Ledecky ‘back to work’ after gold medal sweepKAZAN, Russia - There’s no stopping Katie Ledecky. The 18-year-old American virtually raced herself at the world swimming championships, and she was unbeatable.
Ledecky ended her meet in spectacular style Saturday night, lowering her own world record by 3.61 seconds in the 800-meter (0.5-mile) freestyle for her fifth gold medal.
She swam the 16-lap race in 8 minutes, 7.39 seconds, bettering her time of 8:11.00 set last year on home soil.
“I knew that I was capable of going sub-8:10, so to go 8:07 means a lot,” she said.
Ledecky completed a sweep of the 200, 400, 800 and 1,500 freestyles in Kazan. She swam the anchor leg on the victorious 4x200 free relay as well.
“It’s really neat to say that you’ve done something nobody has done before,” Ledecky said. “I’ll enjoy this for a few days and then I’ll get back to work, and hopefully there’s more to come.”
She improved her results from two years ago in Barcelona, where she won four golds and set two world records. In Kazan, she won the 400 by 3.89 seconds, the 800 by 10.26 seconds and the 1,500 by 14.66 seconds, taking down her old world record in the preliminaries and the final.
Her closest race was the 200 free, when she rallied from fourth to win by 0.16 seconds.
“It could have been really tiring and it was,” Ledecky said. “But I recovered very well. I did what I needed to do to set myself up well each time that I got up on the blocks. I’m just proud of how I handled my races.”
On the men’s side, Sun Yang of China is poised for a nearly similar feat. He won the 400 and 800 freestyles. Sun finished second in the 200 free by 0.06 seconds.
Ledecky was under world record pace throughout the 800, leaving the other swimmers trailing well behind her wake. She tore off one of her two swim caps and smashed the water with her hand in celebration of her third world record in Russia.
“I really love to see what she can do,” said Lauren Boyle, the silver medalist from New Zealand. “It shows what is possible for the human body. It’s very inspiring for me.”
Chad le Clos defended his title in the 100 butterfly, rallying late to edge Laszlo Cseh of Hungary in the absence of Olympic champion Michael Phelps, who beat Le Clos in London three years ago.
The South African was second at the turn and then poured it on down the stretch, touching in 50.56 seconds. Cseh was second in 50.87.
Le Clos slapped the water with his right hand, then pounded his chest and nodded his head as if to say yes. His father frantically urged him on from the stands.
About eight hours later, Phelps responded by beating Le Clos’ time to win the 100 butterfly at the U.S. national championships in Texas. His time was 50.45 seconds, nearly a second faster than his gold medal winning time in London.
Phelps has missed the last two worlds, and Le Clos has emerged as the fly king in his absence. The American qualified for the meet in Kazan, but was forced to sit out as a result of his suspension by USA Swimming for a second drunk driving arrest.
“I’m just very happy that he’s back to his good form, so he can’t come out and say, ‘Oh, I haven’t been training’ or all that rubbish that he’s been talking,” Le Clos said. “I’ll relish the opportunity to race him again.”
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