Katie Ledecky

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.”

Coughlin faces do or die in splash and dash

Martina Hingis loses another Olympic doubles partner

Martina Hingis, Belinda Bencic
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Martina Hingis‘ Olympic return is off to a rough start, and the Games are still nine days away.

Hingis, the five-time Grand Slam singles champion who is set to go 20 years between Olympic appearances, has lost her slated doubles and mixed doubles partners on consecutive days. Hingis is not playing singles in Rio.

Belinda Bencic became the fourth female tennis player ranked in the top 20, and the second Swiss player of either gender in as many days, to withdraw from the Olympics on Wednesday.

Bencic, a 19-year-old ranked No. 16, is behind in training following a wrist injury suffered at Wimbledon last month, according to her social media.

On Tuesday, Roger Federer withdrew from the Olympics, citing a knee injury.

Whether Hingis will play with another partner hasn’t been announced.

Women’s top 20 players out of the Olympics
No. 5 Simona Halep (Zika concern)
No. 7 Victoria Azarenka (Pregnancy)
No. 17 Karolina Pliskova (Zika concern)

MORE: Complete U.S. Olympic team roster

Bubba Watson, U.S. golfers get pep talk from Olympic legend Dan Jansen

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The world’s best golfers are in Springfield, N.J., this week for the season’s final major, the PGA Championship, which was pushed up a couple weeks to accommodate golf’s return to the Olympics.

The four men set to represent the U.S. – Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed and Matt Kuchar – attended an Olympic meeting, where they were able to try on their Team USA gear and speak with an Olympic legend, speed skater Dan Jansen. Watson left inspired.

“He’s a legend; he’s a legend for America,” Watson said. “Some of the things that he battled, he talked about what he battled. Not just winning. Who cares about winning a medal. Just what he battled trying to get there, what he battled in family life and things like that. It was pretty amazing to hear his stories and how he came through it.”

Jansen won a 1,000m speed skating gold medal at the 1994 Lillehammer Games, the shining moment in a career that had previously been defined by disappointment. He finished fourth in the 500m in 1984, and fell in both the 500m and 1,000m in 1988. Those mishaps came after he learned of the death of his sister, Jane, who died of leukemia the morning of the 500m final.

He just missed a medal again with a fourth-place result in the 500m in 1992, where he finished 26th in the 1,000m. Two years later, after the Winter Games shifted to be in even years not coinciding with the Summer Games, Jansen placed eighth in the 500m. But in the final event of his Olympic career, he set a 1,000m world record en route to his first and only Olympic medal.

You can see more of Jansen’s story here.

Jansen acknowledged that the golfers didn’t grow up dreaming about playing golf in the Olympics since it wasn’t in the program until recently. But now that they’re going, they’re representing their country just like everyone else on Team USA.

“All four of us are pretty passionate about it,” Watson said. “Any time you can play and represent your country to that level; obviously we represent our country this week, but to that level, a higher level, it’s pretty special.”

Watson reiterated his stance on having no reservations about going to the Rio Games, while the top four golfers in the world, and many others, pulled out, mostly due to concerns over the Zika virus.

“I mean, if they would have asked me to be the towel boy, I would have went to the Olympics. But again, my situation is different than everybody else’s. I can’t have kids. We adopted our kids and I’m not fearful of crime or anything like that. So there was no fear at all. It was a go,” he said.

The U.S. golfers are getting their custom USA gear ready:

MORE: Bubba Watson gets a jetpack to fly around the golf course