Katie Ledecky earns gold for record 20th swim worlds medal; Regan Smith wins backstroke

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BUDAPEST — Katie Ledecky won the 1500m freestyle for her 20th career world championships medal to tie Natalie Coughlin for the female record.

Ledecky, after winning her opening 400m free on Saturday, clocked 15 minutes, 30.15 seconds to win the longest event on the program on Monday. It was a U.S. one-two as 16-year-old Katie Grimes took silver, 14.74 seconds back.

Grimes is the youngest U.S. medalist at a worlds since Ledecky in 2013 and the second-youngest medalist ever in the women’s 1500m after Ledecky, who is now both the youngest and the oldest world 1500m free champion, according to Bill Mallon of Olympedia.org.

The U.S. added four medals between the men’s and women’s 100m backstrokes — gold (Regan Smith), silver (Ryan Murphy) and bronze (Hunter Armstrong and Claire Curzan). Murphy ceded his world record to Italian gold medalist Thomas Ceccon, who took it from 51.85 to 51.60.

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Ledecky, now a four-time world champion in the 1500m free, owns the 13 fastest times in history in the event. She won gold in the Olympic debut of the women’s 1500m free in Tokyo.

The only swimmers with more world championships medals than Ledecky are Michael Phelps (33) and Ryan Lochte (27). Ledecky’s 17 gold medals are also third in history behind Phelps (26) and Lochte (18).

She has two more events left at worlds, the 4x200m free relay on Wednesday and the 800m free on Friday and Saturday. In the 800m free, Ledecky can become the first swimmer to win five consecutive world titles in one event.

Also Monday, 2016 Olympic champion and world record holder Lilly King took fourth in the 100m breaststroke after squeaking into the final in the eighth and last spot.

King, vying to become the first woman to win three consecutive world titles in a breaststroke event, missed bronze by five hundredths behind 2012 Olympic champion Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania. Meilutyte retired in 2019 after it was announced she was facing a ban for missed (but not failed) drug tests. She was given a two-year ban and returned to competition last December.

Italian 17-year-old Benedetta Pilato won the 100m breast in 1:05.93, holding off German Anna Elendt by .05.

The 17-year-old Romanian David Popovici won the men’s 200m free in 1:43.21, the world’s best time in 10 years. Popovici became the first Romanian man to win a world title and the youngest male gold medalist from any nation in 15 years.

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Katie Ledecky earns gold for record 20th swim worlds medal; Regan Smith wins backstroke originally appeared on NBCSports.com