Caeleb Dressel grabbed a hat-trick of gold medals and normal service was resumed for Katie Ledecky on a great day for American swimmers at the World Aquatic Championships.

Dressel took his medal tally for the competition to seven - all but one being gold - and also played his part in the USA setting a world record in the 4x100m mixed freestyle relay in Gwangju on Saturday.

The 22-year-old was crowned 50m freestyle champion with a championship-record time of 21.04 seconds, as Bruno Fratus of Brazil and Kristian Gkolomeev of Greece shared the silver medal.

Dressel was too quick for his rivals again in the 100m butterfly final, missing out on bettering the new world record he set on Friday, but taking gold in a time of 49.66.

Hungary's Kristof Milak could only finish fourth three days on from setting a new world record in the 200m fly, with Andrei Minakov taking silver for Russia and Chad le Clos of South Africa earning bronze.

Dressel, Simone Manuel, Mallory Comerford and Zach Apple then combined to put their names in the record books with a world-record relay victory, triumphing in 3:19.40 ahead of Australia and France. 

Ledecky withdrew from the 200m freestyle due to illness after having to settle for 400m freestyle silver, but the 22-year-old great retained her 800m freestyle crown on the penultimate day of competition in South Korea.

Regan Smith also did team USA proud, winning the 200m backstroke title on a day in which Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom was the only non-American gold-medal winner - touching the wall first in the 50m butterfly.

Caeleb Dressel defended his 100 metres freestyle gold with a superb performance at the World Aquatics Championship on Thursday.

The American held off Australia's Kyle Chalmers to win in a time of 49.96 seconds - the fastest by a swimmer in a textile suit and just 0.05 off the world record.

The 22-year-old, who won seven gold medals at the championships in 2017, claimed the 50m freestyle earlier this week and was part of the United States' victorious 4x100m freestyle relay team.

"It's very exciting," he said. "I know I was just off the world record. Really the goal was just to swim the best race that I could.

"I am extremely happy with it and it took 100 per cent effort and I had someone right there on my tail for me to race, and kind of shut off thinking about the race and just think about racing.

"It helped a lot having Kyle right there. To see it pop up on the scoreboard was pretty special."

Thursday saw a return to action in Gwangju for Katie Ledecky, who withdrew from the 200m freestyle due to illness this week.

The five-time Olympic champion produced a strong swim but could not drive USA to victory in the 4x200m relay, as Emma McKeon's storming last leg saw Australia claim gold in a world-record time of 7:41.50. The US quartet took silver.

Daiya Seto, who came second in the 200m butterfly on Wednesday as Kristof Milak broke Michael Phelps' world record, won Japan's first gold in the men's 200m individual medley ahead of Jeremy Desplanches and defending champion Chase Kalisz.

American Olivia Smoliga sprang a surprise, winning the women's 50m backstroke final in 27.33, ahead of 2017 champion Etiene Medeiros.

The 24-year-old Smoliga is already preparing for a challenge at next year's Olympics after benefiting from some simple lifestyle changes.

"I'm just glad it's all coming together going into 2020," she said. "I'm just eating a little bit healthier, little things like that. Not eating fast food or staying up late."

Hungarian Boglarka Kapas produced the shock of the day, though, winning the women's 200m butterfly final in a race in which the top six were separated by just 0.9 seconds.

Five-time Olympic champion Katie Ledecky has withdrawn from the 200-metre freestyle at the World Aquatic Championships due to illness.

USA Swimming made the announcement just hours before the first heats of the event in Gwangju, South Korea on Tuesday.

"A decision has been made by Team USA in consultation with Katie, her coach and the team's medical staff for her to withdraw from the 200m freestyle event on medical grounds," National team managing director Lindsay Mintenko said in a statement. "The team will determine her participation in this evening's 1500m final later in the day.

"Katie has not been feeling well since arriving to Gwangju on July 17, and these precautionary measures are being taken to ensure her well-being and proper recovery, and to allow her to focus her energy on an abbreviated schedule."

Ledecky is coming off a runner-up finish in the 400m freestyle on Sunday. It was her first loss in that event at a major international meet as she was outpaced in the last 50m.

The 22-year-old – who has 14 world championship gold medals – had never removed herself from an event at a meet of this calibre since she started on the world stage eight years ago.

Ledecky went on to compete in the 1500m freestyle preliminary heats on Monday and recorded the fastest time by 2.69 seconds to qualify for Tuesday's final.

If she had not withdrawn from the 200m event, Ledecky would have had to swim in both the 1500m freestyle final and 200m freestyle semi-finals within almost an hour of each other.

 

Katie Ledecky admitted defeat "stings a little" after Australian Ariarne Titmus scuppered her bid for 400 metres freestyle glory at the World Aquatics Championships in South Korea.

American 22-year-old Ledecky had won three world titles in the event, and is the reigning Olympic champion, but on this occasion 18-year-old Titmus surged past her on the final length to take gold.

Titmus touched in three minutes, 58.76 seconds and played down her success, calling Ledecky "the greatest ever" and predicting "a real battle" between the pair at the Tokyo Olympics next year.

That could prove one of the highlights of the 2020 Games pool programme, with Ledecky needing to put together a more complete swim than she produced in Gwangju.

Ledecky claimed her legs felt "just dead" in the closing metres, saying on the Olympic Channel: "Obviously Ariarne took advantage of that and had a heck of a swim.

"Obviously this stings a little, it's unfamiliar and different, and I need to rebound from this and get my fight back."

American Ledecky has 14 world golds in all, and until Sunday's jarring setback had only failed to triumph at the championships in one previous final when she took 200m silver in Budapest two years ago.

Great Britain's Adam Peaty broke his own world record in the 100m breaststroke semi-finals, becoming the first man to push through the 57-second barrier as he clocked 56.88secs.

"Obviously I've been chasing that for years now," said Peaty.

Australian Mack Horton refused to join champion Sun Yang on the medal podium following the men's 400m freestyle.

Horton took silver in 3:43.17 as China's Sun touched first with 3:42.44 to land gold in the event for the fourth successive games.

Sun served a short doping ban in 2014. He is currently the subject of an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency [WADA] to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, with WADA questioning a decision by swimming's global governing body FINA not to punish Sun over allegations stemming from a visit by out-of-competition testers in September 2018.

Sun denies all wrongdoing and has requested a public hearing.

Horton said of losing to Sun: "I think you know what the rivalry is like. I don't think I need to say anything, I think his actions and how it's been handled speaks louder than anything I'll ever say."

The United States won the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay in a championship record of 3:09.06, with Russia taking silver and Australia bronze.

Australia took gold in the women's 4x100m free, however, finishing ahead of the United States and Canada.

Australian teenager Ariarne Titmus ended the great Katie Ledecky's perfect 400 metre freestyle record at major international events to take gold at the World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju on Sunday.

American Ledecky had only failed to be crowned world champion on one occasion when she had to settle for 200m silver in Budapest two years ago.

The 22-year-old was unable to add to her tally of 14 World Championships golds in South Korea, though, as Titmus passed her with only a few metres to go and held on dethrone Ledecky with a magnificent swim.

Titmus touched the wall in 3:58.76 to claim her maiden long-course world title.

"I knew that I properly had that in me." said the 18-year-old Tasmanian.

Great Britain's Adam Peaty smashed his own 100m breaststroke world record by clocking 56.88 in the semi-finals.

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