Peerless Ledecky rampant, King breaks record

(From left) Yuliya Efimova, Lilly King and Katie Meili pose with their medals.
(From left) Yuliya Efimova, Lilly King and Katie Meili pose with their medals. PHOTO: REUTERS

BUDAPEST • The final session of the swimming World Championships started with a bang yesterday, with Lilly King breaking the women's 50m breaststroke world record.

The American claimed the bragging rights in her trilogy with Russia's Yuliya Efimova in style, touching home in 29.40 seconds.

Efimova settled for silver in 29.57sec, while American Katie Meili (29.99sec) took bronze.

Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte set the previous world record (29.48sec) four years ago in Barcelona. She finished fourth in 30.20sec. Defending champion Jennie Johansson (30.31sec) of Sweden was fifth.

King and Efimova were clashing for the third and final time in Hungary. King won the 100m final in a world-record time of 1:04.13 on Tuesday, while Efimova took bronze. The Russian then gained revenge with a commanding display in Friday's 200m final as her rival faded to fourth.

There is no love lost between them after King labelled Efimova a "drug cheat" at the Rio Games, due to the latter having served a 16-month doping ban.

King's team-mate Katie Ledecky has declared herself satisfied after winning her 14th World Championship gold medal in total on Saturday with victory in the women's 800m freestyle final.

The 20-year-old clocked 8min 12.68sec, with China's Li Bingjie (8:15.46) taking silver at 2.78sec back, a new Asian record, and America's Leah Smith (8:17.22) claiming bronze.

Ledecky finished her third World Championships with five golds from the 400m free, 1500m free, 4x100m free and 4x200m free.

"It's a great feeling, it's always an honour to represent Team USA at this level of a meet," said the most decorated female swimmer in World Championships history.

She suffered the only defeat of her career in a world final when she took silver in the 200m free behind Italy's Federica Pellegrini on Wednesday.

"I had some ups and downs this week, but I'm happy to come away with those five golds and a silver," she said. "I can take a lot away from this week."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2017, with the headline 'Peerless Ledecky rampant, King breaks record'. Print Edition | Subscribe