Katie Ledecky wins world championship rematch, shaves three seconds off U.S. record

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Seven weeks after losing the 400m freestyle while feeling the effects of an ill-timed illness at the swimming world championships, Katie Ledecky took a measure of revenge Sunday in the debut meet of the International Swimming League, finishing in a U.S. record 3:54.06, 3.55 seconds ahead of world champion Ariarne Titmus of Australia.

The ISL, unlike the world championships and traditional international meets, uses the short-course lap distance of 25 meters. Ledecky rarely swims at that distance — her college meets were measured in yards rather than meters — and she took advantage of the rare opportunity to smash the U.S. record of 3:57.07, set by Katie Hoff at the 2010 short-course world championships. Ledecky finished in 3:54.06.

Ledecky also came close to the world record of 3:53.92, which Titmus set in last year’s short-course world championships. But while USA Swimming will recognize times from the ISL, international organizer FINA will not. FINA does not sanction the ISL and threatened to ban swimmers who participated before relenting under legal pressure.

“I think all times should count if we are following all the rules, which we are,” Ledecky said. “That is the way it should be.”

The ISL is a team-based competition in which swimmers are split not by national team but assigned to teams nominally representing four cities in the United States and four in Europe, though most of the meets will not take place in any of those cities. The debut meet took place in Indianapolis, which does not have a representative team in the league, and the final will be in Las Vegas in December.

The ISL’s debut season got more eventful Monday, SwimSwam reported, as the swimmers’ plane to Naples, Italy, was diverted to Rome due to turbulence.

Ledecky, along with 2016 bronze medalist breaststroke specialist Cody Miller and three-time Olympic champion Natalie Coughlin, swims for the DC Trident, which finished third out of four teams in the debut meet. Energy Standard Istanbul, led by multiple-event winners Chad le Clos, Sarah Sjostrom and Florent Manaudou, won the team title.

Lilly King helped the Cali Condors take second place overall by sweeping the three breaststroke events.

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2022 Ironman Kona World Championships results

Ironman Kona World Championships
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2022 Ironman Kona World Championship top-10 results and notables (full, searchable pro and age group results are here) …

Pro Women
1. Chelsea Sodaro (USA) — 8:33:46
2. Lucy Charles-Barclay (GBR) — 8:41:37
3. Anne Haug (GER) — 8:42:22
4. Laura Philipp (GER) — 8:50:31
5. Lisa Norden (SWE) — 8:54:43
6. Fenella Langridge (GBR) — 8:56:26
7. Sarah Crowley (AUS) — 9:01:58
8. Daniela Ryf (SUI) — 9:02:26
9. Skye Moench (USA) — 9:04:31
10. Laura Siddall (GBR) — 9:07:49
16. Heather Jackson (USA) — 9:22:17
DNF. Sarah True (USA)

Pro Men
Race is on Saturday, live on Peacock at 12 p.m. ET.

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Chelsea Sodaro wins Ironman Kona World Championship, ends American drought

Chelsea Sodaro
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Chelsea Sodaro was the surprise winner of the Ironman Kona World Championships women’s race, ending the longest American victory drought in the event’s 44-year history.

Sodaro, a 33-year-old mom to an 18-month-old, prevailed in an unofficial 8 hours, 33 minutes, 46 seconds on Hawaii’s Big Island.

“My mind is a little bit blown right now,” she said in a finish area interview 25 minutes later, standing next to her daughter, Skylar. “This is the culmination of things being right in my life and having perspective. … This is freakin’ incredible, but the greatest gift at the end of the finish line is my little 18-month-old.”

Sodaro was in fifth place after the 2.6-mile swim and 112-mile bike, then recorded one of the fastest 26.2-mile marathon runs in event history (2:51:45) to win by 7 minutes, 50 seconds over Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay.

Swiss Daniela Ryf, who was eyeing her sixth Ironman world title, led after the bike but faded quickly on the run.

MORE: Ironman Kona Race Results

Sodaro, whose lone previous full Ironman was a second-place finish at June’s European Championships (reportedly in the second-fastest Ironman distance debut in history), became the first American to win in Kona since Tim DeBoom in 2002 and the first American to win the women’s race since Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser in 1996.

She is the first woman or man to win in their Kona debut since Brit Chrissie Wellington took the first of her four titles in 2007.

Sodaro (née Reilly) was an All-America runner at Cal, then placed 19th in the 10,000m at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.

She turned to triathlon in 2017, made podiums on the World Cup circuit (just below the top-level World Series for Olympic hopefuls) and moved up to long-distance racing in 2018.

At the half Ironman distance, she was fourth at the 2019 World Championships, her last major championship start before the pandemic, pregnancy, childbirth and a move up to the full Ironman this year.

“I’m pretty stoked that I think I maybe get to take the rest of the year off and be a mom for a month or so,” Sodaro said.

The pro men’s race is Saturday, live on Peacock at 12 p.m. ET.

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