Ledecky off to a blaz­ing start on busy week at worlds

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Katie Ledecky started a very busy week at the world cham­pi­onships with a dom­i­nat­ing per­for­mance in the pre­lim­i­nar­ies of the 400-me­ter freestyle yes­ter­day. The 20-year-old Amer­i­can set a meet record with a time of 3 min­utes, 59.06 sec­onds, nearly 3 sec­onds ahead of the next-fastest qual­i­fier, team­mate Leah Smith (4:02.00).

Barely breath­ing hard, Ledecky eclipsed her win­ning time of 3:59.13 from the world cham­pi­onships in Kazan two years ago. She heads into the even­ing fi­nal as an over­whelm­ing fa­vorite to de­fend her ti­tle, the only bit of drama be­ing whether she can break her world record of 3:56.46 from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

“It’s good to get the first swim out of the way,” Ledecky said. “You’re al­ways a lit­tle bit ner­vous for the first swim. Now I can kind of carry that mo­men­tum for­ward through the rest of the meet.” Ledecky is hop­ing to win six gold medals in Bu­dapest with a daunt­ing sched­ule that would re­quire her to swim a to­tal of 6,300 me­ters. She won five gold medals at Kazan.

“I know how to man­age a meet like this,” Ledecky said. “I’ve worked to­ward this meet all year. Just try­ing to put it all to­gether now.” In other pre­lim­i­nar­ies on the first day of swim­ming at Duna Arena, home coun­try fa­vorite Katinka Hosszu led the women’s 100 in­di­vid­ual med­ley, world-record holder Adam Peaty of Bri­tain dom­i­nated the men’s 100 breast­stroke, Swe­den’s Sarah Sjostrom paced the women’s 100 but­ter­fly, Aus­tria’s Felix Aubock topped the men’s 400 freestyle and Ukraine’s An­dril Govorov was fastest in the men’s 50 fly.

Also qual­i­fy­ing for the men’s 400 free fi­nal were China’s Sun Yang, South Korea’s Park Tae-hwan and Aus­tralia’s Mack Hor­ton. Yang and Park have served sus­pen­sions for dop­ing and drawn the ire of Hor­ton, who doesn’t think any­one caught us­ing per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing drugs should be al­lowed to com­pete. Ledecky and Olympic gold medal­ist Si­mone Manuel are ex­pected to join the U.S. women’s re­lay for even­ing fi­nal. “That’s all up to the coaches,” Ledecky said.

— AFP

BU­DAPEST: Aus­tralia’s Mack Hor­ton (L) and Italy’s Gabriele Detti (R) re­act af­ter com­pet­ing in a men’s 400m freestyle heat dur­ing the swim­ming com­pe­ti­tion at the 2017 FINA World Cham­pi­onships in Bu­dapest, yes­ter­day.

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