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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Faith Kipyegon smashes women’s 1500m world record in Florence

Faith Kipyegon

Kenyan Faith Kipyegon smashed the women’s 1500m world record, clocking 3 minutes, 49.11 seconds at a Diamond League meet in Florence, Italy, on Friday.

Kipyegon, a two-time Olympic champion and two-time world champion, took 96 hundredths of a second off Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba‘s world record from 2015. Kipyegon began the day as the second-fastest woman in history at 3:50.37.

The 29-year-old was already the most decorated female miler in history, the only one with four global 1500m titles. Her Olympic gold medals in 2016 and 2021 were separated by a 22-month maternity leave from competition (that included 12 months without running).

Kipyegon was the eighth of nine children growing on a farm in the Kenyan Rift Valley. She was a soccer player at age 14 when she lined up for a one-kilometer run in PE class, according to World Athletics.

“I won that race by 20 meters,” Kipyegon said, according to World Athletics in 2016. “It is only then I knew I could run fast and be a good athlete.”

In 2010, a barefooted Kipyegon placed fourth in the world cross country championships junior race as, at age 16, the youngest finisher in the top 21. The next year, she won it. The year after that, she made her Olympic debut at age 18. By 2015, Jenny Simpson, arguably the best American miler in history, had a nickname for her: “The Sniper,” for her ability to run people down in the final lap.

After the pacers dropped out, Kipyegon ran the last lap on Friday in 58.87 seconds.

Next year, Kipyegon can become the second person to win the same individual Olympic track race three times, joining Usain Bolt. She said last year that she may shift to the 5000m after the 2024 Paris Games, according to Olympics.com.

Also in Florence, world champion Fred Kerley extended a year-plus win streak in the men’s 100m, prevailing in 9.94 seconds over Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala (10.04) and American Trayvon Bromell (10.09).

Full meet results are here.

Earlier, Dutchwoman Femke Bol won the 400m hurdles in 52.43 seconds, the fastest time ever recorded this early in a year. Bol, the Olympic bronze medalist and world silver medalist, is the world’s fastest this year by eight tenths of a second. World record holder Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone has yet to race this outdoor season and could bypass the 400m hurdles entirely for the flat 400m.

Erriyon Knighton, a 19-year-old American, took the 200m in 19.89 seconds to rank third in the world this year. Knighton may be the favorite at July’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships given Noah Lyles, who won the 2022 World title in an American record 19.31, has a bye into August’s worlds as defending champion.

World champion Grant Holloway won the 110m hurdles in 13.04 seconds. Holloway, the world’s fastest man this year at 13.01, outsprinted Devon Allen, the world’s fastest man in 2022, in two Diamond League head-to-heads this week.

Spain’s Mohamed Katir won the 5000m in 12:52.09, edging Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha by three hundredths. Woody Kincaid (12:54.40) and Joe Klecker (12:55.16) ran personal bests to move into Nos. 3 and 4 on the U.S. all-time list behind Grant Fisher and Bernard Lagat.

Olympic champion Valarie Allman won the discus in her first matchup with China’s Feng Bin since Feng won the world title last July. Allman, who has the world’s top nine throws this year, prevailed with a 65.96-meter toss, five centimeters farther than Feng.

Olympic and world champion Katie Moon won a pole vault that included the top five women from last August’s worlds. Moon cleared 4.71 meters and has the world’s top clearance this season of 4.81.

American JuVaughn Harrison earned his second Diamond League high jump win this season by clearing 2.32 meters, just as he did in Doha last month.

Italian Larissa Iapichino was the surprise long jump winner, going 6.79 meters. She beat a field that included Olympic and world champion Malaika Mihambo of Germany, who was fifth. Jamaican Ackelia Smith, a University of Texas sophomore, remains best in the world this year at 7.08 meters.

The Diamond League season continues with a meet in Paris next Friday, live on Peacock. McLaughlin-Levrone is scheduled to make her outdoor season debut in the flat 400m, an event she is also expected to contest at July’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships. If McLaughlin-Levrone finishes in the top three at USATF Outdoors, she will choose either the 400m or the 400m hurdles to race at August’s world championships, her coach said last month.

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2023 French Open women’s singles draw, scores

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At the French Open, Iga Swiatek of Poland eyes a third title at Roland Garros and a fourth Grand Slam singles crown overall.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Swiatek, the No. 1 seed from Poland, can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

Having turned 22 on Wednesday, she can become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Men’s Draw

But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula, the highest-seeded American man or woman, was eliminated in the third round.

No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, is the best hope to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Women’s Singles Draw

French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw