See Katie Ledecky's incredible comeback swim at world championships



Katie Ledecky has had a challenging week at FINA world championships in South Korea, which included an illness that forced her to drop out of her best event, the 1,500-meter freestyle, and landed her in the hospital.

But on the last length of the 800-meter freestyle Saturday, Ledecky looked like the dominant superstar she’s expected to be. Going into the final 50 meters with a fourth-consecutive title in the event on the line, Ledecky trailed Italy’s Simona Quadarella by .18 seconds.

She had a fast turn off the last wall and jumped out ahead of Quadarella for an incredible late comeback.

The 22-year-old two-time Olympian won gold with a time of 8 minutes 13.58 seconds, while Quadarella finished second and Australia’s Ariarne Titmus finished third.

With the lead for the first half of the race, Quadarella slightly passed Ledecky at the 450-meter mark and the two battled for the lead, leaving Ledecky in the unusual position of playing catch-up.

Ledecky said she was motivated to power through her illness as she watched multiple world records get broken this week, including by Americans Caeleb Dressel and Regan Smith, who snapped Michael Phelps’ and Missy Franklin’s records. Via Agence France-Presse:

“I got to the pool this morning to warm up and felt a little nauseous again which wasn’t great,” she said. “I had a brief moment of doubt there but pulled it together and made it happen today.

“Last night after watching all the fast swimming I said (to my coach) I so, so badly want to go have a good swim tomorrow. Just watching those records tumble… really fired me up,” she added.

Ledecky’s time Saturday is not even close to her world record of 8:04.79 from the 2016 Rio Olympics. The 800 is the only event she’s won gold in at multiple Olympics, as it was her only event in 2012 in London.

Watch Ledecky’s whole 800 free race thanks to NBC Sports:

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All of this is still incredible, considering how sick she’s been this week.

First on Sunday, Titmus upset Ledecky in the 400-meter freestyle, and then Tuesday, Ledecky had to withdraw from the 1,500 final and the 200-meter freestyle heats because of her illness.

She returned to the pool Thursday with a strong individual performance in the women’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay as Team USA took second to the Australian team, which set a new world record with its victory.

More from NBC Sports:

In between, Ledecky said she spent seven hours in the hospital Tuesday with she believes was a viral illness but hasn’t gotten an exact diagnosis.

Her symptoms included insomnia (on Saturday morning she didn’t fall asleep until 3), an elevated heart rate, headaches and an inability to keep food down. She plans to visit doctors upon landing in the U.S.

Even Saturday morning, she felt nauseous and hot soon after arriving at the pool, but thankfully splashing into the water, where she has looked most comfortable the last seven years, cooled her off. She said she thought about withdrawing from the 800m final “for about a minute.”

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Via OverwatchWire


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