28-year-old Italian swimmer pulls off white-knuckle comeback at World Championships to hand Katie Ledecky her first international individual loss

federica pellegriniClive Rose/Getty

Katie Ledecky suffered her first individual loss at a major international meet on Wednesday at the hands of Italy’s Federica Pellegrini.

Ledecky entered the 200-meter freestyle final as the favorite, as she had won 13 of 13 finals in this event during international competitions in her career.

In the first 100 meters of the final, Australia’s Emma McKeon raced out to the lead, followed by Ledecky. However, as she is wont to do, in the third and fourth laps, Ledecky began surging ahead, gaining momentum as the race went on.

In the last 50 meters, it appeared as though the winner would be Ledecky or McKeon, when suddenly, Pellegrini came out of nowhere in lane six.

Over the final 25 meters, Pellegrini looked well behind, and the announcers were solely focused on Ledecky and McKeon.

200m_final_2NBC/FINA

However, when Pellegrini pulled even with Ledecky and McKeon, the announcers lost it. “Pellegrini’s coming!” shouted Rowdy Gaines.

Finally, Pellegrini out-touched Ledecky and McKeon with a time of 1:54.73. McKeon and Ledecky tied for silver at 1:55.18.

Afterward, Pellegrini, who is the world-record holder in the event, let out an animated celebration.

Surprisingly, Pellegrini’s finishing time was actually .04 seconds slower than Ledecky’s winning time in the semifinals. Ledecky said after the race that she didn’t feel like herself and was “scrambling” later on.

Watch the exciting race below:

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