Katie Ledecky

Katie Ledecky breaks another world record

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Katie Ledecky broke her second world record in four days, slashing 2.86 seconds off her 800m free mark from last year’s World Championships on Sunday.

Ledecky, 17 and the female World Swimmer of the Year, clocked 8 minutes, 11 seconds, at a meet in Texas. She took 2.3 seconds off her 1500m world record at the same pool Thursday.

“I knew I was swimming well, but I didn’t realize until I touched how much faster I was here than in Barcelona,” Ledecky told the Washington Post. “I’d still a bit stunned from this whole weekend. It’s a great feeling.”

The 800m world record is bigger because it’s an Olympic event (Ledecky won the 2012 Olympic 800m free title at age 15). The 1500m free is contested at the World Championships, but not the Olympics.

Ledecky is in spectacular form more than one month before the U.S. Championships, a selection meet for the Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia, later in August, and the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia. Swimmers usually set their training to peak for the major late summer meets.

That’s just what Ledecky did last year, winning gold medals in all four of her World Championships events in Barcelona, including world records in the 800m and 1500m frees.

Ledecky is clearly in a class of her own in those two distances. Nobody is within five seconds of her in the 800m free or 10 seconds in the 1500m free since the start of 2013.

Her next challenges would appear to include the 400m free world record of 3:59.15, set by Italian Federica Pellegrini at the 2009 World Championships (the peak of the high-tech suit era). Ledecky’s personal best is 3:59.82, her 2013 World Championship-winning time. She swam 4:03.09 in Texas on Friday, the fastest time in the world this year.

She also swims the 200m free and has been improving in that distance the last three years — 1:58.66 (2012), 1:56.32 (2013), 1:56.27 (2014). Ledecky was the second fastest U.S. woman in the 200m free last year, behind Missy Franklin, and is the fastest so far this year.

A few notes about Ledecky’s 800m world record Sunday:

She negative split the race, which means she was faster in the second 400m (4:05.3) than the first half (4:05.7).

Her time was 3.63 seconds faster than her Olympic gold swim, which was an American record at the time.

Her time would have been the men’s world record until 1975.

Her split at 400m, 4:05.70, would have won every Olympic 400m gold medal before 2004, except when Janet Evans won in then-world record time in 1988.

How Missy Franklin heard about Ledecky’s world record Thursday

Alison, Bruno rout Phil Dalhausser, Nick Lucena in FIVB World Tour Finals title match

Alison, Bruno
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Brazil looks golden in beach volleyball, 10 months ahead of the Rio Olympics.

Brazilian pairs swept the FIVB World Tour Finals in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Sunday, capped by World champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt crushing 2008 Olympic champion Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena 21-13, 21-15 in a meeting of arguably the world’s two best teams.

Earlier, Larissa and Talita beat Germans Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst 21-17, 21-18 in the women’s final. Larissa and Talita have won 11 of the 16 international tournaments they’ve played since teaming up in July 2014.

Perhaps more dominant are Alison, a 2012 Olympic silver medalist with the legendary Emanuel, and Schmidt, nephew of Olympic basketball all-time scoring leader Oscar Schmidt. They swept the three biggest tournament titles of 2015 — the World Tour Finals plus the World Championships in the Netherlands in July and the World Series of Beach Volleyball in Long Beach, Calif., in August, during a stretch when they won all five FIVB World Tour events in those two months.

Brazil last earned an Olympic beach volleyball title in 2004, with Americans taking three of the four gold medals since. Volleyball, indoor and beach, is arguably the No. 2 sport in Brazil behind soccer, and the 2016 Olympic tournaments on Copacabana Beach will be highly anticipated.

Alison, an imposing 6-foot-8 figure nicknamed “Mammoth” with a matching tattoo, and Bruno also beat Dalhausser and Lucena in the World Series of Beach Volleyball final Aug. 23.

That tournament marked the American duo’s international return after Dalhausser and partner and two-time Olympian Sean Rosenthal split. The Floridians Dalhausser, 35, and Lucena, 36, had previously played together through the 2005 season.

