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Katie Ledecky completes 4-for-4 swim worlds with 5-peat

BUDAPEST — Katie Ledecky won all four of her events at the world swimming championships, capping it with an unprecedented fifth consecutive title in her trademark event, the 800m freestyle.

She clocked 8 minutes, 8.04 seconds, prevailing by 10.73 seconds over Australian Kiah Melverton and nodding upon seeing her time. Ledecky now has the 28 fastest times in history in the event. This one was the fifth fastest and her best since 2018.

“I thought I was a little faster that, but that’s the fastest I’ve been in a while, so I’m really thrilled with that,” she said. “Really excited about the future as well.”

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Ledecky became the first swimmer to win five consecutive world titles in an individual event. Her 19th career world gold medal broke her tie with Ryan Lochte for the second-most in history behind Michael Phelps (26).

Ledecky owns 22 career world championships medals of any color, trailing Lochte (27) and Phelps (33). She has 14 individual world titles, one shy of Phelps’ record.

Ten years ago, Ledecky won her first gold medal at age 15 at the London Olympics, in the 800m freestyle.

“I made it a goal to not be a one-hit wonder, and here we are,” Ledecky said, according to USA Swimming.

Earlier in the meet, Ledecky posted her fastest 4x200m free relay split ever, the fastest 400m free ever swum at a world championships and a 1500m free time that was 7.59 seconds faster than she went in the Tokyo Olympic final.

“Probably the most fun I’ve had a meet in a long time,” Ledecky said. “The results showed.”

In 2023, the anticipation will be for a showdown at the world championships with Australian rival Ariarne Titmus, who skipped these worlds to focus on the Commonwealth Games later this summer.

Titmus, after winning the Tokyo Olympic 200m and 400m frees, broke Ledecky’s world record in the 400m free at the Australian trials last month.

Earlier Friday, Americans Phoebe Bacon and Rhyan White took silver and bronze in the 200m backstroke. Bacon, who attended the same elementary and high schools as Ledecky, was edged for gold by Olympic champion Kaylee McKeown of Australia by four hundredths.

Michael Andrew earned 50m free silver, .09 behind Brit Ben Proud. It’s Andrew’s first world medal in an individual Olympic event.

Hungarian Kristof Milak became the third man to sweep the 100m and 200m butterflies at one worlds, joining Michael Phelps and Chad le Clos.

Milak took the 100m fly in 50.14 seconds in the absence of Olympic gold medalist Caeleb Dressel, who withdrew from the meet earlier this week on unspecified medical grounds. In Tokyo, Dressel won in a world record 49.45 seconds, and Milak was second in 49.68 to supplant Phelps as the second-fastest man in history.

“I’m not satisfied with the time as I swam exactly the same time as in the semis,” Milak said, according to FINA. “But I won the gold and that’s the most important now.”

Swede Sarah Sjostrom four-peated in the 50m butterfly for her 18th individual world medal, moving two shy of Phelps’ record. Sjostrom, 28, can win a 19th in the 50m free on Saturday.

Australia won the mixed-gender 4x100m freestyle relay, which is not on the Olympic program, in a world record. The U.S. earned bronze.

Worlds wrap up Sunday. With two medals, the U.S. will break the record for most medals by one nation at a single worlds.

*Correction: An earlier version of this post stated Ledecky had the 27 fastest 800m free times in history. She has the 28 fastest.

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