Katie Ledecky adds to historic career with 800 freestyle win at world swimming championships

Katie Ledecky gives the thumbs-up sign from the pool after winning the 800-meter freestyle final Saturday in Fukuoka, Japan.
Katie Ledecky gives the thumbs-up sign from the pool after winning the 800-meter freestyle final on Saturday in Fukuoka, Japan.
(David J. Phillip / Associated Press)
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Katie Ledecky added to her legacy as the greatest female swimmer in history when she won the 800-meter freestyle on Saturday at the World Aquatics Championships, establishing two more notable records with the triumph.

The victory by the 26-year-old Ledecky made her the first swimmer to win the same event six times at the world championships and also marked her 16th individual world title, breaking a tie with Michael Phelps for the most individual golds at the worlds.

Ledecky, who had the 30 top times in the 800 entering the race, led all the way, dominating her competitors and winning in a time of 8 minutes, 8.87 seconds.


The win in the 800 was Ledecky’s second individual gold of these championships following her win in the 1,500 freestyle on Tuesday. She also took silver in the 400 freestyle here.

Li Bingjie of China claimed the silver in the 800 in 8:13.31, while Ariarne Titmus of Australia took the bronze in 8:13.59.

Kaylee McKeown of Australia made some history with her gold in the women’s 200 backstroke. McKeown’s victory gave her a sweep of all three backstroke events here, after wins in the 50 and 100. She became the first swimmer to sweep all three backstrokes at the worlds.

McKeown took the lead at the final turn and steamed home in 2:03.85. She joined Leon Marchand of France and Qin Haiyang of China as swimmers who swept all three events in the same discipline at these worlds.

Regan Smith of the United States picked up the silver in 2:04.94, while Peng Xuwei of China got the bronze in 2:06.74.

Sarah Sjöström of Sweden continued her dominance with gold in the women’s 50-meter butterfly. The 29-year-old won in 24.77 and has now won the event five consecutive times at the worlds. The win brought Sjöström’s total number of individual medals at worlds to 20, equaling Phelps’ mark.


Zhang Yufei of China, who took gold in the 100 butterfly, claimed the silver in 25.05, while American Gretchen Walsh got the bronze in 25.46.

Fan favorite Rikako Ikee of Japan finished seventh (25.78), but was greeted warmly by the home crowd. The 23-year-old Ikee won six gold medals at the 2018 Asian Games, but was diagnosed with leukemia in February 2019.

Cameron McEvoy of Australia led all the way to capture the gold in the men’s 50-meter freestyle in 21.06. American Jack Alexy collected his second silver of the worlds in 21.57 to go with his silver in the 100 freestyle. Benjamin Proud of Britain, last year’s world champion, took the bronze in 21.58.

Maxime Grousset of France won gold in the men’s 100 butterfly in 50.14. The 24-year-old took the early lead and held on for the victory. Josh Liendo of Canada earned the silver in 50.34, while American Dare Rose made the podium with the bronze (50.46).

Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania equaled the world record of 29.30 in her semifinal in the women’s 50 breaststroke.

Australia won gold in the 4x100 mixed freestyle relay in a world-record time of 3:18.83. The U.S. took the silver in 3:20.82, with Britain getting the bronze in 3:21.68.