Lani Pallister blown away as Katie Ledecky stuns swimming world with 'insane' feat

The Aussie golden girl was no match for her American rival at the world championships, who continues to re-write the record books.

Katie Ledecky and Lani Pallister at the swimming world championships.
Katie Ledecky won the 1500m freestyle by a mile as Lani Pallister finished fifth. Image: Channel 9/Getty

Australia's Lani Pallister was no match for Katie Ledecky on Tuesday night as the American legend blew away her rivals in the 1500m at the swimming world championships. Ledecky bolstered her credentials as the most decorated female swimmer in history, winning the event by an absolute mile.

It was her 20th gold medal at the world championships and 15th individual gold - drawing her level with the record set by fellow American great Michael Phelps. It was also the fifth time the 26-year-old has won the event at world championships level, making her the first swimmer in history to win multiple events five times (800m).

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Ledecky touched the wall in 15:26.27 - her third fastest time ever in the event - and now holds the top 16 times in history over the distance. None of the other swimmers were even in the camera shot when the American great touched home.

"I'm just feeling really locked into my distance races right now," the 26-year-old said. "I dove in and felt really, really good."

Simona Quadarella, Katie Ledecky and Bingjie Li at the swimming world championships.
Simona Quadarella, Katie Ledecky and Bingjie Li pose with their medals after the 1500m freestyle final. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Pallister was a distant fifth in 15:49.17 - some 0.21 seconds outside her personal best. The Aussie was third with 100m remaining and looked like capturing the bronze medal, but was hauled in by China's Bingjie Li and Anastasiia Kirpichnikova of France.

Pallister won the 1500m title at the short course world championships last December, taking advantage of Ledecky's absence. She became the first female swimmer to win the 400m, 800m and 1500m titles at one short course world championships, however she was disappointed with her performance on Tuesday night.

As for Ledecky, the swimming world was left blown away at how she continues to go to new heights. Reporter Kyle Stockwell tweeted: "Katie Ledecky just won the 1500m freestyle World Title by so much that she was the only person on camera when she touched the wall.

"Once again, Katie swimming so fast that she looks like she's the only one swimming. Greatest freestyler of all-time, no contest."

Ledecky can break Phelps' all-time record if she wins the 800m title for a sixth time. She had to settle for silver in the 400m as Australia's Ariarne Titmus reclaimed the world record in staggering scenes.

Kaylee McKeown wins backstroke gold in historic feat

Also on Tuesday night, Australia's Kaylee McKeown became the first woman in history to win the 100m backstroke title at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, world championship and short course world championships. She completed the 'swimming slam' with victory in Fukuoka on Tuesday night, bouncing back from a controversial disqualification in the 200m individual medley.

"I was very, very nervous heading in, probably moreso than I have ever been," the 22-year-old admitted. "It was just to real testament myself dealing with what I have over the past few hours.

"Nerves just mean that you care about what you're doing. When you train so hard for something, you just want it to all come together at the right moment."

McKeown was just 0.08 seconds away from breaking her own world record, overtaking American Regan Smith in the final 30 metres. "I'm sure there's been worse I've had to deal with, but it's definitely something I've learnt from, just not to take it so emotionally and just forget about it really," she said of her controversial disqualification from Sunday night.

"It was going to be 50-50 between the Americans and I. So it was really good coming back on that last 50 ... I dug deep and gave it everything I could."

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