Katie Ledecky wins in personal best time at U.S. Swimming Championships


Any time Katie Ledecky swims a personal best, it’s a notable accomplishment.

Ledecky, the 10-time Olympic medalist, swam the fastest 400m individual medley of her career for her third victory in as many nights at the U.S. Championships in Irvine, California, on Thursday.

She clocked 4 minutes, 35.77 seconds to prevail by .89 of a second over fellow Olympian Leah Smith. Her time would have earned bronze at the world championships last month.

SWIMMING NATIONALS: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

She moved from outside the top 20 to No. 14 on the U.S. all-time list, passing 1988 Olympic 400m IM champion Janet Evans and 1992 Olympic 400m IM bronze medalist Summer Sanders.

Ledecky, whose previous best was 4:37.93 from 2016, does not swim the 400m IM at major international meets.

“I’ve got a lot of meters of racing that I would like to do at the big meets, so I think adding the 400m IM is a little bit of a stretch,” said Ledecky, who swam an Olympic record 6,200 meters in Tokyo (all freestyle).

It marked her first personal best in any event in an Olympic-size pool since her most recent world record in 2018.

The previous two days in Irvine, Ledecky swam the fourth-fastest 200m free of her career and won her trademark event, the 800m free, by 19.89 seconds. She did not enter any events on the last two days Friday and Saturday.

Later Thursday, Shaine Casas won the 100m butterfly in 50.40 seconds, a time that would have earned silver at last month’s worlds.

Casas, 22, matched Ian Crocker as the sixth-fastest man in history and the third-fastest American behind world record holder Caeleb Dressel and Michael Phelps, who held the world record before Dressel. Phelps’ best in a textile suit was 50.45.

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Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch

Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

Kyle Smaine

Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”