Kristof Milak

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

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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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Kristof Milak crushes world record at home swim wolds; Bobby ‘Finkes’ again

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BUDAPEST — In 2019, Kristof Milak broke Michael Phelps‘ world record at age 19. In 2021, he won Olympic gold. But the highlight of his swimming career thus far happened on Tuesday night at the world championships in his home pool.

The Hungarian broke his own world record — by a significant 39 hundredths of a second — winning the 200m butterfly by a giant 3.03 seconds, or more than two body lengths.

Milak clocked 1:50.34. Phelps, the second-fastest flier in history, had a best time of 1:51.51, which stood as the world record for 10 years. But now Milak owns the five best times in history.

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“This is my home, my pool, I train here, I race here, lane four belongs to me, I really wanted to show something big for these fantastic people,” Milak said. “The Olympic gold means a lot, but winning here, with a new world record, in front of 4,000 people – that eclipses everything.”

Milak splashed and pointed at the scoreboard upon his finish, but the effort clearly took its toll. He loved everything about the raucous minutes in the Duna Arena — until he climbed out of the pool.

“I don’t feel my legs,” said Milak, who sat on the deck before taking any steps, absorbing the atmosphere. Moments later, he sat down again while doing an arena interview. Then he lay on his back on the mixed zone carpet after doing a Hungarian TV interview.

“I also asked the Hungarian announcer [before the race] to push the crowd over the last 60 meters,” he said. “As I’ve heard from the stands, he kept his promise.”

Milak was a backstroker until age 14, but even when he devoted to the butterfly, he focused on the 100m because he lacked strength.

At these worlds, Milak’s showdown with Caeleb Dressel in the 100m fly later this week might have been more anticipated than his 200m fly. But Dressel, the Olympic gold medalist and world record holder, is now in doubt for that race after he scratched Tuesday’s 100m free semifinals on unspecified medical grounds.

“With Caeleb or without Caeleb, my goal in the 100m fly is possibly to try to win the gold medal or try to win the silver medal or even maybe set a new world record,” Milak, who was .23 behind Dressel in Tokyo, supplanting Phelps as the second-fastest man in the event’s history, said through a translator. “Of course, it would be much better that while we are in this house Caeleb would swim the 100m fly to have that fight, but we’ll see what he decides.”

Also Tuesday, American Bobby Finke followed his surprise Olympic 800m and 1500m freestyle gold medals with his first world title.

Finke, 22, won the 800m free in an American record 7 minutes, 39.36 seconds, prevailing by 27 hundredths over German Florian Wellbrock. Ukraine’s Mykhailo Romanchuk earned bronze.

Just like Tokyo, he “Finke’d” the field, coming from fourth place at 750 meters to snatch gold. Last summer, he became the first American man to win an Olympic distance freestyle title since 1984. Here, he became the first American man to win a world championships distance freestyle event since 1975.

“There was only one goal for me, to go with the group and finish in my typical way, make a sprint over the last 50,” Finke said. “It was very painful, but it was worth every stroke.”

American Nic Fink won two gold medals — in the 50m breaststroke, which is not an Olympic event, and as part of the mixed 4x100m medley relay with Hunter ArmstrongTorri Huske and Claire Curzan. The U.S. was fifth in the mixed medley relay’s Olympic debut as the lone nation to not use a male breaststroker in Tokyo.

Fink made his first Olympic team last year at the advanced age (for a swimmer) of 27 and at this meet won his first Olympic or world medals. Fink is working toward a master’s degree in computer and electrical engineering and taking his swimming career “six months at a time.”

China’s Yang Junxuan won a women’s 200m free final that lacked all three Tokyo Olympic medalists. Yang, who was fourth in Tokyo, prevailed in 1:54.92, topping Aussie Mollie O’Callaghan by three tenths. China’s Tang Muhan took bronze.

Tokyo gold medalist Ariarne Titmus of Australia is skipping worlds to focus on the Commonwealth Games later this summer. Silver medalist Siobhan Haughey of Hong Kong withdrew before her races at worlds with an ankle injury. Bronze medalist Penny Oleksiak of Canada was disqualified from the semifinals for a false start.

Katie Ledecky, the 2016 Olympic champion, qualified to swim the 200m free at worlds but dropped it to focus on her longer events. Ledecky had Tuesday off in Budapest and returns Wednesday for the 4x200m free relay.

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Kristof Milak, swimmer who broke Michael Phelps world record, recovering from coronavirus

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Kristof Milak, the Hungarian who broke Michael Phelps‘ 200m butterfly world record last year, is recovering after contracting the coronavirus last month, according to Hungary’s swimming federation.

Milak’s coach, Attila Selmeci, said the 20-year-old swimmer had a fever and weight loss amid overall weakness. He has since tested negative but needs more medical tests before returning to the pool, according to the federation.

Milak is in doubt to return for the International Swimming League later this fall.

At the July 2019 World Championships, Milak won the 200m fly in 1:50.73, taking .78 off Phelps’ mark from the 2009 World Championships, where since-banned high-tech swimsuits contributed to a bevy of fast times.

“As frustrated as I am to see that record go down, I couldn’t be happier to see how he did it,” Phelps said after watching the race online, according to The New York Times. “That kid’s last 100m was incredible. He put together a great 200 fly from start to finish.”

Milak became the first man to break an individual Phelps world record since Milorad Cavic took the 100m fly at the 2009 World Championships, where Phelps snatched the record back the following day. (Later at worlds, Caeleb Dressel broke Phelps’ 100m fly world record, leaving the 23-time Olympic champion with one individual world record in the 400m individual medley.)

Phelps held the 200m fly world record since 2001, his streak of 18 years the longest for one men’s event in swimming history, according to Olympic historians Bill Mallon and Hilary Evans.

Milak was a backstroker until age 14, but even when he devoted to the butterfly, he focused on the 100m because he lacked strength. Milak broke out in 2018 by lowering his 200m personal best to 1:52.71, the sixth-fastest time in history behind four from Phelps and one from countryman Laszlo Cseh.

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