By Philip Hersh, Tribune reporter
2:12 PM EDT, July 28, 2013
Katie Ledecky, on the verge of her junior year in high school, showed she also is on the verge of joining teammate Missy Franklin as a big star of world swimming as the binennial World Championships opened Sunday in Barcelona.
Ledecky, 16, of Bethesda, Md., won the 400-meter freestyle in a U.S. record time of 3 minutes, 59.82 seconds, nearly two seconds faster than the mark Allison Schmitt set while getting the silver medal in the event at the 2012 Olympics. It also was more than four seconds faster than her month-old personal best.
A year ago, Ledecky had become the surprise Olympic champion in the 800 free. She will swim that event and the 1,500 free later in the worlds.
Her victory was one of two for Team USA in Sunday’s four finals. The other came in the women’s 4 x 100 free relay, where Franklin led off the quartet that set a U.S. record of 3:32.31.
Naperville’s Kevin Cordes had the second fastest time in Sunday’s semifinals of the 100 breaststroke, winning his race in a personal best 59.78. Christian Springer of Australia (59.23) was the fastest qualifier for Monday’s final.
This is the first long-course worlds for Cordes, 19, a rising junior at Arizona and three-time NCAA breaststroke champion.
Winnetka's Conor Dwyer swam the prelims of the 400 free relay for a U.S. team that went on to lose the final to France by .02 seconds.
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