The start of the swimming competition at the 17th FINA World Championships produced fine performances in a packed Duna Arena in Budapest (HUN). In the two individual finals of the day, both Sun Yang (CHN) and Katie Ledecky (USA) confirmed their favourite status, getting their third consecutive titles in the event. The North American star added a new Championships record to her gold and would shine once more in the 4x100m free relay, getting her second success in the Magyar capital and 11th world crown since 2013. In a day that saw USA taking three titles out of the four at stake, Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) was the other hero of the session, with a new World Record in the women’s 100m free, after leading-off the Swedish 4x100m free relay in 51.71. She also gave excellent indications for the 100m fly, being the fastest of the semis.
Men’s 400m free
In the first final of the day, Sun Yang (CHN) became the second swimmer in the history of the FINA World Championships to win the 400m free crown on three consecutive occasions. After his 2013 and 2015 victories, the Chinese great swam also for the gold in Budapest, in a time of 3:41.38. This was the fastest of his triumphs. Before him, only Ian Thorpe (AUS) had managed the treble, in 1998, 2001 and 2003. Sun perfectly controlled the race and his superiority was clear from the 200m mark. Junior World Record holder Mack Horton, from Australia, earned silver in 3:43.85, bettering his junior global standard. The bronze went to Italy’s Gabriele Detti, in 3:43.93. Curiously, this podium had the same athletes than the one at the Rio 2016 Olympics’, with a major difference: then, Horton was first and Sun second. Taehwan Park (KOR), winner of the event in 2011, had to content with the fourth place (3:44.38), while James Guy (GBR), silver medallist in Kazan 2015, was only sixth in 3:45.58.
Women’s 400m free
After comfortably setting a new Championships Record (3:59.06) in the heats, there weren’t many doubts about Katie Ledecky’s possibilities of winning the women’s 400m free. The US star proved clearly superior than the rest of the field, establishing a new Championships Record in 3:58.34. This excellent performance is however almost two seconds slower than her global mark of 3:56.46, set at the Rio 2016 Olympics. With this triumph, Ledecky is now the only swimmer in the Worlds’ history to have won this event on three occasions, and consecutively. Moreover, it is the 10th gold for the US great in this competition, out of 10 finals swam. The podium was completed by Leah Smith, also from USA, in 4:01.54, while China’s Li Bingjie was third in 4:03.25.