In a result two years in the making, 20-year-old Australian Ariarne Titmus dealt Katie Ledecky her first loss in individual Olympic competition Saturday in a marquee 400m freestyle final.
Titmus finished in 3:56.69 for her first career Olympic gold medal, the second-fastest swim of all-time in the event behind Ledecky's world record, set at the Rio 2016 Games.
Ledecky swam her quickest 400 free in three years to take silver, 0.67 seconds behind Titmus. It was the fourth-fastest time in history.
Ledecky led the majority of the race and took a slight advantage into the final 100. Titmus pulled ahead at the turn for the final length of the pool and closed well to hold off Ledecky's late charge.
China's Li Bingjie took bronze, over three seconds behind the top two.
Ledecky hid any potential discouragement after the loss. "I can't be disappointed with that, it was a great time for me." Ledecky had not broken 3:59 in any 400 free race since 2018. She did so by over a second and a half Sunday.
After the race, Titmus and Ledecky embraced, with the Aussie telling her American rival, "I couldn't have done it without you."
Titmus has now beaten Ledecky at consecutive major championships after stunning the swimming world with a win at the 2019 World Championships.
As Titmus closed out the victory, her coach, Dean Boxall, cheered wildly inside the Tokyo Aquatics Center.
During Titmus' training sessions, Boxall has been known to shout Ledecky's name as Titmus swims, for motivation.
The pair will likely meet again in the 200m freestyle, where Titmus will be heavily favored. Ledecky remains the prohibitive favorite in the 800m and 1500m freestyle races, later in the Games.