Ledecky Breaks Phelps' Record

US swimmer still wanted 'to be better' at world championships
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 30, 2023 1:00 PM CDT
Ledecky Breaks Phelps' Record
Medalists, from left, Li Bingjie of China, silver; Katie Ledecky of the US, gold; and Ariarne Titmus of Australia, bronze, celebrate during the medal ceremony for the women's 800-meter freestyle at the World Swimming Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Here's why Katie Ledecky is one of the greatest freestyle swimmers in the history of the sport: She is never quite satisfied. The 26-year-old American won the 800-meter freestyle on Saturday at the world championships in Fukuoka, Japan, to become the first swimmer to win six golds in the same event at worlds. It was her 16th individual world title, the AP reports, breaking a tie with Michael Phelps for the most golds at worlds. She also is a seven-time Olympic gold medalist and the world record holder in both the 800 and 1,500.

But that winning time—8 minutes, 8.87 seconds, which is the seventh-quickest she'd ever swum—wasn't quite good enough in her favorite event. "I kind of wanted to be better than I was tonight," she said, twirling her right hand beside her right ear, trying to stir up ideas. "I'm pretty tough on myself. But I think I have found the balance of being tough on myself but also having that grace." The 800 was Ledecky's second individual gold following her win in the 1,500 free on Tuesday. She also took silver in the 400 free. Li Bingjie of China took silver in 8:13.31, and Ariarne Titmus of Australia got the bronze in 8:13.59. "It's fun to leave a meet with your favorite event, and I just wanted to leave it all in the pool," Ledecky said.

It was only the fourth gold for the US in the seventh of eight days in the pool. Meanwhile, Australia has been piling it on with 13 golds, matching its best at the worlds. Australia won three more golds on Saturday. The Americans lead the overall table with 31 medals (16 silver), Australia has 20 and China 13. Kaylee McKeown of Australia made history of her own with gold in the women's 200 backstroke. McKeown's victory gave her a sweep of all three backstroke events after earlier wins in the 50 and 100. She became the first swimmer to sweep all three backstrokes at the worlds. In a poolside interview, per CBS News, Ledecky said: "I know Michael, I know how many events he swam at meets like this. It's an honor to even be in that same sentence."

(More Katie Ledecky stories.)

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