Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus broke the women’s 400m freestyle world record — and defeated American rival Katie Ledecky and previous world record-holder Summer McIntosh of Canada — at the 2023 World Swimming Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, on Sunday.
Titmus, the reigning Olympic gold medalist in the event, led from 100 meters and ultimately clocked 3:55.38, cutting seven-hundredths off McIntosh’s world record and touching the wall more than three seconds ahead of Ledecky (3:58.73). New Zealand’s Erika Fairweather claimed bronze, while the 16-year-old McIntosh placed fourth.
Titmus, Ledecky, and McIntosh are the three fastest women to ever swim the 400m free and the event was billed as the ‘Race of the Century’ heading into this week’s world championships.
Ledecky owned the world record in the event from 2014 until last year, when Titmus claimed it for herself at Australian Championships. McIntosh then took it over at Canadian Trials in March.
“It wasn’t something (breaking the record) that I had my mind on for this meet,” Titmus told reporters in Japan. “I just wanted to come here and try and swim the way I know I’m capable of. I knew the only way to win — I believed — was to try to take it out (fast) and whoever had as much fight left at the end was going to win it.”
By taking silver, Ledecky claimed the 23rd world championship medal of her career, extending her mark as the most decorated female swimmer in world championship history.
“I think you could just see the world record coming. It’s been a very fast year of swimming and it was kind of predictable that it would be a really fast field,” Ledecky said. “I can’t really complain. My stroke feels good. I feel good in the water. I think all year my 800 has felt better than my 400, so I’m excited about the rest of my week.”