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Katie Ledecky breaks World Championships record in 400 freestyle

Katie Ledecky of Team United States celebrates after winning Gold in the Women's 400m Freestyle Final on day one of the Budapest 2022 FINA World Championships at Duna Arena on June 18, 2022 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Katie Ledecky opened the world swimming championships in style, winning the 400-meter freestyle in a championship record time of 3 minutes, 58.15 seconds.

The American Olympic gold-medalist topped 15-year-old Canadian Summer McIntosh, who took second, and fellow American Leah Smith, who earned bronze.

Australian rival Ariarne Titmus was absent from the competition, opting to skip the Budapest-hosted event. Titmus set the new 400-meter freestyle world record in May, clocking a blistering pace of 3:56.40 seconds to dethrone Ledecky.

The 400-meter victory in Budapest marks Ledecky’s 16th career world championships gold medal and her 12th individual world title, the second-most behind Michael Phelps’ 15 individual golds.

Ledecky will compete in two more individual events, swimming the 800-meter and 1,500-meter frees.