BUDAPEST, Hungary — Katie Ledecky led an American one-two and won her fourth 1,500-meter freestyle title at the world swimming championships on Monday.
Ledecky never looked threatened and clocked 15:30.15 — just under 10 seconds more than her world record from 2018 — to finish 14.74 seconds ahead of Katie Grimes.
Ledecky punched the water in delight before waiting to embrace her teammate. Grimes, 16, is the second-youngest medalist in the 1,500 at a worlds since Ledecky won it for the first time in 2013.
Italy’s Thomas Ceccon, meanwhile, set a world record in the men’s 100 backstroke with a time of 51.60 seconds, shaving 0.15 seconds off the previous best mark set by American Ryan Murphy at the 2016 Olympics.
Ceccon is the second Italian man to set a world record in long course swimming after Giorgio Lambert. Lambert held the record in the men’s 200 freestyle from 1989-99. Ceccon is also the youngest gold medalist at 21 in the men’s 100 backstroke at a worlds since the then-19-year-old Aaron Piersol of the United States won in 2003.
Ledecky also won in 2015 and 2017 and has at least four world titles in each of the 1,500, 800 and 400-meter freestyle events. Monday’s gold was her record-extending 17th world title.
Only compatriot Michael Phelps also won at least four gold medals in three different swimming events at the worlds, though he achieved it in just one individual event — five 200 butterfly titles — as well as two relays (4×100 medley, 4×200 freestyle).
Australian Lani Pallister finished third, 18.81 off Ledecky’s pace, for her country’s first medal in this race. The 1,500 freestyle was the only women’s event at a worlds in which an Australian swimmer had not reached the podium.
Italy’s Simona Quadarella, who was second fastest in qualifying, finished fifth, more than half a minute behind.
Earlier, Romania’s David Popovici set a world junior record to win the men’s 200 meters in 1:43.21.
Popovici, 17, was 1.26 seconds ahead of South Korea’s Hwang Sun-woo and 1.77 ahead of Britain’s Tom Dean.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.