'What on earth': America stunned by brutal Katie Ledecky first

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Katie Ledecky and Ariarne Titmus, pictured here after the 200m freestyle final.
Katie Ledecky failed to make the podium for the first time in her Olympics career. Image: Getty

Katie Ledecky has failed to make the podium in an international swimming final for the first time in her legendary career.

Australia's new golden girl Ariarne Titmus made it a double delight on Tuesday as she added the 200m gold to her 400m crown.

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The 200m final was billed as another showdown between Titmus and Ledecky after the Aussie mowed down the American legend in the 400m.

But Ledecky finished fifth on Tuesday, with Titmus' main challenge coming from China's Hong Kong-based swimmer Siobhan Bernadette Haughey.

Haughey held the lead until the last 20 metres when Titmus finished in a flurry to win in an Olympic record time of one minute 53.50 seconds.

Haughey (1:53.92) took silver with Canadian Penny Oleksiak (1:54.70) claiming bronze.

Ledecky's fifth-placed finish marked the first time she's ever failed to make the podium in an Olympic or international final.

She had qualified for 36 finals in major international meets in her career, and until Wednesday had medalled in all of them.

American fans expressed their disbelief on social media.

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However the American champion bounced back less than an hour later by winning gold in the first-ever women's 1500m race at the Olympics.

Ariarne Titmus secures Australia's equal-best Olympics day

As for Titmus, she joins Shane Gould in 1972 as Australian women to complete the 200m-400m golden double at an Olympics.

“I was trying to move Siobhan down on the third 50m. I had no idea where she was on the last lap," Titmus told Channel 7.

"I knew I had Katie covered but Siobhan was the person that was there. I felt a little bit that was there. My legs started to go a bit, but I'm happy to get it done."

Katie Ledecky, pictured here after finishing fifth in the 200m freestyle final at the Olympics.
Katie Ledecky looks on after finishing fifth in the 200m freestyle final at the Olympics. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

She will meet Ledecky once more at the Tokyo Games, with the American red-hot favourite over the longer distance in the 800m.

“I don't think it will settle in until I get home and have a rest," she said.

"I mean, when you're in this situation you have to compartmentalise everything and I think once I stop racing I can release everything and (stop) thinking about on to the (4x200m) relay and the 800m now. 

"I don't want to ruin the rest of my meet by celebrating too hard, but I'm very proud of what I've achieved.”

Aussie legend Ian Thorpe said of the 800m: "When it comes to what will be the 3.0 battle in the 800 freestyle, that is when Katie Ledecky has Arnie covered.

"And I want Arnie to prove me wrong."

Titmus' second gold lifted Australia's medal tally at the Tokyo Games to six gold, one silver and five bronze medals.

After two gold medals in the rowing on Wednesday morning, Titmus secured Australia's equal-best day ever at an Olympic Games.

with AAP

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