Katie Ledecky breaks world record; Phelps beats Lochte in Austin
Katie Ledecky broke the 800m freestyle world record for the fourth time in as many years, clocking 8:06.68 in Austin, Texas, on Sunday night.
“I kind of knew from the start if I put together a good swim and swam it the right way that I could have a pretty good swim,” Ledecky, who exuberantly splashed in her lane after seeing her time, said on NBC Sports Live Extra. “Every race is different, every world record has some sort of meaning.”
Ledecky, 18, first lowered the 800m free world record of 8:14.10 set by Rebecca Adlington at the Beijing 2008 Olympics on Aug. 3, 2013, when she won the World Championship in 8:13.86.
Ledecky later broke the record on June 22, 2014 and on Aug. 8, when she repeated as World champion in 8:07.39.
Her world record Sunday marked the 11th in her career in a long-course meters event.
Ledecky, who won the 2012 Olympic 800m free as the youngest member of the U.S. delegation of more than 500 athletes, owns the 400m, 800m and 1500m free world records.
She is the reigning World champion in the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m frees.
In Rio, Ledecky could become the second U.S. woman to swim the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m frees at one Olympics, if she finishes in the top two in each event at the June/July Olympic trials in Omaha. The women’s 1500m free is not on the Olympic program.
Including relays, Ledecky could also challenge the records for most gold medals won by a woman at a single Olympics (six by East German swimmer Kristin Otto at Seoul 1988; the U.S. record is four by Missy Franklin and Amy Van Dyken).
Also in Austin, Ledecky set personal bests in the 100m and 200m freestyles and won the 400m free with the fifth-fastest time of all time.
“The 400 is my sweet spot,” Ledecky told media in Austin. “It’s probably what I train for the most, and then I’m able to go up and down from it.”
Earlier Sunday, Michael Phelps notched another first in his comeback, beating Ryan Lochte in a 200m IM final for the first time since the London Olympics. Full Austin meet results are here.
Phelps, who came out of a 20-month competitive retirement in April 2014, topped Lochte in the event by clocking 1:58.00 to his rival’s 1:58.43.
“I can look back throughout my career and say he’s probably the one who has really brought the most out of me,” Phelps told media in Austin. “I’ve had a lot of people that I’ve raced and, I guess I have a history with, but I think with Ryan it’s something special. We’ve been racing since 2004.”
Phelps and Lochte had competed in the 200m IM in four meets since Phelps’ comeback going into Austin -- with Lochte clocking a faster time in every one of those meets.
The 200m IM is the staple of the Phelps-Lochte rivalry. Phelps has won the last three Olympic 200m IM titles, with Lochte joining him on the podium each time. Lochte has won the last four World titles.
Phelps swam the fastest time in the world in 2015 -- 1:54.75 -- at the U.S. Championships, after Lochte took the World Championship in 1:55.81, the second-fastest in the world in 2015, three days earlier.
Lochte is the world-record holder, thanks to his 1:54.00 at the 2011 World Championships.
Earlier Sunday, Franklin took second in the 100m backstroke behind Hungarian Katinka Hosszu, who won the 200m individual medley about 15 minutes later.
Franklin also finished sixth in the 100m free on Friday and third in the 200m free and 200m back on Saturday.
Olympic champion Matt Grevers prevailed in a 100m back final that included the three fastest U.S. men in the event in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Grevers prevailed in 53.35, followed by Ryan Murphy in 53.46 and David Plummer in 53.50.
That trio is expected to vie for two Olympic spots at the trials on June 28, possibly along with Olympic silver medalist Nick Thoman.
The Pro Swim Series continues March 3-5 in Orlando.
MORE SWIMMING: Ledecky looks like Olympic contender in 100m free
*Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated no U.S. woman has swum the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m freestyles at one Olympics.