold back in 1972 to the USA’s Keena Rothhammer.

After Ford’s 1980 victory, Julie McDonald and Hayley Lewis got onto 2 straight Olympic podiums in 1988 and 1992. McDonald took bronze in the event in ’88 while Lewis was silver in ’92 with American Janet Evans taking gold at both Games. After Lewis in 1992, Australia was off the 800 freestyle podium at every Olympics until Tokyo 2020 when Titmus ended the streak.

Titmus will walk away from her debut Olympic Games with 2 individual gold medals, an individual silver, and a relay bronze in the 4×200 freestyle relay. That medal haul for Titmus is just one short of the record for most Olympic medals won by an Australian at a single Games which currently sits at 5 (Ian Thorpe (2000), Shane Gould (1972), Alicia Coutts (2012), Emma McKeon (2020)).

Oceania Day 5 Quick Hits

  • Emma McKeon became the 4th Australian in history to win 5 Olympic medals at a single Games as she contributed to Australia’s bronze medal-winning 4×100 mixed medley relay. McKeon will have a shot at surpassing that record as she will likely swim both the 50 freestyle and women’s 4×100 medley final during the last session of the meet.
  • McKeon also raced the 50 freestyle semi-finals and placed 1st in the field with a 24.00 Olympic record. Cate Campbell will advance for Australia as well, having hit a 24.27 for 6th overall.
  • Kaylee McKeown and Emily Seebohm added to the excitement for Australia on day 7 as they powered their way to the podium in the women’s 200 backstroke. McKeown was 1st with a 2:04.68 to trail Missy Franklin’s 2:04.06 Olympic record from 2012 and Emily Seebohm followed with a 2:06.17 for bronze behind Canada’s Kylie Masse (2:05.42).
  • Matthew Temple represented the only individual male finalist for Australia during day 7 and swam his way to a 5th place finish in the 100 butterfly. He swam a 50.92 to tie Jakub Majerski of Poland.
  • Kiah Melverton of Australia also swam the women’s 800 freestyle final and delivered an 8:22.25 for 6th place.

Continental & National Records Through Day 5

  • Lewis Clareburt set a new Oceania and New Zealand record of 4:09.49 during heat 3 of the men’s 400 IM prelims.
  • Right after Clareburt’s swim Australian, Brendon Smith took the Oceanic record from Clareburt with a 4:09.27 in heat 4. That left Clareburt with the New Zealand record and gave Smith the Australian and Oceanic marks.
  • Emma McKeon swam her way to a 55.82 Australian, Oceanic, and Commonwealth record during the prelims of the event. She then lowered the Australian and Oceanian records to a 55.72 during the final which was good enough for bronze.
  • During the final race of the night, the Australian women become the first-ever nation to get under 3:30 in the 4×100 free with their world record-breaking 3:29.69.
  • Ariarne Titmus secured a new Australian, Oceanian, and Commonwealth record during the women’s 400 freestyle with her 3:56.69 for gold.
  • Kaylee McKeown hit a 57.88 Olympic record during the women’s 100 backstroke prelims which was broken by Regan Smith 1 heat earlier (57.96) who took it from Kylie Masse 1 heat earlier (58.17). The record was previously held by Emily Seebohm at a 58.23 from 2012. Regan Smith took the record back with a 57.68 during semi-finals until McKeown brought it down to a 57.47 (just 0.02 off her own world record) in the final.
  • Ariarne Titmus‘ 1:53.50 gold medal time in the women’s 200 freestyle was a new Olympic record, improving upon Allison Schmitt‘s 1:53.61 from 2012. She got within half a second of her own Australian record in the event of 1:53.09.
  • McKeon clocked 52.11 for a new Olympic Record in the women’s 100 free prelims.
  • Zac Stubblety-Cook lowered the Olympic Record in the men’s 200 breaststroke in 2:06.38.
  • The team of Titmus, McKeon, Madi Wilson, and Leah Neale set a new Commonwealth, Oceanian and Australian Record in the 800 free relay in 7:41.29.
  • En route to Olympic gold Emma McKeon set a new Olympic, Commonwealth, and Oceanian, and Australian 100 freestyle record of 51.96.
  • Emma McKeon broke the Olympic record twice in 50 freestyle. She first hit a 24.02 in the prelims which she followed with a 24.00 for first place in the semis. She will have 1 more shot at getting under 24 seconds and she vies for gold.
  • As previously mentioned, McKeon also became the 4th Australian in history to win 5 medals at a single Olympics when she and her fellow Aussies took bronze in the 4×100 mixed medley relay. She could break the record and bring it to 7 if she makes it onto the podium in the 50 free and women’s 4×100 medley on the final day of the meet. In terms of career Olympic medals, her 4 from Rio and 5 in Tokyo bring her to 9 medals total to tie Ian Thorpe and Leisel Jones as most decorated Australian Olympian.
  • Ariarne Titmus‘ silver medal swim in the 800 freestyle marked a new Oceanian, Commonwealth, and Australian record of 8:13.83 to improve upon her former mark of 8:15.57.

