Lochte makes history; Ledecky wins 4th gold
Ryan Lochte wrote himself into the history books on Thursday while Katie Ledecky won her fourth gold at the world swimming championships to cap a great night for the United States.
Lochte’s victory in the 200-meter individual medley final saw him become the first swimmer to win four consecutive world championships gold in the event.
“It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” said Lochte.
He now has 16 gold medals at world championships dating back to 2005.
Australia’s Grant Hackett is the only other swimmer to have won four consecutive world titles in a single event, having achieved the feat in the 1,500-meter freestyle between 1998 and 2005.
“It would have to be a toss up between this, it’s the coolest thing to make history in any sport, or 2011, when I broke the (200-meter IM) world record,” said Lochte when asked if this was the best moment of his illustrious career.
Lochte revealed U.S. swimstar Michael Phelps, who was sanctioned from taking part in Kazan, told him to take leadership of their country’s team via a pre-race text message.
The 31-year-old Lochte produced a commanding display to win his final and both butterfly expert Camille Adams and breaststroker Micah Lawrence said Lochte’s victory had inspired them to finish second in their following races.
Ledecky then anchored the United States women’s 4x200-meter freestyle relay victory.
The Americans finished the night with two golds and Adams’ silver in the women’s 200-meter butterfly to move up to second in the overall medals table behind China.
The 18-year-old Ledecky had already won the 200, 400 and 1,500- meter freestyle golds in Kazan and still has the 800-meter heats to come on Friday morning and final scheduled for Saturday night.
After Missy Franklin swam a strong first leg in the relay, Ledecky dived in with the United States slightly behind the Swedish team, but she put plenty of clear water between her team’s rivals to win by a clear margin.
Ledecky, who holds the world re- cords for the 400, 800 and 1,500-meter freestyle, has had an outstanding campaign in Kazan and has twice broken her own 1,500-meter record.
“There’s only one word I can use to describe Katie Ledecky — ‘phenomenal,’” said Lochte.
“It seems whenever she sets foot in the water she either wins gold or breaks a world record — she’s a beast.
“She got Team USA on a roll and we have to carry on that momentum.”
It was also a good night for Asia as Ning Zetao became China’s first 100-meter freestyle world champion, while Fu Yuanhui won women’s 50-meter backstroke gold with fellow 19-year-old Liu Xiang earning bronze for the Chinese team.
Japan’s Natsumi Hoshi won the women’s 200-meter butterfly gold to add to her 2012 Olympic bronze in the event while 17-year-old Chinese Zhang Yufei swam a new world junior record of 2:06.51 to take bronze.
Freestyle Battle Royal
The women’s 100-meter freestyle final on Friday will be a huge battle with Australian sisters Cate and Bronte Campbell, plus Holland’s Femke Heemskerk, all within 0.60 seconds of Sarah Sjostrom’s 52.78 seconds fastest time in the semifinals.
Cate Campbell is the defending champion.
Denmark’s world record-holder Rikke Moller Pedersen is on course to win women’s 200m breaststroke gold after qualifying fastest from the semifinals just ahead of Lawrence.
Pedersen, who set the world record in Barcelona two years ago, is now the favorite after Russia defending champion Yuliya Efimova failed to qualify.
Mitchell Larkin is on course to add 200-meter backstroke gold to the 100-meter title he has already won after qualifying as the fastest into Friday’s final.
He was just ahead of the United States’ Ryan Murphy and China’s Xu Jiayu. Olympic champion Tyler Clary of the USA was seventh fastest.
(Above) United States’ Ryan Lochte holds up his gold medal after winning the men’s 200-meter individual medley final at the Swimming World Championships in Kazan, Russia, Thursday, Aug. 6. (Right) United States’ Katie Ledecky holds her gold medal after winning the women’s 200-meter freestyle final at the Swimming World Championships in Kazan, Wednesday, Aug. 5.