By Sharon Robb
BUDAPEST, Hungary, June 24, 2022–Katie Ledecky, the greatest woman swimmer of all time, won her fifth consecutive gold medal in the 800 freestyle Friday night at the 19th FINA World Aquatics Championships at Duna Arena.
Ledecky, 25, swimming in her “favorite event” is the first swimmer in history to win five straight world titles in the same event.
Ledecky, a grad assistant coach at University of Florida where she trains with Anthony Nesty, pulled away early in the race to win in 8:08.04, winning by nearly 11 seconds. It was the fifth fastest time in the event.
Aussie Kiah Melverton was second in 8:18.77 and Simona Quadarella of Italy was third in 8:19.00.
It was Ledecky’s 19th gold medal at world championships, moving her ahead of Ryan Lochte just behind leader Michael Phelps with 26 gold medals.
“I’m happy with it, I can’t complain,” Ledecky said. “I thought it was a little faster than that, but that’s the fastest I’ve been in a while, so really thrilled with that and really excited about the future as well.
“Year after year it’s really hard work,” Ledecky said. “In London I won my first gold ten years ago, back then they said I was a one-hit wonder and here we are, ten years later and I have another gold.
“It was a great week, probably the most fun I’ve had in a meet in a long time,” Ledecky said. “And the results showed. It’s just a really special team, and I know we’re not finished.”
There are 23 Florida Gold Coast swimmers wrapping up their swims on one of swimming’s biggest international stages.
Other FGC swimmers who competed on Friday were:
Michaela Sierra, 17, Uruguay, (Azura, South Florida Heat, Auburn), 50 breaststroke, 43rd, 34.25.
Jahir Lopez, 17, Ecuador, (Azura) 1500 freestyle, 23rd, 16:57.92.
Yeziel Morales, 26, Puerto Rico, (Azura), 50 backstroke, 33rd, 26.23.
Jillian Crooks, 15, Cayman Islands (TS Aquatics), 50 freestyle, 41st, 26.75.
No FGC swimmers are scheduled to compete on Saturday.
Four swimmers, including University of Florida’s Anna Auld of West Palm Beach, are entered in open water events which begin on Sunday with the 6K team relay (4×1500) off Lupa Beach. The 5K is Monday, 10K on Wednesday and 25K on Thursday.
In Friday night’s final events:
WOMEN’S 50 BUTTERFLY: Sarah Sjostrum of Sweden won the event for a record fourth consecutive time in 24.95. She also won the 50 fly in 2015, 2017 and 2019. She tied Michael Phelps with a record eight gold medals in butterfly events at worlds. Melanie Henique of France took silver in 25.31 and China’s Zhang Yufeli took bronze in 25.32. Americans Claire Curzan (25.43) and Torri Huske (25.45) were fifth and sixth.
MEN’S 50 FREESTYLE: In a wide open race with Caeleb Dressel and Bruno Fratus out of the field, Brit veteran sprinter Ben Proud, 27, dominated the field to win his first long course world gold medal in 21.32, 9/100ths ahead of Michael Andrew in 21.41, the American’s third individual world and fourth overall medal. Frenchman Maxime Grousset, who knocked Fratus out of a swim-off for the eighth spot in finals, was third in 21.57.
Proud had the best reaction time off the blocks in 0.57. Proud is the first British swimmer to ever win a world title in the event.
“This medal today, gold, silver, bronze, no matter what it was, it was always going to be for my brilliant team around me this year,” Proud said. “So I’m really chuffed to be able to bring something home. Big disappointment after the 50 fly. I really made a big mistake in that, but that fired me up for today and I’m much happier to be leaving a freestyle world champion.”
MEN’S 100 BUTTERFLY: Even though Hungarian Kristof Milak and American Michael Andrew turned together at the 50, it was Milak who turned it on to win his second gold medal of the meet in 50.14. Japan’s Naoki Mizunuma was second in 50.94 and Canadian Josh Liendo was third in 50.97. Andrew faltered to fourth in 51.11.
WOMEN’S 200 BACKSTROKE: In an exciting finish, Aussie Kaylee McKeown won gold in 2:05.08 just out-touching Americans Phoebe Bacon (2:05.12) and Rhyan White (2:06.96). It was the first time the U.S. won two medals in the event.
MIXED 4X100 FREESTYLE RELAY: With Mollie O’Callaghan swimming anchor, Australia broke the world record in 3:19.38 to dethrone the U.S., winners of the past three worlds since 2015. Jack Cartwright, Kyle Chalmers and Madison Wilson joined O’Callaghan on the relay. The Aussies shaved 2/100ths of a second off the 2019 record held by the U.S. Canada was second in 3:20.61 and the U.S. was third in 3:21.09.
Saturday prelim events are women’s 400IM, men’s 4×100 medley relay and women’s 4×100 medley relay. It is the final day of pool swimming.
The U.S. added five more medals to its tally of 15 gold, 8 silver and 14 bronze for 37. Australia is second with 15 total (6 golds, 8 silver, 1 bronze).
The aquatics championships that also feature diving, water polo, high diving, open water swimming and synchronized swimming end July 3.
The Olympic Channel and Peacock, on the NBC platform, is televising the finals at noon each day. A highlights show will be on NBC at noon on June 26.
Saturday, June 25: 50 men’s back, 50 women’s breast, 1500 men’s free, 50 women’s free, 400 women’s IM, 4×100 men’s and women’s medley relay.
Sunday, June 26: Open water, 6K team relay.
Monday, June 27: Open water, men’s and women’s 5K.
Wednesday, June 29: Open water, men’s and women’s 10K.
Thursday, June 30: Open water, men’s and women’s 25K.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com