Katie Ledecky isn’t one to back down, but battling an undisclosed medical condition, the five-time Olympic gold medalist withdrew from multiple races at the FINA World Championships this week.
Since arriving in Gwangju, South Korea, just over a week ago for the FINA World Championships, Ledecky, 22, has reportedly been suffering from some kind of physical ailment, U.S. women’s swimming coach Greg Meehan told the Washington Post.
On Sunday, Ledecky was defeated in a major international competition for the first time, falling to second place in the 400m freestyle event, behind Ariarne Titmus, 18, of Australia.
Despite the worlds being the last large international competition before the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, Ledecky pulled out of the morning preliminaries of the 200m freestyle.
“A decision has been made by Team U.S.A. in consultation with Katie, her coach and the team’s medical staff for her to withdraw from the 200-meter freestyle event on medical grounds,” Team USA Managing National Team Director Lindsey Mintenko said in a statement reported by the Olympic Channel. Mintenko added, “Katie has not been feeling well since arriving to Gwangju on July 17th and these precautionary measures are being taken to ensure her well-being and proper recovery and to allow her to focus her energy on an abbreviated schedule.”
Just a few hours after her initial withdrawal, it was also announced that Ledecky would not be competing in the evening final of the 1,500m freestyle — which is typically her best event — ESPN reported.
A gold medal this year would have marked her fourth straight world title in the event. Ledecky was the top qualifier after Monday’s heats, and currently holds the world record time.
Ledecky’s withdrawal from competition is reported to be a precautionary measure for medical reasons, but the swimmer has not been officially diagnosed by doctors, according to the New York Times. She has not been in the pool since her warm down after the 1,500m race on Monday.
“She was feeling a little bit better last night, and then we were hopeful today,” Meehan said on Monday, NBC Sports reported. “But woke up this morning and was not feeling well at all. We’re just going to take it session by session and then day by day. And then if we can get her back in the meet at some point, that would be ideal scenario.”
The swimmer is later scheduled to compete in the 800m freestyle and the 4x200m freestyle relay.