Katie Ledecky shatters 1500m freestyle world record

The 16-year-old obliterated the world record in the 1,500-meter freestyle by more than 6 seconds.

Written by Associated Press | Barcelona | Published: July 31, 2013 1:17:26 am

American teenager Katie Ledecky smashed the world record in the 1,500 freestyle for her second gold medal at the world swimming championships on Tuesday.

Looking stronger at the end of the grueling race than she did at the beginning,the 16-year-old obliterated the world record in the 1,500-meter freestyle by more than 6 seconds Tuesday night for her second gold medal at the world swimming championships. “She’s absolutely fit,” marveled Mereia Belmonte of Spain,who finished far back in fourth. “Impressive. She’s probably made in the same factory as Michael Phelps.”

Fellow American Missy Franklin picked up her second gold medal,as well. Cruising through a demanding double,the 18-year-old star of the London Olympics easily won the 100 backstroke,then returned about an hour later to post the second-fastest time in the semifinals of the 200 free.

“It’s tough but it’s fun,” Franklin said. “I’m super happy with my 100 back. It really got me pumped up for the 200 free.”

It was a good night for the Americans after they failed to win gold the previous day. Matt Grevers and David Plummer went 1-2 in the 100 backstroke for the third U.S. victory of the session. Conor Dwyer picked up a silver behind France’s Yannick Agnel in the 200 free,and Jessica Hardy chipped in with a bronze in the 100 breaststroke. The only disappointment for the U.S. was Ryan Lochte,who labored to a fourth-place finish in the 200 free.

No such concerns for Ledecky,who is clearly in top form. She went stroke for stroke much of the race with defending world champion Lotte Friis,the Danish swimmer slightly ahead and both well under the world-record pace set by Kate Ziegler in 2007.

Ledecky edged out front at the 1,300 mark and began to pull away,touching in 15 minutes,36.53 seconds. A woman ran through the crowd with a blue flag that proclaimed “World Record” —Ziegler’s mark of 15:42.54 never standing a chance.

Friis also went under the old record,15:38.88,but it was only good enough for silver. New Zealand’s Lauren Boyle took the bronze.

“Around the last 200,I knew I could take off,” Ledecky said.

The 1,500 is a non-Olympic event — the longest women’s race at the Summer Games is the 800 — but that made the achievement no less impressive.

Stronger than ever

Ledecky looks even stronger than she did last year while winning Olympic gold in the 800 free,a stunning breakthrough for someone barely known on the international stage.

“It was really tough,my hardest race ever,” Ledecky said. “I knew we were going pretty fast and I figured that whoever was going to come out on top was probably going to get the world record. So I just had to be careful not to push it too early or push it too late and just touch the wall first.”

Franklin breezed to victory in the 100 back in 58.42 seconds. After capturing four golds and a bronze at the London Olympics,the recent high school graduate is trying to join Phelps as the only swimmers to win eight events at a major championship. She is now 2 for 2 at the Palau Sant Jordi,adding to gold in the 4×100 free relay.

After the medal ceremony,Franklin hustled off to get ready for the 200 free semifinals. She only just qualified for the final of that event in London,and was edged out for a bronze medal by one-hundredth of a second. Franklin easily qualified for the final with the second-fastest time,1:56.05,trailing only world-record holder Federica Pellegrini of Italy.

Agnel blew away the field —Lochte included — in the men’s 200 free. The big Frenchman pushed the pace right from the start and never let up. He finished in 1:44.20,a full body length ahead.

Meilutyte misses record

Meilutyte just missed the world record she set the previous night in the semifinals of the 100 breast,winning in 1:04.42. Russia’s Yuliya Efimova was next in 1:05.02,while Hardy—the former world-record holder — pulled out a bronze in 1:05.52.

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