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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Yevgenia Medvedeva wins season opener in rout

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Olympic figure skating favorite Yevgenia Medvedeva, imperfect by her standards, still won her first international competition of the season by a whopping 36.74 points on Saturday.

The Russian tallied 146.72 points in her free skate at Nepela Trophy in Slovakia — lower than her median score over her two-year winning streak — and 226.72 points overall. 

Video is here. Full scores are here.

Medvedeva had a wrong edge call on her triple Lutz, stepping out of the landing. 

Judges gave her a negative grade of execution for it, snapping a streak of more than 60 straight jumps with positive grades dating to December.

No matter, the 17-year-old still had the highest free skate by 23.23 points.

It was 13.72 points shy of her world record set at the last competition of the 2016-17 season.

She distanced Japanese Rika Hongo and countrywoman Yelena Radionova, the only woman to beat Medvedeva in senior international competition in November 2015.

Medvedeva entered the free skate with a 13.51-point lead in the low-level event. That was via recording the second-highest short program tally under a 13-year-old judging system on Thursday.

Her flawed free skate still earned more points than any of her rivals racked up last season. 

All of her jumps except a double Axel were in the second half of her program to earn bonus points.

However, another Russian posted a higher free skate score last week.

That’s 15-year-old training partner Alina Zagitova, who was .45 better at a low-level event in Italy. 

It’s not entirely fair to compare scores from different judging panels at these early season competitions, though.

The first of six Grand Prix series events is Rostelecom Cup in Moscow in four weeks, featuring Medvedeva and Radionova.

Medvedeva and Zagitova could go head-to-head at the Grand Prix Final in December and should definitely both be at the Russian Championships later that month.

The figure skating season continues next week with Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, the final Olympic qualifying competition. 

North Korea could clinch its first spots in any sport for the Olympics in the pairs event.

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VIDEO: Nathan Chen makes more history at season opener

Yuzuru Hanyu opens Olympic season with record score

Yuzuru Hanyu
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A sore knee didn’t hold Yuzuru Hanyu back. A record score to open his Olympic season.

The Olympic and world champion from Japan hit a pair of quadruple jumps in his short program at the Autumn Classic, a lower-level event in Montreal.

He was rewarded with 112.72 points, the highest short program score recorded under the 13-year-old judging system. Video is here.

It looked like a home competition for Hanyu.

Upon finishing, he bowed toward one set of bleachers (maybe a dozen rows) at the Sportsplexe Pierrefonds. More than two dozen Japanese flags made it hard to see most of the faces.

He bettered Javier Fernández, a two-time world champion and training partner, by 11.52 points. Fernández also landed two quadruple jumps to tally 101.2.

Full scores will be here upon the conclusion of the short program. The free skate is Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. A live stream is here.

Hanyu now owns the three highest short program scores under the 13-year-old system. The other two were set in the 2015-16 season.

Showdowns like Hanyu-Fernández are usually reserved for, at the earliest, the Grand Prix series in late October and November.

Hanyu and Fernández are very familiar with each other, having shared a coach in Canadian Brian Orser, the 1988 Olympic silver medalist, since 2012. They train in Toronto.

In that time, Hanyu became the first Japanese man to win an Olympic title (and the second teen from any nation to do it). He followed it up with world titles later in 2014 and this year.

Fernández achieved unfathomable success for a Spanish skater — world titles in 2015 and 2016, overtaking Hanyu in the free skate both times.

In PyeongChang, Hanyu can become the first man to repeat as Olympic champion since Dick Button in 1952. Fernández can become the third Spaniard to earn a Winter Olympic medal of any color in any sport, and the first since 1992.

The figure skating season continues next week with Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, the final Olympic qualifying competition. North Korea could clinch its first spots in any sport for the Olympics in the pairs event.

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