Katie Ledecky breaks 400m freestyle world record (video)

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IRVINE, Calif. — Is there anything Katie Ledecky can’t do?

“I haven’t thrown up after a race yet,” she joked after breaking her third world record in the last two months Saturday. “Maybe that’s what I’ve got to shoot for.”

Ledecky, 17, won the 400m freestyle at the U.S. Championships in 3:58.86 to beat Italian Federica Pellegrini‘s record of 3:59.15 set at the 2009 World Championships.

“Honestly, I didn’t think about it too much,” Ledecky said. “I just wanted to put together a good swim and go a best time. That’s what I did. I’m happy.”

Ledecky now owns the world records in the 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles. She’s the first woman since Janet Evans to hold all three simultaneously.

Evans held all three from 1998 to 2006.

“It’s hard not to have it on my mind, but it wasn’t in the forefront,” said Ledecky, who first met Evans last November at the Golden Goggle Awards, where she won Female Athlete of the Year. “I think that’s what played into a good swim tonight. I just didn’t let it get to me. I just wanted to relax and have fun.”

Ledecky took the 400m free world record for the first time. She first broke the 800m and 1500m free marks in winning the 2013 World Championships, then re-broke her own records in those two events in June.

She said her swim Saturday was pretty close to a perfect race.

“Just had to make sure I didn’t rush the first 100,” Ledecky said. “Right after the first 100, I could just go and race the last 300.”

Her coach, Bruce Gemmell, said there’s plenty of things she can do better.

“I don’t think there will ever be a perfect race,” he said.

The versatility — Ledecky is the current U.S. champion from 200m through 1500m — is astonishing like the records.

Bo Jackson played baseball and football,” Gemmell said. “It’s not that type of thing, but it’s a two-minute race [for 200m] and a 15-minute race [for 1500m].”

Among those impressed at Woollett Aquatics Center — Michael Phelps, who broke his first world record at 15 and won his first eight Olympic medals at 19.

“She throws it on the line, she puts it out there,” Phelps, who trains 38 miles northeast of Ledecky, said after finishing sixth in the 100m backstroke, 90 minutes after Ledecky’s final. “To be at 1:56 to your feet at the 200 [Ledecky turned at 1:57.72 at 200], that’s moving.

“It’s good seeing somebody who’s hungry, somebody who wants it like her.”

Phelps was also astonished that Ledecky could go under four minutes twice in one day, in both the prelims and finals.

“He probably forgot that when he was 17 years old, he could do the same thing,” Gemmell said.

Ledecky showed more emotion than fans are used to seeing from the Bethesda, Md., native who repairs bikes for charity in her free time. She splashed the water and threw one of her caps off.

“Pure excitement. It never gets old, to break a world record,” said Ledecky, who doesn’t have a driver’s license yet.

Ledecky, the Olympic 800m free champion and reigning Female World Swimmer of the Year, has also been improving greatly in the 200m free.

The rising high school senior won the 200m free national title in 1:55.16 on Thursday night, 1.24 seconds faster than World champion Missy Franklin.

The world record in the 200m free is also held by Pellegrini, at 1:52.98. Allison Schmitt holds the American record of 1:53.61.

Ledecky said she won’t swim her last event at the U.S. Championships, the 1500m freestyle on the final day Sunday.

She next heads to the Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia, from Aug. 21-24, the biggest international meet of the year.

How will she celebrate this world record, before flying to Australia next week?

“Do some packing,” she said, smiling. “Maybe some laundry.”

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Max Aaron retires from figure skating

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Max Aaron, a national champion and Skate America winner, has retired from competitive figure skating.

Aaron, 26, ends his career as the only Skate America men’s winner not to compete in an Olympics. He is one of three U.S. men’s champions in the last 55 years not to compete in an Olympics, along with Ryan Bradley and Rudy Galindo.

“Of course, becoming an Olympian, or having an Olympic medal would have been great to say, ride off on my white horse, but having the ability to say that I have no regrets in my entire career of figure skating, for me that is my gold medal,” Aaron said Thursday night.

Aaron, a former top USA Hockey developmental player, also figure skated growing up to help with his skating skills as one of the smaller players on his team.

He stopped playing hockey at 16 due to a broken vertebra but continued full-time with figure skating. By 2012, Aaron considered quitting figure skating after placing eighth at nationals (one year after being U.S. junior champion) and being told he wasn’t artistic enough.

But Aaron kept with it and completed a remarkable bounce back the next year, winning the U.S. title and setting himself up as a favorite to make the 2014 Olympic team.

But Aaron ended up third at the 2014 U.S. Championships. The two Sochi Olympic spots went to Jeremy Abbott and Jason Brown.

Aaron continued, becoming the first U.S. man to win Skate America in six years in 2015 and topping the short program at the 2016 U.S. Championships before ultimately finishing second to Adam Rippon.

Aaron plummeted to ninth at the 2017 U.S. Championships, coming back from offseason hernia surgery, but returned to the Olympic team radar last fall with a personal-best free skate at Cup of China, including three landed quadruple jumps. He went into the 2018 U.S. Championships ranking third among American men for the season.

But Aaron was again ninth at nationals, missing the Olympic team. He was called on to compete at last month’s world championships as the third alternate after Rippon, Ross Miner and Brown all passed.

Aaron had stopped skating and instead was training for a triathlon. He went to worlds in Milan on two weeks of training and finished 11th, a result that helped the U.S. keep three men’s spots for 2019 Worlds. Nathan Chen won the world title, but Vincent Zhou was 14th. The U.S. needed its second man to be 12th or better to go along with Chen’s first place to ensure three spots next year. Aaron reportedly said at worlds that it may have been his last competition.

Aaron said he’s started a job with Merrill Lynch.

“It’s really been a great ride. I have no regrets,” he said. “That’s one thing that I always told myself, in sport, in life, I want to have no regrets, and I can honestly say, with the help from my coaches and friends, that I have no regrets in the sport.”

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Martha, Bela Karolyi speak on Larry Nassar case (video)

Martha Karolyi, Bela Karolyi
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Former USA Gymnastics national team coordinators Martha and Bela Karolyi said they knew nothing about Larry Nassar‘s alleged abuse in an interview that airs on an hourlong NBC News “Dateline” special Sunday at 7 p.m. ET.

Star U.S. gymnasts, among more than 100 who said they were sexually abused by the convicted Nassar, said they were abused at the Karolyi’s ranch in Texas during national-team training camps.

“That’s awful, but I would say even if they have big names or they have no names, any child who was violated by Nassar, it’s a crime and it’s so sad,” Martha Karolyi told Savannah Guthrie in part of the interview that aired on TODAY on Friday.

How could the Karolyis not have known about the alleged abuses committed at their property?

“Yes, but if you couldn’t suspect anything, I heard during the testimonies that some of the parents were in therapy room with their own child and Larry Nassar was performing this — and the parent couldn’t see. How I could see?” Martha Karolyi said.

“The whole thing is just like an explosion, a bomb exploding, boom,” Bela Karolyi said.

Martha Karolyi led the national team for 15 years before retiring after the Rio Olympics. She told Guthrie that in “no way” did she suspect Nassar was sexually abusing athletes.

The Karolyis have been named as co-defendants in several civil lawsuits filed against Nassar and USA Gymnastics.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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