Ledecky leads the USA on the first day of the world championships

KATIE Ledecky of the USA competes on her way to victory in the 400m freestyle final at the FINA World Championships.—Reuters

BUDAPEST. Olympic silver medalist Katie Ledecky cruised to victory in the women’s 400m freestyle event on the opening day of the world swimming championships in Budapest on Saturday to capture a record-extending 16th gold medal in the competition.

Ledecky, 25, was already the most successful swimmer at world championships and now has 19 medals in total. Only her male compatriots Michael Phelps (26 titles) and Ryan Lochte (18) have won more gold medals.

Ledecky made the most of the absence of reigning world and Olympic champion Ariarne Titmus of Australia to claim her title with a time of three minutes and 58.15 seconds, finishing ahead of 15-year-old Canadian Summer McIntosh, who took the silver.

American Leah Smith was third, almost four seconds behind her compatriot.

“It feels good. It’s the fastest Worlds I’ve ever had, so I’m really happy with that and really excited for the rest of the week ahead,” Ledecky told Olympics.com.

“Summer is now in the sub-four-minute club, so it’s only going to get harder. I know I have a lot of work ahead of me.”

Titmus, who set the world record of 3:56.40 at his national championships last month to eclipse Ledecky’s mark, denied fans another showdown with his rival after opting to skip worlds to prepare for the Commonwealth Games in next month in Birmingham.

Ledecky was on course to regain the record halfway through his race before his pace dropped a bit, but he fended off a strong challenge from McIntosh to claim a fourth world title in the event settling for silver in 2019.

The US men’s 4x100m freestyle team briefly threatened to break the world record, but ultimately finished 1.1 seconds short of the gold mark, finishing in three minutes and 9.34 seconds.

The team of Caeleb Dressel, Ryan Held, Justin Ress and Brooks Curry edged out Australia for first place, while Italy came in third, missing out on the silver medal by 0.15 seconds.

The Australian women’s team, however, did not disappoint as the reigning Olympic champions won gold in the same event, beating Canada and the United States by more than a second.

The team of Mollie O’Callaghan, Madison Wilson, Meg Harris and Shayna Jack finished with a time of 3:30.95.

Australia’s Elijah Winnington finished strong to win the men’s 400m freestyle event, earning his first individual gold medal at worlds.

The 22-year-old finished in 3:41.22 seconds, going 1.63 seconds faster than Germany’s Lukas Martens, who took silver at the Duna Arena.

“I tried to have fun in the pool and enjoy this whole experience,” Winnington said after setting the third-fastest time at the world championships.

“In the last call room I heard the noise, the MC [master of ceremonies] voice and it was a total boost for me. I haven’t had this feeling in a long time.”

Guilherme Costa of Brazil took bronze while Felix Auboeck of Austria, who dominated the heats earlier in the day, could only manage fourth despite a strong start.

Frenchman Leon Marchand won the 400m medley in a championship-record time of four minutes and 4.28 seconds to beat Americans Carson Foster and Chase Kalisz to the top of the podium and claim his first world title.

Previously, the Japanese Yukiko Inui took the first gold in the 19th edition of the world championships, by winning the women’s solo technical event. Ukrainian Marta Fiedina won silver while Greek Evangelia Platanioti took bronze.

Posted in Alba, June 20, 2022


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