Katie Ledecky breaks 1500m freestyle world record again

Katie Ledecky
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Katie Ledecky swam what she called “a relaxed” world record in the otherwise grueling 1500m freestyle preliminaries at the World Swimming Championships in Kazan, Russia, on Monday.

The recent high school graduate without a driver’s license clocked 15:27.71 to break her record from 2014 by .65 of a second.

“To be honest, it did feel pretty easy,” Ledecky told media in Kazan. “I wasn’t kicking much. I think breaking that record is just a testament to the work I’ve put in and the shape that I’m in right now that I was able to do that. I’m in quite a bit of shock.”

Ledecky’s time was 26.52 seconds faster than anyone else in the 1500m free prelims, which is not surprising. She is an overwhelming favorite to repeat as World champion in the event Tuesday night, even though she also swims the 200m free semifinals about 25 minutes after the 1500m final.

She is scheduled for four individual events at Worlds and could become the first woman to win four individual titles at a single Worlds. Ledecky started with a 400m freestyle gold Sunday.

How does she feel on a scale of 1 to 10?

“Eleven,” she said. “It’s probably one of the coolest world records I’ve broken.”

Ledecky defers Stanford until after 2016 Olympics

Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch

Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

Kyle Smaine

Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”