U.S. finishes swimming worlds with most medals in history

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BUDAPEST — The U.S. shattered the record for world swimming championships medals, winning eight more on the final day to finish with 45.

It held the previous record of 38 from 2017.

The U.S. closed out competition Saturday with gold in the men’s 50m backstroke (Justin Ress, who was disqualified, then had it overturned on appeal) and the women’s 4x100m medley relay.

“We have crushed it this whole week,” said Regan Smith, who led off the relay and also won the individual 100m back earlier in the meet. “We’ve had such good energy. This team is really special. It’s like no other team I’ve ever been on.”

Hunter Armstrong added silver in the 50m back, and the men’s medley relay also got silver.

Katie Grimes and Emma Weyant went silver-bronze in the 400m individual medley won by 15-year-old Canadian Summer McIntosh.

Bobby Finke earned silver in the 1500m free (in an American record time) behind Italian Gregorio Paltrinieri, who posted the second-fastest time in history.

Erika Brown tied for bronze in the 50m free for her first individual medal at a global championships after nine relay medals. Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom won the splash and dash for her 19th career individual world champs medal, one shy of Michael Phelps‘ record.

Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte won her first world title in nine years, taking the 50m breast. Meilutyte was the shock 2012 Olympic 100m breast champion at age 15, then briefly retired in 2019.

SWIMMING WORLDS: Results

The Americans, who topped the total medal standings at every Olympics and worlds since the end of the dubious East German reign in 1988, were expected to dominate this week.

Russians were banned due to the war in Ukraine. Some top swimmers from Australia, Canada and South Africa sat out or limited their schedules ahead of their quadrennial Commonwealth Games later this summer. Other stars missed out due to injury or COVID.

The Americans were led once again by Katie Ledecky, who swept her four events (in the absence of Australian rival Ariarne Titmus) and finished on Friday. Caeleb Dressel won two golds, then withdrew from the meet due to unspecified medical reasons.

Past champions returned to the top of the podium, such as Lilly King, Ryan Murphy and Regan Smith. Young talent climbed, such as Torri Huske, Alex Walsh, Grimes, Carson Foster, Michael Andrew, Phoebe Bacon and Leah Hayes.

The biggest breakouts were international.

Léon Marchand, a 20-year-old Frenchman who competes for Arizona State under Michael Phelps‘ longtime coach Bob Bowman, swept the men’s individual medleys. David Popovici, a 17-year-old Romanian, swept the 100m and 200m frees.

McIntosh, who had a pair of fourth-place Tokyo Olympic finishes at age 14, won the 200m fly and 400m IM and took second to Ledecky in the 400m free this week.

Hungarian Kristof Milak was the face of the meet, breaking his 200m butterfly world record and adding the 100m fly title in the absence of Dressel, the Olympic gold medalist and world record holder. Between Popovici and Milak, Dressel has major challengers in two of his three individual Olympic title events.

The most anticipated showdowns in the sport — Ledecky vs. Titmus, Dressel vs. Milak and Popovici, even Huske against Australian Emma McKeon in the 100m fly — did not take place here.

They must wait until, likely, next July’s world championships in Fukuoka, Japan, which will determine the early favorites for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde
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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It’s been a tough week,” Kilde said after the race. “I caught the flu in Lake Louise after a very, very nice weekend. It really hit me hard. Then I got a couple of days to rest and take it easy. … I felt OK. Still feeling it a little bit in my system.”

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

ALPINE SKIING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

“I found a really, really good set-up with my equipment and also with my skiing,” Kilde explained. “I believe in myself. I trust in myself. I have a good game plan. When I stand on the start, I don’t dwell on anything. I know that this plan is what I do and when I do that it’s going to be fast.”

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. He was ninth in the downhill in Lake Louise.

“It’s been solid,” Cochran-Siegle said of his strides in the discipline. “A couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three. You have to ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon, in a sense. Today was a good step.”

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

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Summer McIntosh, Canadian teen swimmer, caps record year with another historic time

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Summer McIntosh swam the fourth-fastest 400m individual medley in history on Friday, capping a year that already included world titles, Commonwealth Games titles and a victory over Katie Ledecky.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old Canadian whose mom swam at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, won the 400m IM in 4 minutes, 28.61 seconds at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C. She prevailed by a Ledecky-like 13.24 seconds, breaking her own national record that was previously the fourth-fastest time in history.

“It’s still pretty early in the season, so I didn’t really know what to expect going into it,” she said on Peacock.

The only two women who ever went faster in the event known as the decathlon of swimming are Olympic gold medalists: Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (world record 4:26.36 and 4:28.58) and China’s Ye Shiwen (4:28.43).

McIntosh has come a long way in a short time. Three years ago, she put all her eggs in the 1500m freestyle basket, thinking it was her best shot to merely qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020. The one-year Olympic postponement was a blessing.

The rapidly improving McIntosh swam three individual events in Tokyo with a top finish of fourth in the 400m free, just missing becoming the youngest swimming medalist since 1996. She then told her coach she wanted to become an IMer.

At this past June’s world championships, McIntosh won two of the most grueling events — 400m IM and 200m butterfly — to become the youngest individual world champion since 2011. She also took silver to Ledecky in the 400m free, an event in which she later beat Ledecky in a short-course meet (25-meter pool rather than the 50-meter pool used for the Olympics).

A month after worlds, McIntosh swept the IMs at the Commonwealth Games, where she broke more world junior records and again took second in the 400m free (this time to Olympic champ and world record holder Ariarne Titmus of Australia).

McIntosh, who turned professional last year, now trains full-time in Sarasota, Florida, where she rents a house with her mom, Jill Horstead, who was ninth in the 200m fly at the 1984 Olympics (McIntosh, whose passions include the Kardashians and plants from Target, has seen video of her mom winning the B final at those Games). They’re a three-hour drive down Interstate 75 from Ledecky’s base in Gainesville.

Also Friday, Erin Gemmell celebrated her 18th birthday by nearly becoming the first American to beat Ledecky in a 200m freestyle in nearly nine years. Ledecky won by 42 hundredths of a second in 1:56.74 and said she had an off-day while also praising Gemmell, the daughter of her former coach.

NBC airs U.S. Open highlights on Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

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