Ledecky Breaks World Record; U.S. Wins Three Gold at FINA World Championships
BARCELONA – Katie Ledecky (Bethesda, Md.) won gold and set a world record in the women’s 1500m freestyle Tuesday at the FINA World Championships, turning in a time of 15:36.53. Ledecky’s gold was one of six medals for the United States on the third night of competition at Palau Sant Jordi.
Also winning gold for the U.S. Tuesday was Missy Franklin (Centennial, Colo.) in the women’s 100m backstroke (58.41) and Matt Grevers (Lake Forest, Ill.) in the men’s 100m backstroke (52.93).
Conor Dwyer (Winnetka, Ill.) took silver in the men’s 200m freestyle in 1:45.32, while David Plummer (Oklahoma City, Okla.) finished second behind Grevers in the 100m back in 53.12. Jessica Hardy (Long Beach, Calif.) won bronze in the women’s 100m breaststroke in 1:05.52.
The Americans’ medal count now stands at 14 – six gold, four silver and four bronze. They lead all countries in both gold medals and total medals won.
In the women’s 1500m free, Ledecky and Lotte Friis of Denmark quickly separated themselves from the pack and were about four or five seconds ahead of world record pace the whole way.
Friis held a slight lead over Ledecky through the 1300-meter mark, when Ledecky pulled ahead. The two were neck-and-neck over the next 100 meters before Ledecky surged ahead for good. Friis finished second about two seconds behind in 15:38.88, followed by Lauren Boyle of New Zealand in 15:44.71. American Chloe Sutton (Mission Viejo, Calif.) finished eighth in 16:09.65.
“The main goal was just to come out on top,” Ledecky said. “I knew we were going pretty fast, and I figured whoever was going to come out on top was going to get the world record. I had to be careful not to push it too early, not to push it too late, and just touch the wall first. Around the last 200, I knew I could take off.”
Both Ledecky and Friis finished ahead of the former world record time of 15:42.54, set by American Kate Ziegler in 2007.
“(The world record) means the world to me,” Ledecky said. “Kate Ziegler, who had the world record, is from my area (back home). I’ve looked up to her my whole life, and I really honored to break that world record and to keep it in Potomac Valley.”
Franklin led the women’s 100m backstroke from start to finish, touching a little more than a half-second ahead of her closest competitor, Emily Seebohm of Australia, who finished in 59.06. Japan’s Aya Terakawa was third in 59.23. Franklin’s teammate, Elizabeth Pelton (Baltimore, Md.), was fourth in 59.45.
The men’s 100m backstroke was classic Grevers, who used his trademark back-half speed to pull ahead in the final 50 meters for the win. Plummer was right there with him, finishing 19-hundredths of a second behind. Jeremy Stravius of France was third in 53.21.
In the men’s 200m freestyle, Yannick Agnel of France was in control of the race from the very first turn, leaving the rest of the field fighting for second. Dwyer swam a controlled race, gaining ground on the pack at each wall.
Fifth at the 150-meter mark, Dwyer reeled his competitors in down the final 50 meters for silver. Agnel was first in 1:44.20, while Danila Izotov of Russia was third in 1:45.59. Ryan Lochte (Daytona Beach, Fla.), who was third at the final wall, slipped to fourth in 1:45.64.
In the women’s 100m breast, everyone was chasing Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte in the women’s 100m breaststroke. On Monday, Meilutyte set the world record in this event in the semifinals in 1:04.35. The former mark, set by Jessica Hardy in 2009, stood at 1:04.45.
Hardy was second behind Meilutyte at the turn in Tuesday’s race, and held on down the homestretch for bronze. Meilutyte won gold in 1:04.42, while Russia’s Yuliya Efimova took silver in 1:05.02. American Breeja Larson (Mesa, Ariz.) finished fifth in 1:06.74.
In tonight’s semifinals action, Kevin Steel (Mooretown, N.J) finished 12th in the men’s 50m breaststroke with a time of 27.60. Missy Franklin qualified second in the 200m freestyle (1:56.05) and Shannon Vreeland (Overland Park, Kansas) was eighth (1:56.76). Tyler Clary (Riverside, Calif.), tied for fourth in the men’s 200m butterfly (1:55.97) and Tom Luchsinger (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) was eighth (1:56.10).
The top eight swimmers in each event will compete in tomorrow night’s finals. In addition, the top eight swimmers from Tuesday’s prelims of the men’s 800m free will also compete in tomorrow night’s finals.
The competition will continue daily through Sunday, Aug. 4 with prelims at 10 a.m. and finals at 6 p.m. local time.
Universal Sports and NBC will offer daily television coverage from Barcelona. Universal Sports will provide daily live coverage through Friday, August 2, at 12 p.m. ET. NBC’s coverage continues Saturday, August 3 from 1-3 p.m. ET and Sunday, August 4 from 4-6 p.m. ET.
For more information about the U.S. Team at FINA World Championships visit, www.usaswimming.org. For complete results, visit www.omegatiming.com.