Ledecky, King take gold at Budapest
BUDAPEST, Hungary — Katie Ledecky breezed to her third gold medal of the world championships, backing off a bit on her most grueling night of the meet.
It was left to Lilly King to take down the swimming record book and claim another impressive triumph over her Russian rival.
Ledecky captured the 1,500-meter freestyle by more than half the length of the pool on Tuesday, and returned just 49 minutes later to post the fastest time in the semifinals of the 200 free.
While Ledecky sucked all the suspense out of her final — she was more than 19 seconds ahead of the runner-up — King made it 2-0 over Yulia Efimova in what has become one of swimming’s most compelling rivalries.
The finger-wagging American won gold at the Rio Olympics last summer after spurning Efimova and brazenly proclaiming the Russian star had no business being allowed to compete because of doping violations.
Efimova nearly broke Ruta Meilutyte’s 4-year-old record in the semifinals, giving her the prime lane in the middle of the pool.
But King, racing right beside her, was the one who came through again when it really counted. She got off to a blistering start and led all the way, touching in 1 minute, 4.13 seconds to shave 0.22 off the Lithuanian’s mark from the 2013 worlds in Barcelona.
American teammate Katie Meili edged out the Russian for the silver. King was especially giddy that the U.S. went 1-2, with Efimova relegated to a bronze.
Ledecky covered the metric mile in 15:31.82 — more than 6 seconds off her world- record pace from the world championships in Kazan, Russia, two years ago.
“I couldn’t really get my kick going into it that much,” said Ledecky, who waited 19.07 seconds for silver medalist Mireia Belmonte of Spain to finish, with the bronze going to Italy’s Simona Quadarella. “I just kind of stayed steady there.”
In all, five world records have been set in Budapest.
The Chinese team had a big night, as well.
Sun Yang captured his second gold of the championships, adding the 200 free gold to his victory in the 400 free. He finished more than a half-second ahead of American Townley Haas, while the bronze went to Russia’s Aleksandr Krasnykh.
Xu Jiayu touched first in the 100 backstroke, beating Americans Matt Grevers and reigning Olympic champion Ryan Murphy, who settled for silver and bronze.