Girls rule worlds as swim records tumble
Girl power prevailed at the world swimming championships on Monday as three women’s records fell and Hungary’s “Iron Lady” Katinka Hosszu lived up to her nickname.
After Katie Ledecky bettered her own 1500- meter freestyle world record in the morning’s heats and Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom broke her 100-meter butterfly mark, Hosszu claimed the 200 meter individual medley (IM) record which has stood since 2009.
The Hungarian’s achievement was all the more impressive as the 26-year-old clocked 2 minutes 06.12 seconds to take gold in the 200-meter IM final and shave 0.03 seconds off Ariana Kukors’ previous record from the 2009 world championships in Rome.
The U.S. swimmer set the time in the era of the super- fast neoprene suits, which have since been banned and Hosszu has been chasing the record.
“Honestly, I was just trying to race,” beamed Hosszu, who will also be defending her world 400-meter IM crown in Kazan.
“Obviously, the record was on my mind, it was my goal.
“But before the race I was just trying to give my best and race as fast as possible, and then there was a record. It was just perfect.”
Sjostrom was equally as delighted as she shaved 0.15 seconds off her own record — set in Sunday’s semifinals — to retain the world title she won two years ago in Barcelona by winning the 100-meter butterfly gold.
“I have been waiting six years to break my personal best time and now I have taken a few more tenths of a second off it — finally!” said Sjostrom as Denmark’s Jeanette Ottesen came second with China’s Lu Ying third.
Ledecky, who also holds the 800- meter record, hinted she could yet send more records tumbling in Tuesday’s 1500- meter final.
“It felt pretty easy,” said Ledecky, who also came within a second of her 400-meter freestyle world record while winning Sunday’s final.
“I am pretty shocked that I was able to do that.”
Ledecky only recently finished high school in Maryland, but this is the eighth time the teenager has set a world record in her fledgling career.
It is the fourth time the defending champion has broken the 1,500-meter record alone having first achieved the feat in Barcelona two years ago on her way to winning the world title.
There will be a battle royal in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke final on Tuesday with crowd favorite Yuliya Efimova of Russia, who is back competing after serving a 16-month doping ban for taking steroids, going head to head with 18-year-old Olympic champion Ruta Meilutyte.
The Russian was the fastest into Tuesday’s final after clocking 1 minute 05.60 seconds in her semi, but Meilutyte, the world record holder, touched the wall just 0.04 seconds slower.
Australia’s Emily Seebohm is on course for her second gold in Kazan.
She was the fastest qualifier into Tuesday’s 100-meter backstroke final by clocking 58.56 seconds.
Reigning world and Olympic champion Missy Franklin of the U.S. was fifth fastest at 0.86 back, having beaten Seebohm into second two years ago in Barcelona.
(Top) Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu kisses her gold medal after the medal ceremony for the women’s 200-meter individual medley final at the Swimming World Championships in Kazan, Russia, Monday, Aug. 3. (Above) The United States’ Katie Ledecky celebrates after setting a world record during her heat in the women’s 1500-meter at the Swimming World Championships in Kazan, Monday.