On Wednesday, Dalhausser and Lucena beat Alison and Bruno in three sets in pool play. The two pairs had played 209 points together over two matches going into Sunday’s final, with the Americans holding a 105-104 points won advantage.

Three-time Olympic champion Kerri Walsh Jennings missed the World Tour Finals after undergoing season-ending right shoulder surgery, while partner and Olympic silver medalist April Ross teamed with sub partner Lauren Fendrick and lost in the quarterfinals Friday.

The FIVB World Tour season continues with a tournament in Puerto Vallerta, Mexico, this week.

MORE BEACH VOLLEYBALL: PHOTOS: Alison/Bruno, Dalhausser/Lucena play match on helipad

WATCH LIVE: Possible Olympic final preview in FIVB World Tour Finals — 2:30 p.m. ET

Alison, Bruno
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The World champions will play beach volleyball’s hottest team Sunday in an intriguing FIVB Word Tour Finals championship match and possible Olympic final preview, live on NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra.

Brazilians Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt established themselves as beach volleyball’s best team by winning every international tournament they entered this July and August, including the World Championship.

But the U.S. pair of Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena has been the talk of the sport since partnering in July for the first time since separating in 2005. The duo has only entered five FIVB World Tour events this year, but they have made four finals.

“We don’t consider them to be a new team,” Bruno said. “They already play together so well.”

WATCH LIVE: FIVB World Tour Finals — 2:30 p.m. ET

There are many similarities between the pairs.

Alison and Dalhausser are both intimidating blockers. Dalhausser has been named the FIVB World Tour’s best blocker six times, while Alison was recognized in 2011.

In fact, Lucena called Alison “a thicker version of Phil.” Alison, who is known as “Mammoth,” has 35 pounds on Dalhausser, the “Thin Beast.”

Bruno and Lucena are speedy defensive specialists. Dalhausser called Bruno, nephew of Olympic basketball’s all-time leading scorer Oscar Schmidt, the world’s best defender.

“Bruno might be better than me,” Lucena said, laughing, “but I am taller.”

Both Bruno and Lucena are listed at 6-foot-1.

Dalhausser also compared to Lucena to Todd Rogers, his 2008 Olympic gold medal partner. Dalhausser described Lucena as “more explosive” than Rogers, who was named the FIVB World Tour’s best defensive player three times.

“Todd was super competitive, and Nick is the same way,” Dalhausser said.

Alison and Bruno and Dalhausser and Lucena split their first two meetings (not counting a recent exhibition on a helipad). They’ve played 209 points. Alison and Bruno have won 104. Dalhausser and Lucena have won 105.

Alison and Bruno won the first clash, 21–16, 20–22, 15–13 in the World Series of Beach Volleyball final in Long Beach, Calif., on Aug. 23.

Then Dalhausser and Lucena won Wednesday, 18-21, 21-16, 15-11 in a pool-play match that Lucena called “the most competitive match we’ve played.”

Dalhausser and Lucena, who are both from Florida, are counting on the heat to be a third teammate in Fort Lauderdale.

“We have to wear out the big guy,” Dalhausser said, referring to Alison. “We hope it’s 150 degrees, and we will serve him every time.”

The winning team will receive $100,000. It is the biggest international first-place monetary prize ever.

“They are the best team in the world,” Lucena said. “We want to change that and show what we can do.”

On the women’s side, Brazilians Larissa Franca and Talita Antunes and Germans Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst advanced to Sunday’s final, which will be live on Universal Sports Network at 1:00 p.m. ET. Larissa and Talita have won 10 of the 15 international events they’ve played since debuting in July 2014.

Three-time Olympic champion Kerri Walsh Jennings missed the World Tour Finals due to season-ending right shoulder surgery. Her partner, Olympic silver medalist April Ross, teamed with Lauren Fendrick this past week, and they lost in the quarterfinals.

MORE BEACH VOLLEYBALL: ‘Mammoth,’ ‘Magician,’ bring Brazil back atop beach volleyball