Phoebe Bacon

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.”

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

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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Katie Ledecky breaks record in Olympic Trials finale, joined on team by Little Flower buddy


Katie Ledecky was the youngest swimmer on the U.S. Olympic team in 2012 and 2016, but this past week, and especially Saturday night, the Olympic Trials showed the next generation arrived.

Ten teenage women have qualified for the U.S. Olympic swim team, with another possible on the final day Sunday. It’s the most since 1996.

Ledecky, 24, completed her Olympic Trials with her fourth victory in as many events, taking the 800m freestyle in 18:14.62. It’s her signature event, which she won at the 2012 Olympics at age 15, in 8:14.63. She is undefeated since and owns the 23 fastest times in history.

Her time Saturday wasn’t one of those 23, but it’s still faster than any other active woman has swum. She earned her eighth career Olympic Trials win, breaking the female record she shared with Katie Hoff and Tracy Caulkins (Michael Phelps won 16).

“I haven’t been super happy with my times, but I still feel like I’m in a good spot,” Ledecky said, summarizing her week and looking ahead to swimming five or six events in Tokyo when including relays. “I’m not comparing myself to my past.”

ON HER TURF: Ledecky’s dominance greatest in 800m free

Ledecky ranks second in the world this year in the 200m and 400m frees — behind Australian rival Ariarne Titmus — and first in the 800m and 1500m. Her best time this year in three of the four events came before Olympic Trials.

Also Saturday, Simone Manuel and Nathan Adrian qualified into Sunday’s 50m free finals to keep their chances alive of making the team. Both Olympic champions failed to reach the 100m free finals, making the 50m their only shot.

Caeleb Dressel won for the second time in as many finals in the 100m butterfly. Dressel, the world-record holder and world champion, is joined on the team by Tom Shields, whose wife rescued him in 2018.

SWIM TRIALS: Results | TV Schedule | Women’s Event Previews | Men’s Event Previews

Ledecky is joined on the Olympic team in the 800m by 15-year-old Katie Grimes, who was 5.74 seconds behind. Grimes becomes the youngest U.S. Olympic swimmer since Ledecky in 2012.

Earlier this week, Grimes finished third in the 1500m free, missing the team by one spot. Ledecky told her after that race, “You’re the future.” After Saturday’s final, Ledecky told her, “You’re the now.”

It’s reminiscent of 2012, when Ledecky opened Trials by finishing third in the 400m free, was told by Elizabeth Beisel that she had big things ahead, then won the 800m later in the week.

“Katie squared is going to crush it in Tokyo,” Ledecky said Saturday.

Grimes, in a TV interview and, moments later, in a virtual mixed zone, said she was speechless.

“I was not even expecting that,” said Grimes, who took 17.1 seconds off her 800m free personal best the last two days. “I’m just so honored to even be at this meet.”

Another teen, world-record holder Regan Smith, finished third in the 200m backstroke, missing the team by one spot. Smith previously qualified in the 100m back and the 200m butterfly.

Instead, Rhyan White won in 2:05.73, 2.38 seconds slower than Smith’s world record, to qualify in both backstrokes. Phoebe Bacon, 18, finished second to clinch her first Olympic berth, .33 ahead of Smith.

Bacon went to the same elementary school as Ledecky — Little Flower School in Bethesda, Maryland. When Ledecky was in fourth grade, she was paired with a “little buddy” in pre-kindergarten. That was Bacon.

Bacon followed Ledecky to Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart. Though Bacon didn’t matriculate at Ledecky’s Stanford, she did choose Ledecky’s former coach, Yuri Suguiyama, now the head coach at Wisconsin.

“It’s been a dream of mine to be on the Olympic team, I think since Katie went to Trials in 2012,” Bacon said. “That was kind of eye-opening to me — this young girl from the same area, same schools that I’ve been going to made her dreams come true. I wanted to follow in her footsteps.”

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Katie Ledecky has one Olympic Trials swim left, as does her Little Flower buddy

2021 U.S. Olympic Trials - Swimming - Day 6
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Katie Ledecky checked every box at the Olympic Trials so far. All that’s left is the event that made her famous nine years ago — the 800m freestyle — on Saturday night.

Ledecky qualified fastest into the final by 10.84 seconds in an eight-and-a-half-minute race. She is undefeated in this event since winning the 2012 Olympics at age 15.

Ledecky can become the fifth U.S. woman to swim in four individual events at an Olympics after Shirley BabashoffSummer SandersKatie Hoff (who did five in 2008) and Missy Franklin, according to Bill Mallon of (Tracy Caulkins also won four events at the 1980 Olympic Trials, but the U.S. boycotted those Games.)

Ledecky will also be part of the 4x200m free relay in Tokyo, giving her the chance to become the first American woman to win five golds at a single Olympics in any sport (Simone Biles can, too, but Ledecky can do it first by a matter of days.)

But Ledecky trails Australian rival Ariarne Titmus in the world rankings in the 200m and 400m frees. Titmus doesn’t swim the 1500m like Ledecky, so the 800m is at the tail end of her distances.

The number to monitor Saturday is 8:15.57, Titmus’ winning 800m free time from the Australian Trials. Ledecky went 8:16.61 in prelims.

SWIM TRIALS: Results | TV Schedule | Women’s Event Previews | Men’s Event Previews

A look at tonight’s races …

Men’s 100m Butterfly FINAL9:04 p.m. ET
Caeleb Dressel swam the third-fastest 100m fly in history in Friday’s semifinals. He already owned the fastest two times, so the tattooed Floridian is an overwhelming favorite here. His world record of 49.50 is in play. Rio Olympian Tom Shields, who in December 2019 shared that he attempted suicide in 2018, was the second-fastest qualifier. Shields ranked sixth in the nation in 2019, but on Friday clocked his fastest time in five years.

Women’s 200m Backstroke FINAL — 9:12
Regan Smith, 19, is favored here, in her best event, to qualify for a third individual event in Tokyo. She’s the world-record holder, and nobody else in this field has ever come within two and a half seconds of that best time. However, 18-year-old Phoebe Bacon was .23 off Smith in the semifinals (and the lone swimmer within 1.15 seconds of her). Bacon, sixth in the 100m back, was Ledecky’s “little buddy” as a pre-K student at Little Flower School in Bethesda, Md., when Ledecky was a fourth-grader at the same institution.

Women’s 800m Freestyle FINAL — 9:22
Bella Sims, a 16-year-old who qualified in the 4x200m relay, was second-fastest in the prelims by 1.22 seconds. She is already set to become the youngest U.S. Olympic swimmer since Ledecky in 2012. Sims will look to hold off Erica Sullivan, who was second to Ledecky in the 1500m free, Haley Anderson, who made the team last year in the open-water 10km, and Ally McHugh, who was fifth in her best event, the 400m IM.

Men’s 50m Freestyle Semifinals — 9:39
Tony Ervin, at 40 the oldest swimmer at Trials, was eliminated in morning prelims in 23rd place. Ervin won the 50m free at the Olympics in 2000 and 2016, but said in 2018 that his goal was not to make it to Tokyo, but try and make the final to shake the hands of the two men who do go. Nathan Adrian, 32 and an eight-time Olympic medalist, gets his last chance to qualify for Tokyo in this event. He was third in the prelims behind Dressel, an overwhelming favorite, and Michael Andrew.

Women’s 50m Freestyle Semifinals — 9:52
Simone Manuel gets her last chance at making the Olympic team in this event (where she is world champion and holds the American record). She was second in prelims, two days after failing to qualify for the 100m free final. Abbey Weitzeil, a Rio Olympian who already made it in the 100m free, was fastest.

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