Katie Ledecky was off tor the night Monday at the world championships. It was up to someone else to seize the moment. Swimming in her home nation, Hungary’s Iron Lady did just that.
Katinka Hosszu lived up to her country’s enormous expectations with an electrifying victory in the 200-meter individual medley, spurred on by a flag-waving, foot-stomping crowd at Duna Arena.
The new 12,000-seat aquatic facility along the Danube was packed all the way to the rafters, and it was clear who most of the fans came to see.
Hosszu didn’t let them down.
“It’s really hard to put into words what it means to win at home,” she said. “It definitely gives you extra energy and motivation. It was just crazy.”
The former USC Trojan swimmer led from start to finish in the race encompassing all four swim strokes, finishing off with the freestyle and a time of 2 minutes, 7.00 seconds. It was nearly a second slower than her world-record performance at the Rio Olympics last summer but enough to hold off hard-charging Yui Ohashi of Japan, who settled for silver in 2:07.91.
The bronze went to Madisyn Cox of the United States in 2:09.71, just ahead of teammate Melanie Margolis.
After touching the wall, Hosszu pounded the water, stuck out her tongue and climbed atop a lane rope to acknowledge the raucous crowd. Her husband and coach, Shane Tusup, pumped his fists and led out a guttural scream.
Hosszu popped out of the water and ran around the deck to embrace Tusup, who handed her a red cap emblazoned with the nickname she received a few years ago for her grueling repertoire of events.
“This is pretty much how I felt the first time I won,” she said.
Hosszu wasn’t the only big name to claim gold on the second night of swimming.
Britain’s Adam Peaty romped to victory in the 100-meter breaststroke, while Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom just missed breaking her own world record in the 100 butterfly.
After claiming two golds on Sunday , Ledecky’s lone race was the morning preliminaries of the 1,500 freestyle. She breezed through the grueling event in 15:47.57 — nearly 18 seconds faster than second-fastest qualifier Mireia Belmonte of Spain.
In the semifinals of the women’s 100 breast, Olympic gold medalist Lilly King and Yulia Efimova set up a rematch of their bitter race in Rio, where the finger-wagging American called out her Russian rival for a history of doping violations .
Efimova was the fastest qualifier at 1:04.35 — just one-hundredth of a second off the world record — and King was right behind at 1:04.53.