Medals Table for Oceania Through Day 5

Australia 14 6 2 6

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1 year ago

There is no doubt that Ledecky will be a force in three years’ time. I also feel that more and more swimmers will close the gap that Titmus did this year. Mcintosh, Grimes, Tuncel and Fairweather, have all shown the potential to get to that level.

It’s going to be exciting that’s for sure.

1 year ago

Kylie Masse gets her own article for silver, while Kaylee doing the double gold plus Emily’s bronze is barely a footnote

Reply to  Sub13
1 year ago

Of course you post an article about it after I make this comment lol

1 year ago

Where is Dean B. painting after the 800……I like his energy, but its about the swimmer not coach

M d e
Reply to  DEANO
1 year ago

To be entirely fair he didn’t ask them to point a camera at him, and he is like that when the cameras are off too.

I don’t love it and wouldn’t behave that way, but it is 100% authentic.

1969 swimmer
1 year ago

Shane Gould took silver, not gold, to Keena Rothhammer in the 800 free in 1972.

He said what?
1 year ago

Actually, in 1972, Rothammer placed fifth in the 400, not second.

Irish Ringer
1 year ago

The days of Katie going under 8:10 may have ended, and if she wants to continue looks like Titmus could dip below 8:10.

Reply to  Irish Ringer
1 year ago

Agree on ledecky (unless she swims a much smaller program) but would not take for granted that timus will ever go faster than she did in Tokyo. Ledecky and pretty much every other distance swimmer ever has peaked by 20 or 21… enjoy the moment while you can!

Reply to  Caleb
1 year ago

In Paris Titmus will be of the age Ledecky is now. The chances are high that she will bounce back to 8:16 – 8:18 if not worse. Where would Ladecky’s times be is hard to predict because she is uniquely good at the age of 24. This season
1:54.4 (1:53.73 relay)
8:12 (at the end of 6200m of racing during Olympic week)
15:35 ( double/ double with 200)
Most likely she will plateau around 8:14 – 8:15

Reply to  Yozhik
1 year ago

you are comparing two incomparable things. Ledecky was a precocious star at 15. Titmus wasn’t. I think Titmus has another gear and can become even better.

beach jason 343
Reply to  Irish Ringer
1 year ago

I’m thinking since she’s done with Stanford now she’s going back to her old coach and things will get better for her!

Mr Piano
Reply to  beach jason 343
1 year ago

Ledecky went 15:20 at standford, and has gone 1:54 mid many times in the last several years. She hit her 2nd best time in the 400 in Tokyo. Her decline has little to do with leaving Bruce imo, and more to do with burnout. Like imagine being Ledecky and grinding out distance sets for years and years leading up to 2016? Then imagine going forward and continuing to grind those sets as you’re getting a Stanford degree. Nobody can be at 100 percent forever.

Reply to  Irish Ringer
1 year ago

Ledecky may have been swimming to win, and she won.

Stephen Loibl
1 year ago

She commented on how not prepared she was for that 800. After a day off, she said her whole mind and body switched off. So in terms of finishing times, she was quite pleased and surprised.