Katie Ledecky breaks female record for most swimming worlds medals

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BUDAPEST — Katie Ledecky decided last fall to drop the individual 200m freestyle from her program, at least for one year. In a recent interview, she added one line to the end of her explanation about focusing on longer events in 2022.

“I still feel confident in my 200m free and my ability to step up on that relay,” said Ledecky, who swam the 200m free from 2014 through 2021.

As usual, Ledecky backed that up in the pool.

The greatest distance swimmer in history posted the third-fastest 4x200m free relay split in history, and the fastest of her career, as the U.S. quartet took gold on Wednesday.

Claire WeinsteinLeah Smith, Ledecky and Bella Sims clocked a championship record 7 minutes, 41.45 seconds to distance rival Australia by 2.41 seconds. The U.S. took silver in the event at the previous Olympics and worlds.

“It’s so easy to get up for these relays and just not think and go,” Ledecky said. “I had so much trust in these three. I think we’re always counted out, and we always deliver.”

SWIMMING WORLDS: TV Schedule | Results | U.S. Roster

Ledecky earned her 21st career world swimming championships medal, breaking her tie with Natalie Coughlin for the most by a woman in worlds history. Two men have more medals: Michael Phelps (33) and Ryan Lochte (27).

She also tied Lochte for the second-most gold medals (18), trailing only Phelps (26). Ledecky has one more event this week, her trademark 800m free, and then two more world championships before the 2024 Paris Olympics to chase Phelps. She has said she may try to swim through the 2028 Los Angeles Games, which would put Phelps’ records in real jeopardy.

Ledecky’s split on Wednesday was 1:53.67, trailing only Federica Pellegrini‘s 1:53.45 from the 2009 World Championships, where records fell everywhere due to since-banned high-tech swimsuits. And Sarah Sjostrom‘s 1:53.64 from the 2014 European Championships.

In Tokyo, Ledecky was fifth in the individual 200m free on the same night she had the final in the 1500m free, which she won. Two days later, she had the fastest split of the 32 swimmers in the 4x200m free relay final, 1:53.76.

Ledecky said before worlds that re-adding the 200m free “would be more on the table” if the to-be-announced 2024 Olympic swimming schedule, with one more day of swimming than in 2021, puts more time between the women’s 200m and 1500m frees. The men’s 200m and 1500m frees have traditionally been on different days.

Also Wednesday, 15-year-old Canadian Summer McIntosh became the youngest individual world championships gold medalist since 2011 (Ye Shiwen), taking the 200m butterfly in a world junior record 2:05.20. American Hali Flickinger earned silver, just as she did at the 2019 Worlds.

(Weinstein, a younger 15 than McIntosh, became the youngest world champion since 2007 with her relay gold, according to Bill Mallon of Olympedia.org.)

Romanian 17-year-old David Popovici became the first swimmer to sweep the 100m and 200m frees at a worlds since the very first edition in 1973. Popovici won the 100m in 47.58, edging Frenchman Maxime Grousset by six hundredths.

“I’m a bit prouder of the 200m win,” said Popovici, the Chlorine Daddy who went faster in the 100m free semis with a world junior record 47.13. “You know, my neck is quite heavy because of the medals – so I need to strengthen that part for the next meets.”

The race lacked reigning Olympic and world champion Caeleb Dressel, who withdrew from the meet a day after scratching the 100m free semis on unspecified medical grounds.

French 20-year-old Leon Marchand completed a sweep of the individual medleys, taking the 200m by .49 over American Carson Foster, who also bagged silver in the 400m IM. Marchand competes at Arizona State under Bob Bowman, the longtime coach of Michael Phelps.

American Katharine Berkoff earned silver in the 50m backstroke, eight hundredths behind Canadian Kylie Masse.

Worlds continue Thursday with finals in the men’s 200m back (Ryan Murphy, Shaine Casas), 200m breaststroke (Nic Fink) and 4x200m free relay and the women’s 100m free (Claire Curzan, Torri Huske) and 200m breast (Lilly King, Kate Douglass).

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Joel Embiid gains U.S. citizenship, mum on Olympic nationality

Joel Embiid
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Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid said he is now a U.S. citizen and it’s way too early to think about what nation he would represent at the Olympics.

“I just want to be healthy and win a championship and go from there,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Embiid, 28, was born in Cameroon and has never competed in a major international tournament. In July, he gained French nationality, a step toward being able to represent that nation at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In the spring, French media reported that Embiid started the process to become eligible to represent France in international basketball, quoting national team general manager Boris Diaw.

Embiid was second in NBA MVP voting this season behind Serbian Nikola Jokic. He was the All-NBA second team center.

What nation Embiid represents could have a major impact on the Paris Games.

In Tokyo, a French team led by another center, Rudy Gobert, handed the U.S. its first Olympic defeat since 2004. That was in group play. The Americans then beat the French in the gold-medal game 87-82.

That France team had five NBA players to the U.S.’ 12: Nicolas BatumEvan FournierTimothe Luwawu-CabarrotFrank Ntilikina and Gobert.

Anthony Davis, who skipped the Tokyo Olympics, is the lone U.S. center to make an All-NBA team in the last five seasons. In that time, Embiid made four All-NBA second teams and Gobert made three All-NBA third teams.

No Olympic team other than the U.S. has ever had two reigning All-NBA players on its roster.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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LA 2028, Delta unveil first-of-its-kind emblems for Olympics, Paralympics

Delta LA 2028
LA 2028
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Emblems for the 2028 Los Angeles Games that include logos of Delta Air Lines is the first integration of its kind in Olympic and Paralympic history.

Organizers released the latest set of emblems for the LA 2028 Olympics and Paralympics on Thursday, each with a Delta symbol occupying the “A” spot in LA 28.

Two years ago, the LA 2028 logo concept was unveiled with an ever-changing “A” that allowed for infinite possibilities. Many athletes already created their own logos, as has NBC.

“You can make your own,” LA28 chairperson Casey Wasserman said in 2020. “There’s not one way to represent Los Angeles, and there is strength in our diverse cultures. We have to represent the creativity and imagination of Los Angeles, the diversity of our community and the big dreams the Olympic and Paralympic Games provide.”

Also in 2020, Delta was announced as LA 2028’s inaugural founding partner. Becoming the first partner to have an integrated LA 2028 emblem was “extremely important for us,” said Emmakate Young, Delta’s managing director, brand marketing and sponsorships.

“It is a symbol of our partnership with LA, our commitment to the people there, as well as those who come through LA, and a commitment to the Olympics,” she said.

The ever-changing emblem succeeds an angelic bid logo unveiled in February 2016 when the city was going for the 2024 Games, along with the slogan, “Follow the Sun.” In July 2017, the IOC made a historic double awarding of the Olympics and Paralympics — to Paris for 2024 and Los Angeles for 2028.

The U.S. will host its first Olympics and Paralympics since 2002 (and first Summer Games since 1996), ending its longest drought between hosting the Games since the 28-year gap between 1932 and 1960.

Delta began an eight-year Olympic partnership in 2021, becoming the official airline of Team USA and the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Athletes flew to this year’s Winter Games in Beijing on chartered Delta flights and will do so for every Games through at least 2028.

Previously, Delta sponsored the last two Olympics held in the U.S. — the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

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