BUDAPEST ( Associated Press) – Katie Ledecky started the United States’ medal winning streak by winning gold in the 400-meter freestyle at the World Swimming Championships on Saturday.
Ledecky clocked 3 minutes, 58.15 seconds on the first day of competition to earn her fourth world title after 2013, 2015 and 2017.
The United States finished the first day of competition with two golds, one silver and three bronze.
Ariane Titmus defeated Ledecky to lift the title in 2019 and broke the world record last month, but the Australian skipped the Worlds in Budapest to focus on next month’s Commonwealth Games in England.
“It’s great to get the first gold medal for the US team,” said Ledecky, who said he’s working to win back the world record as well. I’m on the right track.
The victory in the 400 meters gave Ledecky his 16th gold at the World Championships and his 18th medal in these competitions. She is just one behind Natalie Coughlin, the woman who won the most medals in World Cup history.
Now, Ledecky turns his attention to a potential fifth world title in the 1,500 meters. The qualifiers will be on Sunday and the final on Monday.
15-year-old Canadian Summer Mackintosh won the silver medal, 1.24 seconds behind Ledecky.
“I just wanted to have fun and compete and have fun with others,” McIntosh said.
In third place was American Leah Smith at 3.93 and Australian Lani Pallister in fourth.
The US relay team made up of Celeb Dressel, Ryan Held, Justin Reuss and Brooks Curry won the 4×100 freestyle in 3:09.34. The second were Australians and the third Italians.
Australia responded with the women’s 4×100 title with a gain of 1.20 over the Canadians and 1.63 over the Americans.
Molly O’Callaghan, Madison Wilson, Meg Harris and Shayna Jack clocked 3:30.95.
“Everyone did their job,” said Wolson.
Australian Elijah Winnington defeated German Lukas Martens in the final section to win the men’s 400 meters to win the first gold of the evening. Winnington clocked a time of 3 minutes, 41.22 seconds, a personal best and third fastest at the World Championships.
“I try to keep up with the Aussie, but he eventually got carried away,” said Martens, who finished at 1.63 seconds.
The third was Brazilian Guilherme Costa.
None of the 2019 medalists competed in the 400m this time. Chinese Sung Yan is facing a penalty for doping, 2016 Australian Mack Horton—Olympic champion—failed a 0.10 second classification and Gabrielle Datey did not register.
Britain’s Benjamin Proud defeated American Caleb Dressel and Italy’s Thomas Secon in the 50m butterfly semifinals. The final will run on Sunday.
Leon Marchand won the gold medal for France with an impressive performance in the 400m medley. Marchand took 4:04.28 to better the European record, 2.28 ahead of Carson Foster and 3.19 over Chase Kalis, both Americans who won silver and bronze respectively.
Marchand achieved the second-fastest time in history, after the record set by Michael Phelps with 4:03.84 at the Beijing Olympics.
There was a lot of excitement from the audience to Hungarian swimmers at the Dua Arena. Swimming’s governing body FINA had urged fans to clap instead of shout as a precaution against the coronavirus.
There were no other requests or restrictions.
Budapest ended up hosting the event, having been postponed twice from its original dates in Fukuoka, Japan, last year due to a scheduling clash with the Tokyo Olympics and the pandemic there.