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Katie Ledecky withdraws from 2 events at world swimming championships for medical reasons; Adam Peaty, Caeleb Dressel win

GWANGJU, SOUTH KOREA — Katie Ledecky withdrew from the 200-meter freestyle preliminaries and the 1,500 free final Tuesday at the world swimming championships because of illness.

Her coach Greg Meehan said doctors were assessing Ledecky, but had no official diagnosis.

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“She woke up this morning and she's not feeling well at all,” he said. “I'm hopeful that we see her racing again this week.”

The eight-day meet ends Sunday.

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Shortly after Meehan spoke to reporters came word that Ledecky was out of the evening's 1,500 free final.

Ledecky was the fastest qualifier for the grueling event in 15 minutes, 48.90 seconds — 2.68 seconds faster than the next quickest swimmer. But she hasn't been in the pool since Monday's prelims.

U.S. national team managing director Lindsay Mintenko said Ledecky hasn't been feeling well since she arrived in Gwangju on July 17.

Ledecky had been scheduled to swim in Tuesday's morning heats of the 200 free, one of the showcase events in the pool.

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It would have been a rematch between her and Australia's Ariarne Titmus, who stunned Ledecky to win the 400 freestyle final on Sunday. The event also includes Federica Pellegrini of Italy, Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden and Penny Oleksiak of Canada.

Also dropping out of the 200 free were Australia's Emma McKeon and Canada's Taylor Ruck.

McKeon was reported to not be feeling well, while Ruck instead wants to focus on her remaining events.

“The three girls that pulled out are probably my top three challenges, so it's a little bit easier now,” Titmus said. “But Pellegrini's still in there, Sarah's still in there, so it's still a really tough challenge.”

Sjostrom advanced to the semifinals with the fastest qualifying time of 1:55.14.

Meehan said Ledecky's illness was not an excuse for her second-place finish in the 400.

“We’re heartbroken for her because she really had come in in a great position,” Meehan said, “and hopefully we get to see that at some point this week.”

Also Monday night, Adam Peaty became the first man to win a third 100-meter breaststroke title. Katinka Hosszu of Hungary also added more gold to her collection.

Peaty claimed the title in 57.14 seconds, a night after he became the first man to break 57 seconds in the semifinals. The British swimmer was under his own world-record pace at the turn before coming home a full body-length in front and 1.32 seconds ahead of teammate James Wilby.

In the semis, Peaty was timed in 56.88. He's also the current Olympic champion.

Britain's Adam Peaty (R) shakes hands with China's Yan Zibei after winning the final of the men's 100m breaststroke event during the swimming competition at the 2019 World Championships at Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center in Gwangju, South Korea, on July 22, 2019.
Britain's Adam Peaty (R) shakes hands with China's Yan Zibei after winning the final of the men's 100m breaststroke event during the swimming competition at the 2019 World Championships at Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center in Gwangju, South Korea, on July 22, 2019. (ED JONES/Getty)

“That'll fuel me for next year because I know how bad I want to clear 56 even faster now,” Peaty said. “I know exactly how to do it but I've obviously run out of opportunities here.”

Wilby touched in 58.46. Yan Zibei of China was third in 58.63.

Hosszu extended her dominance in the women's 200 individual medley, claiming her record fourth title. That's the same number of times she's won the 400 IM.

“It might seem just another gold medal but for me it's really special to be here and be able to win,” said Hosszu, who last year filed for divorce from her husband and training partner. “It's been a tough journey.”

Nicknamed “The Iron Lady” for her relentless workload, Hosszu won in 2 minutes, 7.53 seconds.

Ye Shiwen of China finished 1.07 seconds back in second. Sydney Pickrem of Canada took bronze.

Canada's Margaret MacNeil, a 19-year-old competing in her biggest international meet so far, upset Sarah Sjostrom in the women's 100 butterfly, an event the Swede had won four times.

“I was really hoping just to get on the podium,” MacNeil said, “but getting a gold is just unbelievable.”

Sjostrom took it out strong, dipping under her world-record pace on the first lap, while MacNeil was in fifth.

But MacNeil roared back with the fastest closing lap — 29.06 — of the eight-woman final and touched first in 55.83.

Sjostrom was second in 56.22, denied a record fifth title in the 100 fly. Emma McKeon of Australia earned bronze in 56.61.

“Obviously, I would be more happy with a gold medal,” Sjostrom said.

After receiving their medals, the three women gathered on the top podium spot and raised their palms to the crowd, displaying a message to ailing 19-year-old Japanese swimmer Rikako Ikee.

“Rikako never give up” it read, with hearts decorating their palms. Sjostrom came up with the idea.

Ikee announced in February that she has leukemia. She was the world junior champion in the 100 fly and had the fastest time in the world last year. She is aiming to return in time to compete in the Tokyo Olympics.

“We're hoping this will show that we're supporting her and we're here if she needs anything,” said MacNeil, who swims at Michigan.

Gold medalist Caeleb Dressel of the United States stands on the podium for the national anthem during the medal ceremony for the Men's 50m Butterfly Final on day two of the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships at Nambu International Aquatics Centre on July 22, 2019 in Gwangju, South Korea.
Gold medalist Caeleb Dressel of the United States stands on the podium for the national anthem during the medal ceremony for the Men's 50m Butterfly Final on day two of the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships at Nambu International Aquatics Centre on July 22, 2019 in Gwangju, South Korea. (Clive Rose/Getty)

The United States won its first-ever gold in the men's 50 fly, a non-Olympic event. Caeleb Dressel's time of 22.35 set a championship record and earned him a ninth career world title.

Two years ago, Dressel won seven golds to equal Michael Phelps' record at a single worlds. The 50 fly was the only event Dressel failed to win in Budapest.

Dressel tied a bandana belonging to a former high school mentor who died on the ribbon that was placed around his neck as a way to carry her memory with him.

“That's faster than two years ago and a better place than two years ago,” Dressel said. “It's good, good for Team USA and I'm glad I can be a part of keeping that ball rolling.”

China's Sun Yang was back in the pool for the 200 freestyle semifinals a night after winning the 400 free. He qualified second-fastest behind Clyde Lewis of Australia. The final is Tuesday night.

Earlier Monday, FINA’s executive board met in Gwangju to discuss Mack Horton’s podium protest against Sun and decided to send a warning letter to Swimming Australia and to Horton.

“While FINA respects the principle of freedom of speech, it has to be conducted in the right context,” the board said in a statement.

Horton refused to take his spot on the medals stand or shake Sun’s hand after finishing second to the Chinese star in the 400 free. The Aussie swimmer is angry that Sun, who served a three-month doping suspension in 2014, is being allowed to compete in Gwangju before he faces a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing in September that could potentially end his career.

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