Katie Ledecky took her first step toward a possible record-tying six gold medals at one world championships, easily winning the 400m freestyle in Budapest on Sunday.
Ledecky clocked 3:58.34, the second-fastest time ever, to win by 3.2 seconds over countrywoman Leah Smith. China’s Li Bingjie earned the bronze. Ledecky holds the nine fastest times ever.
Ledecky, the quadruple Rio Olympic champion, won her third straight world title in the 400m free and 10th world title overall. She later swims the 4x100m free relay on Sunday, then four more events later this week.
Missy Franklin holds the female record of six golds from one worlds in 2013. Michael Phelps won seven golds at the 2007 Worlds.
In other races Sunday, China’s Sun Yang won his third straight world 400m freestyle title, whooping Australian rival and Rio gold medalist Mack Horton by 2.47 seconds.
Sun, 25, bagged his eighth individual world title, trailing only Ryan Lochte (10) and Michael Phelps (15) on the all-time list.
In semifinals, Olympic champion and world-record holder Sarah Sjostrom was the top qualifier into Monday’s 100m butterfly final. While Sjostrom is the heavy favorite, U.S. Olympian Kelsi Worrell qualified third into the final as she seeks a first individual major international meet medal.
Kevin Cordes broke his month-old American record in the 100m breaststroke semifinals with a 58.64. Olympic champion Adam Peaty was the fastest qualifier into Monday’s final in 57.75, followed by Cordes and Olympic bronze medalist Cody Miller (59.08).
Caeleb Dressel broke the American record in the 50m butterfly semifinals, a non-Olympic event. Dressel took .15 off the old record by clocking 22.76 as the fastest qualifier into Monday’s final.
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