BUDAPEST, Hungary — Bethesda native Katie Ledecky has extended her world championship medal record to 21, two more than any other female swimmer ever.
All but three are gold.
Ledecky, 25, captured her 18th gold medal in the women’s 4×200 freestyle relay final on Wednesday, with the fastest score – 1:53.67 – helping the American to a championship-record 7:41.45 victory.
Claire Weinstein, Leah Smith, Ledecky and Bella Sims lead Australia by 2.41 seconds and Canada by 3.31 seconds.
“It’s been fantastic,” Ledecky said. “These relays are easy to get up and go without thinking. I have a lot of trust in these three guys, I think we’re always left out and we’re always able to do it, so I’m very proud of the team.”
Her 21 medals at the World Championships are two more than 2001-13 compatriot Natalie Coughlin (7 gold, 7 silver, 5 bronze).
World swimming governing body FINA excludes the Women’s 4×200 Freestyle Relay in Fukuoka, Japan on July 24, 2001 in the gold it owes to Coughlin like the american team Disqualified in that event, the gold eventually went to Great Britain.
Ledecky’s 18 gold medals ties Ryan Lochte’s record and is the second-best all-time list for most swimming champions in the world. Only 26-year-old Michael Phelps has won more.
The United States has now won the women’s 4×200 freestyle relay in eight of the past 10 world championships, with exceptions in 2009 (behind China) and the last in 2019 (behind Australia).
“I’m proud,” Ledecky said of representing the U.S. in the relay. “I think I realised that when we were standing on the medal podium, we hadn’t sung the national anthem together in a while, trying to play those high notes together. So it was interesting to see it all come together and the timing also Very fast, so I think we really proved that we are here to play.”
Ledecky will still compete in the 800-meter freestyle heats on Thursday, with the final scheduled for Friday.
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