GWANGJU, South Korea (AP) — The Americans got ailing Katie Ledecky back. They just couldn’t overcome a world record by the Australians.
Ledecky returned after two days out of the pool while being sick to swim in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay. She rallied the U.S. to the lead on her second leg, but it wasn’t enough to defend the title from 2017.
Australia won in 7 minutes, 41.50 seconds at the world championships on Thursday.
Ariarne Titmus, Madison Wilson, Brianna Throssell and Emma McKeon took down the old mark of 7:42.08 set by China at the 2009 worlds in Rome during the height of the rubber suit era.
The American was penalized for not touching the wall with both hands in a simultaneous motion in the first turn of the four-lap race.
It was a big blow for King, the outspoken doping critic aiming for a sweep of the breaststroke titles in Gwangju. She already won the 100 over Russian rival Yulia Efimova, who advanced to the 200 final as the fastest qualifier.
Dressel won swimming’s glamour event, the 100 free, for his third gold and fourth medal overall.
“It hurt really bad to be honest,” he said. “You don’t always get that magical feeling every night but you’ve just got to shut the brain off and go.”
Dressel touched in 46.96 seconds, the only man to dip under 47 seconds in the final. He was only 0.05 seconds off the 10-year-old world record of 46.91 set by Brazil’s Cesar Cielo.
“It took 100% effort and I had someone right there on my tail for me to race,” Dressel said. “I kind of shut off thinking about the race so that helped a lot and having Kyle right there.”
Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers of Australia settled for silver in 47.08. Vladislav Grinev of Russia took bronze in 47.82.
Dressel tied for quickest off the starting block and held off a challenge from Chalmers in the closing meters to defend the world title he won in 2017.
Dressel hopped on the lane rope, tossing his head back and his legs out in front of him in celebration.
Dressel’s other golds came in the 50 butterfly, a non-Olympic event, and the 4×100 free relay. He took silver in the mixed 4×100 medley relay.
The men’s 200 individual medley title went to Daiya Seto of Japan. He touched in 1:56.14.
Jeremy Desplanches of Switzerland took silver. Chase Kalisz, the 2017 champion, earned bronze, ending the Americans’ streak of winning at eight consecutive worlds.
In the women’s 200 butterfly, Boglarka Kapas of Hungary won in 2:06.78. U.S. teammates Hali Flickinger and Katie Drabot took silver and bronze, respectively, after coming in as the top two fastest qualifiers.
Smoliga won the women’s 50 backstroke, a non-Olympic event.
She took control from Lane 2 after her more heralded teammate, Kathleen Baker, had the fastest qualifying time. Smoliga clocked 27.33 seconds. Baker faded to sixth.
In the semifinals of the men’s 200 breaststroke, Matthew Wilson of Australia equaled the world record of 2:06.67. His time matched the mark set by Ippei Watanabe of Japan in January 2017. Watanabe finished third in the same heat.
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