Jan 17, 2016 10:01 PM
Ledecky breaks own world record in women's 800 freestyle
The Associated Press
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Katie Ledecky was barely in the pool when American swim great Michael Phelps was asked about the precocious teenager who seems to mow down world records at will.
"It's always something special when she gets in the water," Phelps said with an eye toward the timing board.
Is it ever. Minutes later, Ledecky produced yet another special moment in her young career by smashing her own world record in the 800-meter freestyle with a scorching 8 minutes, 6.68 seconds Sunday night in the Arena Pro Swim Series.
It was the fourth time the 18-year-old who doesn't even have a driver's license yet has broken the record since 2013, and she crushed her previous mark of 8:07.39 set last year at the world championships.
"I was feeling good going into it," Ledecky said. "I knew if I swam it the right way, I could do something good. I didn't know it would be that good."
This is getting routine for Ledecky in the 800. She owns eight of the top 10 times in history.
She wasn't challenged Sunday night as the crowd, knowing she was on record pace, cheered her on. American Becca Mann was second, but far back at 8:24.49.
"Once I get in my rhythm, I keep my head down and keep charging ahead," she said. "It's exciting when you can get pushed along by the crowd."
Ledecky's race started just a few minutes after Phelps beat Olympic teammate and longtime rival Ryan Lochte in the 200 individual medley in a battle between the old guard of American swimming. Phelps is 30 and Lochte is 31 heading into preparation for the Summer Games in Brazil.
Lochte led after two lengths, only to be caught over the final 10 meters as Phelps ripped through the freestyle leg to win in 1:58.00. Lochte was second at 1:58.43. Phelps, in lane four, could see Lochte, who was out in lane seven and couldn't see Phelps over the final 50 meters.
"I can look back throughout my career and say he's the one who brought the most out of me," Phelps said. "With Ryan it's something special. We've been racing since 2004. That was his first Olympic team in Athens and we've been racing ever since. It's good to take one when I can. He will fight back though. He's not somebody who rolls over."
Lochte owns the world record and he and Phelps hold all of the top 10 times in history.
Hungary's Katinka Hosszu won the 100 backstroke in 59.91. With American Missy Franklin, the 2012 Olympic champion, swimming in the lane to her immediate left, Hosszu made the turn in first, then had to hold off a charge from Franklin over the final five meters. Franklin was second in 1:00.03.
Hosszu followed that win with another dominant performance in the 200 individual medley, an event she has owned for years. Hosszu has the world record and six of the top 10 times, and easily won again in 2:10.69.
Matt Grevers, who won the Olympic gold medal in 2012 and finished third at the 2015 world championship, won the men's 100 backstroke in 53.35 seconds, beating his U.S. Olympic teammates Ryan Murphy and David Plummer.
Grevers, Murphy and Plummer posted three of the five fastest times in the world last year and Grevers conceded it will be a tough fight to make the U.S. team in Rio de Janeiro. Murphy's 52.18 seconds in 2015 was second-fastest in the world last year.
"You never know," Grevers said. "It will be one of us and Murphy."
Cammile Adams won the 200 butterfly in 2:08.21. Singapore's Quah Zheng Wen won the men's 200 butterfly in 1:58.07.
Andrew Wilson, who won the U.S. championship in 2015 and will be competing in his first Olympic trials this year, won the men's 100 breaststroke in 1:00.42.