Katie Ledecky

Katie Ledecky breaks world record, Michael Phelps wins at Pan Pacs

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Katie Ledecky broke a world record for the fourth time this year, and Michael Phelps won his first international race since the London Olympics on Saturday.

Ledecky clocked 3 minutes, 58.37 seconds to win the 400m freestyle at the Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia. The 17-year-old rising high school senior broke her world record of 3:58.86 set at the U.S. Championships on Aug. 9.

Ledecky has broken world records in the 400m free, 800m free and 1500m free this year. She won her fourth gold medal of the meet Saturday, adding to her 200m and 800m free titles and with the 4x200m free relay.

And she’s not satisfied yet.

“I have some long-term goals,” Ledecky told reporters in Gold Coast, smiling. “We’re not quite there yet, but we’ll get there.”

Phelps, who hasn’t broken a world record since 2009, notched his biggest victory Saturday since coming out of competitive retirement in April.

He won the 100m butterfly in 51.29 seconds, relegating Ryan Lochte to second place in 51.67. Phelps is the three-time reigning Olympic 100m fly champion and owns the fastest 100m fly time in the world this year, 51.17 from the U.S. Championships two weeks ago.

“It definitely feels good to see the one next to your name, not second or losing by this or losing by that,” said Phelps, who finished fourth in the 100m free and won gold with the 4x200m free relay team earlier in the meet. “I think I’ll be able to sleep a little easier.”

Phelps and Lochte also swam in the 4x100m free relay Saturday. The U.S. took second behind Australia.

NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will have Pan Pacs coverage Saturday from 3:30-4:30 p.m. ET and Sunday from 1-2:30.

Pan Pacs are not only the biggest meet for U.S. and Australian swimmers this year, but times from Pan Pacs and the U.S. Championships will also determine the U.S. team for the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

Lochte failed to make the World Championships team in the 100m fly. As it stands, there is only one potential head to head between Phelps and Lochte slated for Worlds next year, the 200m individual medley if both come through in that event at Pan Pacs on Sunday.

In other events Saturday, Missy Franklin finished fourth in the 200m backstroke, 1.33 behind Australian winner Belinda Hocking. Franklin, the Olympic and World champion and world record holder in the event, is swimming through a bad back at Pan Pacs.

Franklin came back to swim the second leg of the 4x100m free relay as the U.S. took silver behind Australia. The Aussies, with three of the four women who broke the relay world record July 24, clocked 3:32.46. The U.S. swam 3:34.23.

Olympic champion Tyler Clary won the men’s 200m back in 1:54.91. The World champion Lochte opted not to swim it in prelims earlier, knowing he was already busy with the 100m fly and 4x100m free finals Saturday.

Beijing Olympic champion Park Tae-hwan won the men’s 400m free in 3:43.15 over Japanese star Kosuke Hagino and American Connor Jaeger. Park’s time was the fastest in the world this year.

Australian Alicia Coutts won the women’s 100m fly in 57.64. American Kendyl Stewart took bronze, her first major international medal.

Women’s 400m Freestyle
1. Katie Ledecky (USA) 3:58.37 WR
2. Cierra Runge (USA) 4:04.55
3. Lauren Boyle (NZL) 4:05.33

Men’s 400m Freestyle
1. Park Tae-hwan (KOR) 3:43.15
2. Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 3:44.56
3. Connor Jaeger (USA) 3:45.31

Women’s 100m Butterfly
1. Alicia Coutts (AUS) 57.64
2. Lu Ying (CHN) 57.76
3. Kendyl Stewart (USA) 57.82

Men’s 100m Butterfly
1. Michael Phelps (USA) 51.29
2. Ryan Lochte (USA) 51.67
3. Hirofumi Ikebata (JPN) 52.50

Women’s 200m Backstroke
1. Belinda Hocking (AUS) 2:07.49
2. Emily Seebohm (AUS) 2:07.61
3. Elizabeth Beisel (USA) 2:08.33
4. Missy Franklin (USA) 2:08.82

Men’s 200m Backstroke
1. Tyler Clary (USA) 1:54.91
2. Ryosuke Irie (JPN) 1:55.14
3. Mitchell Larkin (AUS) 1:55.27

Women’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay
1. Australia 3:32.46
2. U.S. 3:34.23
3. Japan 3:39.06

Men’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay
1. Australia 3:12.80
2. U.S. 3:13.36
3. Brazil 3:13.59

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Tommy Ford ends U.S. men’s World Cup drought at Beaver Creek

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Tommy Ford earned his first World Cup win at age 30 and ended the U.S. men’s longest victory and podium droughts in two decades.

Ford won the giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Sunday, the last North American race on tour this season. He prevailed by eight tenths of a second combining times over two runs.

“It doesn’t beat doing it here. I’ve been working hard,” Ford, in his 86th World Cup start dating to 2009, said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. “No secret, just kept it simple and really trusted what I was doing.”

Norwegians Henrik Kristoffersen and Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen were second and third. American Ted Ligety, fourth after the opening run, finished 11th.

Full results are here.

Ford became the first U.S. man to win a World Cup since Travis Ganong took a downhill on Jan. 27, 2017. He also became the first U.S. male podium finisher since Ligety in January 2018. Both were the longest droughts for the program since the late 1990s.

Ford, a 2010 and 2018 Olympian who missed the 2014 Olympics due to a broken femur, had been working toward this moment.

He finished a World Cup career-high fourth at the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 27. Last season, the Oregon native and former Dartmouth student had a pair of fifths.

The men’s World Cup moves to Val d’Isere, France, next weekend for a giant slalom and slalom.

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Katie Ledecky wins race by 30 seconds, takes back No. 1 ranking

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In her last race of the year, Katie Ledecky ensured she would finish 2019 as the world’s fastest 1500m freestyler.

Ledecky clocked 15:35.98 at the U.S. Open in Atlanta, winning the longest event on the Olympic pool program by 29.97 seconds. Typical for Ledecky, who owns the nine fastest times in history. This one came in at No. 8. Full meet results are here.

Ledecky scratched the 1500m free final at the summer world championships due to illness. Italian Simona Quadarella went on to win that title in 15:40.89, which was the world’s fastest time this year until Saturday night.

“I didn’t have time on my mind at all today. I just wanted to have a consistent swim,” Ledecky, undefeated in 1500m free finals for nine years, said on NBCSN. “That’s probably the best mile that I’ve had in a while.”

The women’s 1500m freestyle debuts at the Olympics in Tokyo. Ledecky is expected to add that to her Rio Olympic individual lineup of 200m, 400m and 800m frees, assuming she is top two in each event at the June Olympic trials.

In other events Saturday, Erika Brown handed Simone Manuel a rare defeat in the 100m freestyle. Brown, a University of Tennessee senior, clocked 53.42 and lowered her personal best by .71 between prelims and the final. Brown moved from sixth to fourth in the U.S. rankings this year, upping her stock as a contender to make the Olympic 4x100m free relay pool via a top-six finish at trials.

Brown previously lowered her personal best in the 50m free on Thursday. She ranks third in the U.S. this year in that event.

Emily Escobedo dealt Lilly King a rare domestic defeat in the 200m breaststroke. Escobedo lowered her personal best by .87 and clocked 2:22.00, moving to seventh fastest in the world this year and remaining fourth among Americans.

In the men’s 200m breast, Olympic champion Dmitriy Balandin of Kazakhstan was beaten by Cody Miller, the Olympic 100m breast silver medalist. Both were slower than their best times this year.

The next significant swim meet is a Tyr Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., from Jan. 16-19.

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