Ledecky off to a blazing start on very busy week at worlds

AP
Katie Ledecky starts a very busy week at the swimming world championships with a dominating performance in the preliminaries of the 400-meter freestyle.
AP
Reuters

 Katie Ledecky of the US competes in the women's 400-meter freestyle heat at the FINA world championships in Budapest, Hungary, on July 23, 2017.

Katie Ledecky started a very busy week at the world championships with a dominating performance in the preliminaries of the 400-meter freestyle Sunday.

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 the relays, the United States was fastest in the women's 4x100 free relay while Brazil topped the men's 4x100 free, followed by Australia and the Americans.

Ledecky and Olympic gold medalist Simone Manuel are expected to join the US women's relay for the evening final.

"That's all up to the coaches," Ledecky said.


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