Ledecky wins historic 12th world champs gold

Katie Ledecky (Getty)
Katie Ledecky (Getty)

Budapest - Katie Ledecky of the United States made history on Tuesday by becoming the first woman to win 12 world swimming championship gold medals with victory in the 1500m freestyle.

Ledecky clocked 15 minutes, 31.82 seconds with Spain's Mireia Belmonte taking silver at a huge 19.07secs back, while Italy's Simona Quadarella earned bronze at 22.04.

The 20-year-old is now the most decorated woman in world swimming championships history as she passed compatriot Missy Franklin, who has 11 world titles.

But despite her achievement, Ledecky said winning is not as easy as she makes it look.

"It's hard the other 364 days of the year, it's about putting the work in during practice, so that then I can step up," she said.

"I then know that I have the work in the bank and can post those good times."

This was Ledecky's third gold of these championships -- from a possible six she could finish with -- and she led from the start.

"I was a good position, holding a good pace and held steady there, I probably could have raced a bit harder in the last 50 metres, but I'm still happy with the swim and the time," she said.

The freestyle expert then showed her versatility by being the fastest qualifier from the women's 200m freestyle semi-finals.

She will target her fourth gold of these championships in Wednesday's final as her rivals are left in awe.

"Katie Ledecky is on another planet, so the goal of the race was to win the silver medal. For me, it is gold," said Belmonte.

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