American swimmer Ledecky captures gold, breaks world record
The unassuming teenager from suburban Washington gave the United States its first swimming gold medal of the Rio Olympics on Sunday night, crushing her own world record in the women’s 400-meter freestyle.
The result was totally expected. Ledecky has dominated the longer freestyle events since winning gold in the 800 free at the London Olympics as a 15-year-old.
The only drama was whether she’d take the world record even lower.Her powerful stroke quickly made that a moot point, too.
Ledecky kicked off the first wall with a lead of nearly a body length and steadily pulled away from the overmatched field — as well as the world-record line superimposed on the video screen.
Her arms churning effortlessly through the water, Ledecky touched nearly 5 seconds ahead of her closest pursuer and quickly whipped around to look at the scoreboard.
When Ledecky saw the time — 3 minutes, 56.46 seconds — she let out an uncharacteristic scream and shook her right fist. She crushed the mark of 3:58.37 that she set nearly two years ago on the Gold Coast of Australia, and had been chasing ever since.
It was a night of world records at the Olympic Aquatics Center. Britain’s Adam Peaty set his second mark in as many nights in the 100 breaststroke, while Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden eclipsed her own mark in the 100 butterfly.