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Katie Ledecky wins 1500 meters at world swimming championships

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Gold medals at the FINA World Championships should never be taken for granted, not even when the swimmer is Katie Ledecky and the race is the 1,500 meter freestyle – a point underscored Monday by the fact that Ledecky didn’t was not even the defending champion at the Duna Arena in Budapest. , after pulling out of the 1,500 due to illness three years ago in Gwangju, South Korea.

But once Ledecky, 25, stepped onto the pool deck and took his place on the starting blocks on Monday, the race was almost over, with the only questions remaining being how far and how far she would go. where she would finish ahead of the peloton. The answers: 15 minutes 30.15 seconds (the sixth fastest time in history) and half a pool length.

Ledecky’s gold medal was her second in two races at this meet and the 17th of her world championship career, the most of any swimmer and third behind Michael Phelps (26) and Ryan Lochte (18) . With the 800 free and 4×200 free relays remaining, she could overtake Lochte by the end of the competition.

Katie Ledecky is 25 and getting faster, always hitting another wall

Her American teammate Katie Grimes, a 16-year-old who is part of the generation of young distance swimmers inspired by Ledecky, won the silver medal in 15:44.89, while Australia’s Lani Pallister (15:48.96) won bronze.

“It’s pretty wild,” Ledecky told NBC in a poolside interview after the race when asked about her medal career, “because I feel like it was yesterday that I was in Barcelona during my first world championships. [in 2013].”

At the wall after the race, Ledecky hit the water in celebration, then greeted Grimes in the next lane with a high-five and a hug.

“Just to see how far she’s come in a year and how mature she is and how much energy she brings to the team – I don’t think I was like that when I was her age,” Ledecky said of Grimes. “It’s just awesome to be on the blocks next to her, and to share this moment with her is really awesome.”

Ledecky hasn’t lost in the 1,500m in over a decade, and she holds the 13 fastest times in history over that distance. Although his time on Monday was almost 10 seconds off his world record of 15:20.48 from 2018, it was significantly faster than his winning time last year at the Tokyo Olympics (15:37.34) – more evidence that his move last fall to Gainesville, Fla., and trainer Anthony Nesty is paying off.

“It takes a lot of hard work,” Ledecky told reporters of his continued dominance a decade after his breakthrough gold medal in the 800m freestyle at the 2012 London Olympics. pool in terms of recovery, especially as you get older. To have this longevity, you cannot be complacent.

Ledecky and Grimes’ brace headlined a six-medal haul for Team USA on day three of the world championships. Regan Smith won gold in the women’s 100-meter backstroke, with Claire Curzan winning bronze; Ryan Murphy and Hunter Armstrong won silver and bronze in the men’s 100 backstroke.

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