Katie Ledecky swims her fastest 400m freestyle in years, while rival recovers


Katie Ledecky had her second sizzling swim in as many days, scorching her fastest 400m freestyle since August 2018 at a Pro Series meet in Mission Viejo, California, on Saturday.

Ledecky, the Olympic champion and world-record holder, clocked 3:59.25, her fastest time in a meet this early in a year ever. A woman has broken four minutes in the 400m free a total of 25 instances in history. Ledecky was that woman on 20 of those occasions.

“That one didn’t feel as good as some of my other swims this week,” Ledecky said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, “but I’m happy with the time.”

Ledecky had an even more impressive 200m free on Friday, clocking her second-fastest time ever in that event. She has the 100m and 1500m frees on the final day of the meet Sunday (1 p.m., Olympic Channel). Meet results are here.

The 400m is the meeting place for Ledecky and her new rival, 20-year-old Australian Ariarne Titmus.

Titmus won the 2019 World title in 3:58.76 to become the second-fastest woman in history (though slower than Ledecky’s seven best times). Ledecky took silver in that race, 1.21 seconds behind, while dealing with a stomach virus that led her to withdraw from races two days later.

Titmus recently missed three months of training due to a shoulder injury, according to an Australian report on Saturday.

In other events Saturday, Brazilian veteran Bruno Fratus edged world champion Caeleb Dressel by .03 in the men’s 50m freestyle, clocking 21.80 in an Olympic selection meet for Brazil. Dressel posted the fastest time by an American this year.

Lilly King won an Olympic Trials preview in the women’s 200m breaststroke, recording 2:22.38 to hold off training partner Annie Lazor by .35. Lazor is the fastest American since the start of 2019 (2:20.77), while King is the fastest this year. The final also included the third-, fourth- and fifth-fastest Americans since the start of 2019.

Like King, Nic Fink completed a sweep of the breaststrokes in Mission Viejo, taking the men’s 200m breast in 2:09.73. It’s the fastest time by an American this year, but Fink, a 27-year-old seeking his first Olympics, still ranks third among Americans since the start of 2019. Will Licon (not in Mission Viejo) and Andrew Wilson (third on Saturday) are the top two.

Olympic champion and world-record holder Ryan Murphy took the men’s 100m backstroke in 53.11 seconds, bouncing from one side of his lane to the other and knocking the line near the finish. Murphy swam the fastest time by an American this year. Matt Grevers, the 36-year-old, 2012 Olympic champ, was eighth in 55.40 in his first Pro Series meet in 13 months.

World bronze medalist Olivia Smoliga overtook former world-record holder Kathleen Baker to win the women’s 100m back in 59.04 seconds, the fastest time by an American this year. The women’s 100m back is one of the U.S.’ deepest events. Regan Smith, who owns the world record of 57.57, is not in Mission Viejo.

World silver medalist Hali Flickinger swam the fastest 200m butterfly of an American woman in 2021 — 2:06.68 — in Friday night’s preliminary heats. She then scratched the final, won by Katie Crom in 2:10.38, to focus on the 400m free.

Rio Olympian Abbey Weitzeil won the women’s 50m free in 24.57, the fastest time by an American this year, against a field lacking Simone Manuel. Manuel, the world champion, remains the fastest American since the start of 2019 (24.05), ahead of Weitzeil (24.47).

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Aksel Lund Svindal, Olympic Alpine champ, has testicular cancer, ‘prognosis good’

Aksel Lund Svindal

Aksel Lund Svindal, a retired Olympic Alpine skiing champion from Norway, said he underwent surgery for testicular cancer and the prognosis “looked very good.”

“Tests, scans and surgery all happened very quickly,” Svindal, 39, wrote on social media. “And already after the first week I knew the prognoses looked very good. All thanks to that first decision to go see a doctor as soon as I suspected something was off.”

Svindal retired in 2019 after winning the Olympic super-G in 2010 and downhill in 2018. He also won five world titles among the downhill, combined and giant slalom and two World Cup overall titles.

Svindal said he felt a change in his body that prompted him to see a doctor.

“The last few weeks have been different,” he wrote. “But I’m able to say weeks and not months because of great medical help, a little luck and a good decision.

“I wasn’t sure what it was, or if it was anything at all. … [I] was quickly transferred to the hospital where they confirmed what the doctor suspected. Testicle cancer.”

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup

The U.S. goes for its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headline a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, includes neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team includes nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 52 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The field also includes host Australia, the U.S.’ former primary rival, and Olympic silver medalist Japan.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), isn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France vs. Mali Group B
4 a.m. Australia vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada vs. Japan Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
11:30 p.m. Mali vs. Serbia Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA vs. South Korea Group A
2 a.m. France vs. Japan Group B
3:30 a.m. China vs. Puerto Rico Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Canada Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico vs. South Korea Group A
11:30 p.m. Belgium vs. China Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
2 a.m. Canada vs. Mali Group B
3:30 a.m. France vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Japan Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. Quarterfinal
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
4 a.m. Quarterfinal
6:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
Fri., Sept. 30 3 .m. Semifinal
5:30 a.m. Semifinal
11 p.m. Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. Final