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Swimming: Ledecky smashes record in 800m to take freestyle treble

Katie Ledecky qualifies second in the 200 freestyle semifinals

Swimmer Katie Ledecky set a world record en route to winning the gold medal in the 800-meter freestyle.

That Welsh medal haul now could be broken in Rio with more than a week of competition still remaining.

For Ledecky, special is routine.

In 1968, a teenager in North Dakota watched transfixed as Debbie Meyer won the 200-, 400- and 800-meter freestyles at the Mexico City Olympics. On Friday night, she also smashed a world record, which has many spectators wondering when Katie Ledecky will swim again at the Rio Olympics. Track runners now speed down surfaces that are built to be much "faster" than older courses could have been, and they're wearing higher-tech shoes and clothes while they make their moves.

She finished 11.38 seconds ahead of the runner-up, Jazz Carlin, of Britain, who clocked an 8:16.17. She said she did not believe so.

She won the heat by 6.57 seconds and is expected to cruise to gold in the event Friday at 9:20 p.m. on NBC.

US swimmers Maya DiRado and Missy Franklin advanced to Thursday night's semifinals for the women's 200-meter backstroke, posting the third and 11th fastest times, respectively. He grinned afterward, appeared relaxed and sounded at peace with the result.

For Phelps, this was the first event of these games in which he's failed to win a gold medal.

"Since I was a young girl it has been a dream to go to an Olympics and to finally be here is a dream come true but to be on the podium twice with two silver medals definitely hasn't sunk in, it feels a bit surreal".

After the race, Phelps stopped to embrace teammate Maya Dirado.

Ledecky is moving to Stanford University later this year.

It's fitting that Ledecky closed out these games with the 800: Back in 2012, it was her shocking win in this event (at age 15, she beat then-world record holder Rebecca Adlington) that announced Ledecky's presence as a swimmer with superstar potential.

No one, that is, except Ledecky and her coach Bruce Gemmell, who planned the 19-year-old's rise to superstardom three years prior.

"I didn't know who was going to get their hand on there first, but I was just thrashing my body as hard as I could", said Dirado, who added the individual gold to her three other medals at the Games.

Chen was also scheduled to compete Friday in the 50 meter freestyle.

The degree of difficulty for Phelps, 31, as he tried to win a fourth consecutive Olympic title was compounded by the cumulative fatigue from his gold-medal turns this week in two relays, the 200 butterfly and the 200 individual medley.

"I have got great googles so I could see around me". "[Debbie] told me she wanted me to do it".

On the medal stand the emotions swept over her.