KAZAN, Russia – Katie Ledecky won gold and set a world record in the women’s 1500m freestyle Tuesday at the XVI FINA World Championships, turning in a time of 15:25.48.
It was her second gold medal of the meet after winning the 400m freestyle on the first night of competition. It was also her second world record of the meet after setting a mark of 15:27.71 in yesterday’s prelims.
The 1500 was one of two swims for Ledecky Tuesday. She also competed in the semifinals of the women’s 200m freestyle, qualifying sixth for tomorrow night’s finals in 1:56.76.
In the 1500, Ledecky wasted no time taking the lead. She was ahead of the field by a body length after the first turn, and continued to build on that lead with each lap.
She also built her lead on the world record line throughout the race. At the 500-meter mark, she was 2.06 seconds ahead of world-record pace. At 1,000 meters, she was 2.32 seconds ahead, a pace which she more or less maintained through the finish.
New Zealand’s Lauren Boyle touched second behind Ledecky in 15:40.14, followed by Boglarka Kapstun of Hungary in third in 15:47.09.
Less than a half hour later, Ledecky was back in the water for the semifinals of the 200m free. In her heat, she was in eighth-place at the halfway mark and seventh after the final turn. A burst of speed in the last 25 meters secured third place in her heat and the sixth-place qualifying time.
“Today was a really tough day for me. I knew I was going to have this double today, and I knew that I was prepared for it,” Ledecky said. “After the 1500… I was able to get right to the warm-down pool. I probably did about 700 warm-down, and then I got out of the pool and put my parka on and went to the ready room for the 200.
“In terms of what I was feeling, before the 200, my legs kind of felt like Jell-o, and I was kind of surprised, because I barely kicked in the mile. So I was a little worried. Then I dove in, and my arms felt really, really sore. My legs felt better than my arms, so I knew I had to kick.
“Yes, it did hurt a lot, but I got the job done. It feels really, really good right now… It was a little tougher than I was hoping it would be. You never know how everything is going to play out. The 200 field was really strong, and there were some really fast times posted in the first heat, and my heat was really fast. I was getting pretty nervous halfway through that race.”
Ledecky’s gold was one of two medals for the United States on the third day of competition. Matt Grevers also took bronze in the men’s 100m backstroke in 52.66.
Grevers was first at the 50 in the men’s 100m backstroke, but couldn’t hold off Mitchell Larkin of Australia and Camille LaCourt of France in the final half of the race. Larkin touched first in 52.48. LaCourt was second in 52.48.
Despite the hardware, Grevers was disappointed in his race.
“I knew going in that I would have to have the perfect race, and I did not have the perfect race,” Grevers said. “Right off the bat my arms came out of streamline from my head. Breaking a streamline is a big loss of momentum, and trying to get it back I might have had to use a little more energy than I wanted to that first 50. Then I hurt on the back end.
“Just a lot of little things that added up. To go 52.4, I needed to be at my best – just a lot of little mess ups.
“I’m very surprised I lost the back half of that. That’s not how I train. I train to finish. I don’t train to die. I practice living, not dying. So dying there was very disappointing.”
The American medal count now stands at four for the week – two golds and two bronze.
In other races, Ryan Lochte came up short in a very competitive 200m freestyle, finishing fourth in 1:45.83. The top five places were separated by just 77-hundredths of a second. Great Britain’s James Guy was first in 1:45.14, followed by China’s Sun Yang in 1:45.20 and Germany’s Paul Biedermann in 1:45.38.
Missy Franklin and Kathleen Baker finished fifth and eighth in the women’s 100m backstroke, turning in times of 59.40 and 59.99. Australia’s Emily Seebohm topped the field in 58.26, with teammate Madison Wilson taking second in 58.75 and Denmark’s Mie Nielsen taking third in 58.86.
Franklin also followed up her appearance in the finals with a double in the semifinals of the 200m freestyle. She is the second seed headed into tomorrow night’s finals with a time of 1:56.37.
No Americans competed in the finals of the women’s 100m breaststroke. Gold in that event went to Russia’s Yuliya Effimova in 1:05.66.
In other highlights for the U.S., Kevin Cordes set an American record in the semifinals of the men’s 50m breast in 26.76. He is the third seed headed into tomorrow night’s finals.
Other Americans swimming in semifinals Tuesday were Tom Shields and Tyler Clary, who finished eighth and twelfth, respectively, in the 200m butterfly, with times of 1:55.75 and 1:56.47.