WOMEN’S 200 FREE FINAL
Ledecky will try to defend her Olympic gold medal won in Rio five years ago. As for Schmitt, she will return to swim the event at the Olympics. She swam the event in 2008, in Beijing, and in 2012, in London, when she won the gold medal and set the current American record. In 2016, she make the Olympic team, but as a relay-only swimmer.
Since Italian Federica Pellegrini, the winner of the gold medal in 2008, will also compete in Tokyo, we will see the last three Olympic champions in the event face each other. In fact, it is the first time in history that an individual swimming event will see its last three Olympic champions competing on the Olympic stage.
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The most past Olympic champions we have seen in the same race was two. It is not frequent, but it is not that rare either. For example, in 2016, Sun Yang, the 2012 champion, and Tae-Hwan Park, the 2008 gold medalist, competed in the men’s 400 free. Missy Franklin and Kirsty Coventry, the two most recent Olympic champions in the women’s 200 back at that time, faced each other.
But never before we have seen three Olympic champions of the same individual event compete against each other in this event on the Olympic stage. Pellegrini, Schmitt and Ledecky are already swimming legends. It will not be an easy task for any of them winning the gold medal again in the event, since they will be challenged by fierce competitors like Australians Ariarne Titmus and Emma McKeon. That’s why the women’s 200 free must be one of the most exciting races of the Tokyo Olympics.