Katie Ledecky smashes 1,500 freestyle world record
BARCELONA - Reuters
US swimmer Katie Ledecky celebrates after winning the final of the women's 1500-metre freestyle swimming event in the FINA World Championships at Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona on July 30, 2013. AFP PhotoAmerican teenager Katie Ledecky smashed the world record in the women's 1,500 metres freestyle final by more than six seconds during a glittering session for the United States at the world championships on Tuesday.
The 16-year-old from Bethesda, who also won the 400 freestyle gold medal on Sunday, powered away from defending champion Lotte Friis of Denmark in the final stages to break the previous best of 15:42.54 set by compatriot Kate Ziegler in 2007.
It was the second world record of the championships in the specially constructed pool at the hilltop Palau Sant Jordi after Ruta Meilutyte's mark in qualifying for the 100 metres breaststroke on Monday.
Lithuanian Meilutyte, born two days after Ledecky in March 1997, went on to claim a first world championship gold for the tiny Baltic nation when she triumphed in Tuesday's final.
She was unable to better Monday's effort but still produced the second-fastest time ever of 1:04.42, just seven hundredths slower than her record 1:04.35.
Ledecky's team mate Missy Franklin, who won four gold medals and one bronze in last year's London Olympics, secured her second gold of the week with victory in the 100 metres breaststroke and Matt Grevers claimed the 100 metres backstroke title.
Ryan Lochte, the second-most decorated men's world championship medallist after compatriot Michael Phelps, provided a rare moment of disappointment for the U.S. team when he could manage only fourth in the 200 metres freestyle final.
Frenchman Yannick Agnel followed up on his triumph at last year's London Olympics to take gold and Conor Dwyer salvaged some pride for the U.S. with silver.
"We've had an absolutely incredible evening," an excited Franklin, who is swimming eight events in Barcelona, told reporters.
Ledecky sat on the shoulder of Friis for much of their two-horse race but the Dane was left trailing by a powerful late charge from the Olympic 800 metres champion and finished with silver in 15:38.88, also inside Ziegler's mark.
Lauren Boyle of New Zealand was third in 15:44.71 ahead of Spain's Mireia Belmonte Garcia in 15:58.83.
"It was really tough, my hardest race ever," Ledecky told reporters.
"I knew we were going pretty fast and I figured that whoever came out on top was probably going to get the world record.
"I had to be careful not to push it too early or push it too late and just touch the wall first. Around the last 200 I knew I could take off."