RIO DE JANEIRO • World records were smashed for a second night in the Olympic pool on Sunday - with Katie Ledecky cruising to victory in the women's 400m freestyle, Britain's Adam Peaty running away with the men's 100m breaststroke and Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom winning the women's 100m butterfly in style.
Ledecky, the rising US swimming sensation, shaved 1.91 seconds off her own world record on the way to the 400m gold, the first stage of a rare treble she hopes to complete along with the 200m and 800m.
"It's pure happiness," the 19-year-old said after leading the race from start to finish. "I wanted the first 200 to hurt as little as possible and I really felt like I could build into it and really explode that last 50."
She surged home to touch the wall in 3min 56.46sec, smashing her own record of 3:58.37 set on the Gold Coast, Queensland, in 2014.
She covered the last 50m in a blazing 28.92sec, leaving Jazz Carlin of Britain to collect the silver in 4:01.23 - 4.77sec adrift, while American Leah Smith took the bronze in 4:01.92.
After seeing her time, Ledecky grinned broadly, having achieved a goal she had set herself in 2013 of lowering the record in the event to "3:56 or better".
"To see 3:56 feels really good," said Ledecky, who now owns the six fastest times ever in the event and is one of only two women to break four minutes. Italy's Federica Pellegrini did it twice, in the era of the now-banned supersuits.
With the words of the late boxing legend Muhammad Ali ringing in his ears, Peaty obliterated his own world record to win the 100m breaststroke and provide Britain with its first male swimming gold medallist in 28 years.
The 21-year-old Englishman, showing no signs of nerves in his first Olympic final, blew away his opponents to win easily in a time of 57.13sec, slashing 0.42sec off the world record he had set in Saturday's heats.
South Africa's Cameron van der Burgh, the champion four years ago in London, took the silver in 58.69sec while American Cody Miller grabbed the bronze in 58.87sec, but none of the finalists could keep up with Peaty after he made a flying start off the blocks.
"I touched the wall and looked around and thought, 'Where is everybody?'" said Peaty, who was afraid of water when he was a child and showed no hint of what was to come until well into his teens.
With her victory and world record in the 100m butterfly, Sjostrom became the first Swedish woman to win an Olympic swimming gold.
She touched in 55.48sec, lowering the mark of 55.64 she set at the World Championships last August in Kazan, Russia - where she broke the record twice.
"I knew that when I had a good turn - I came in with my hands perfect in the turn - I knew it would be hard for the others to swim faster," she said.
The silver went to 16-year-old Canadian Penny Oleksiak (56.46sec) while the bronze went to American Dana Vollmer (56.63sec), 28, the London Olympics gold medallist who has a 17-month-old son, Arlen.
Sjostrom, who was fifth in the 100m fly in London, has dominated the event since 2013. But the Swede admitted she had sometimes doubted she would snag that elusive Olympic gold.
"Of course, all the time," she said. "It's like an everyday struggle. I knew before the Olympic Games that was something missing, and I knew no other girls (from Sweden) had won an Olympic medal before and I thought maybe it's time now."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE