BUDAPEST: American Katie Ledecky dominated the women’s 1,500 metres freestyle event to claim her second gold medal at the swimming world championships in Budapest on Monday, while Italy’s Thomas Ceccon smashed the men’s 100m backstroke world record.
Ledecky, who won the women’s 400 metres freestyle event on the opening day, cruised to the gold medal with a time of 15 minutes and 30.15 seconds.
The 25-year-old finished more than 14 seconds ahead of compatriot Katie Grimes who took the silver while Australia’s Lani Pallister took the bronze.
“I love this pool, I knew I put in the work to have a good swim and got into a rhythm,” Ledecky said.
“I’ve got the relay, that’s next on the agenda and then I will tackle the 800m. We’ll see (if I can get a record).”
Ceccon, 21, finished the 100m backstroke with a phenomenal time of 51.60 seconds – 0.25 seconds better than American Ryan Murphy’s previous mark.
Murphy, a four-times Olympic gold medallist, finished second while fellow American Hunter Armstrong was third.
“I have no words, there was an Olympic champion in 2016 (Murphy) and other strong people (in the field). I’m pretty happy,” said a speechless Ceccon.
Italy had more reason to cheer when 17-year-old Benedetta Pilato became the youngest Italian to win gold at the world championships when she won the women’s 100m breaststroke in a closely-contested race.
The three medallists were separated by less than a tenth of a second as Pilato finished with a time of 1:05.93 to pip Germany’s Anna Elendt by just 0.05 seconds while Lithuania’s 2012 Olympic champion Ruta Meilutyte was third (0.09s behind).
“I’m super happy, it was my dream and it came true tonight,” an emotional Pilato said as she broke down in tears, unable to finish her post-race interview.
Earlier, Romanian teenager David Popovici smashed the world junior record as he powered to victory to take gold in the men’s 200 metres freestyle event.
The 17-year-old became the first male Romanian swimmer to win gold at the world championships as he finished with a time of 1:43.21.
He finished more than a second ahead of South Korea’s Hwang Sun-woo while Britain’s reigning Olympic champion Tom Dean finished third.
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