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Katie Ledecky ties Michael Phelps record at swimming worlds; Ryan Murphy takes gold

Ledecky ties Phelps' record, wins 1500m free title
Katie Ledecky easily won the women's 1500m to become the first person to win two events five times at Worlds and claim her 15th individual world title, tying Michael Phelps for the most ever.

Katie Ledecky tied Michael Phelps’ record by winning a 15th career individual world swimming title. She also reasserted her clear gold-medal favorite status for next year’s Olympics.

Ledecky won the 1500m freestyle by an overwhelming 17.04 seconds at the world championships in Fukuoka, Japan, on Tuesday. Later, Ryan Murphy added a gold for the U.S. in the 100m backstroke.

Ledecky clocked 15:26.27, the third-best time in history in the longest event on the pool program, distancing silver medalist Simona Quadarella of Italy. China’s Li Bingjie took bronze.

It was Ledecky’s best time since lowering her world record to 15:20.48 in 2018, a welcome sight after moving from Stanford to the University of Florida after the Tokyo Olympics.

SWIMMING WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

She remains in her own tier in the 800m and 1500m frees, even as she shed the 200m free in this Olympic cycle and took silver in the 400m free on Sunday.

“I’m just really enjoying swimming right now, especially my distance events, I’ve just been feeling great,” Ledecky, undefeated in the 800m and 1500m for more than a decade, said on Peacock. “I feel like I’m getting better each time I swim them. That’s what you love to see. You love to see improvement, and that’s been my biggest goal over the last couple of years.”

Her 1500m goal coming into the meet was to break 15:30, so she celebrated with a splash in becoming the third-oldest U.S. woman to win an individual swimming world title, according to Bill Mallon of

Next year, she can become at age 27 the oldest U.S. woman to win individual Olympic swimming gold by more than a year, 12 years after becoming the second-youngest U.S. woman to win individual Olympic swimming gold, according to Olympedia.

Ledecky has the top 16 times in history in the 1500m free, which she has swum just 24 times (in finals) in the last decade.

Ledecky owns five world titles each in the 800m and 1500m frees, four in the 400m and one in the 200m.

Including relays, her 24 total world championships medals and 20 golds are both female records. Phelps owns the overall records of 33 medals and 26 golds.

Ledecky is expected to break her individual golds tie with Phelps in the 800m free final on Saturday.

Also Tuesday, Murphy completed his set of Olympic and world titles in the 100m and 200m backstrokes by taking the 100m back in 52.22. He outdueled world record holder Thomas Ceccon of Italy by five hundredths. American Hunter Armstrong took bronze for a second consecutive year.

“Every year you’re trying to just build upon what you’ve done in the past,” said Murphy, who at 28 became the third-oldest U.S. man to win an individual world title in an Olympic program event. “This year was a good year of training. That was the goal.”

Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte dominated the 100m breaststroke, prevailing by 1.22 seconds. Americans Lydia Jacoby and Lilly King, the last two Olympic champions, were third and fourth.

Meilutyte was the shock 2012 Olympic 100m breast champion at age 15, then briefly retired in 2019. She returned to global championship swimming last year and on Tuesday recorded her fastest time since 2013, when she won worlds and broke the world record.

Australian Kaylee McKeown overtook American Regan Smith with 25 meters left to win the 100m back by 25 hundredths in 57.53. American Katharine Berkoff followed McKeown and Smith for bronze.

McKeown, who swept the backstrokes at the Tokyo Olympics, earned her first 100m back world title, one year after winning the 200m back at worlds.

“I’ve had a hard 48 hours,” said McKeown, who was disqualified in the 200m individual medley semifinals on Sunday for an illegal backstroke-to-breaststroke turn. “If you’re not learning, you’re not growing.”

Brits Matt Richards and Tom Dean went one-two in the 200m free as defending champion David Popovici of Romania went from first to fourth in the last 15 meters.

Richards was 30th in the 200m free at last year’s worlds. Dean, two hundredths behind Richards, won the Tokyo Olympic title.

Swimming worlds finals continue Wednesday at 7 a.m. ET, live on Peacock. American Bobby Finke is a headliner in the 800m free, which he won at the Olympics.

Murphy beats Ceccon by .05 seconds in 100m back
American Ryan Murphy out-touched world record holder Thomas Ceccon by .05 to take gold and the world title in the men's 100m backstroke, with Hunter Armstrong taking bronze.