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Ledecky wins historic third straight world 400m freestyle gold

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Budapest (AFP)

Katie Ledecky of the United States made history on Sunday by becoming the first woman to win a third straight 400m freestyle gold at the world aquatic championships.

The 20-year-old clocked three minutes, 58.34 seconds, setting a new championships record, with compatriot Leah Smith second at 3.20secs back and China's Li Bingjie, who is only 15, third at 04.91.

Ledecky's time better the previous championship record which she set just hours earlier in Sunday morning's heat.

This is Ledecky's third straight world title over 400m after her wins at the Barcelona 2013 and Kazan 2015 world championships.

Her time was nearly two seconds slower than the world record she set in winning the Olympic title last year.

It is the first of six freestyle events Ledecky is entering in Budapest and will swim again on Sunday in the 4x100m freestyle relay for the USA.

Chinese teenager Li looked glumly at the scoreboard after her bronze.

"I was disappointed that I didn't break my own personal best, but I am happy with the medal," said Li after her podium finish.

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