Ledecky smashes own record to win women's 400m freestyle

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The classic American striving of Katie Ledecky

United States' swimmer Katie Ledecky broke her own world record on Sunday on the way to winning the women's 400 meters freestyle gold medal at the Rio Olympics.

SEE MORE: Everything you need to know about the Summer Olympics

Britain's Jazz Carlin took the silver medal, and Leah Smith of the U.S. won bronze.

Ledecky led from start to finish to set a new mark of three minutes, 56.46 seconds, bettering the 3:58.37 she set in Australia two years ago.

RELATED: Katie Ledecky Olympic profile

"It feels really good. I'm pumped. I was so close to breaking it (this morning)," Ledecky said. "I felt good throughout. The swim was almost identical to this morning, but with a bit more pop on the last lap. It's pure happiness."

It was the sixth world record to fall in just two days of competition at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium.

Jazz Carlin took the silver medal on a great night for British swimmers, minutes after Adam Peaty had won gold in the 100 meters breaststroke.

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KAZAN, RUSSIA - AUGUST 05: Katie Ledecky of the United States celebrates winning the gold medal in the Women's 200m Freestyle Final on day twelve of the 16th FINA World Championships at the Kazan Arena on August 5, 2015 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
KAZAN, RUSSIA - AUGUST 05: Katie Ledecky (L) of the United States celebrates winning the gold medal with bronze medallist Missy Franklin of the United States in the Women's 200m Freestyle Final on day twelve of the 16th FINA World Championships at the Kazan Arena on August 5, 2015 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
KAZAN, RUSSIA - AUGUST 05: Katie Ledecky of United States celebrates winning the final of the Women's 200m Freestyle during day twelve of The 16th FINA World Swimming Championships at Kazan Arena on August 05, 2015 in Kazan, Russia (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
US gold medallist Katie Ledecky (C), Italy's silver medallist Federica Pellegrini (R) and US bronze medallist Missy Franklin pose on the podium of the women's 200m freestyle swimming event at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan on August 5, 2015. AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAU (Photo credit should read MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)
KAZAN, RUSSIA - AUGUST 05: Gold medallist Katie Ledecky of the United States sings the national anthem during the medal ceremony for the Women's 200m Freestyle Final on day twelve of the 16th FINA World Championships at the Kazan Arena on August 5, 2015 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
KAZAN, RUSSIA - AUGUST 05: Katie Ledecky of the United States adjusts her blocks prior to the Women's 200m Freestyle Final on day twelve of the 16th FINA World Championships at the Kazan Arena on August 5, 2015 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
US gold medallist Katie Ledecky (C), Italy's silver medallist Federica Pellegrini (R) and US bronze medallist Missy Franklin pose on the podium of the women's 200m freestyle swimming event at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan on August 5, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER NEMENOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)
KAZAN, RUSSIA - AUGUST 05: Katie Ledecky of the United States adjusts her blocks prior to the Women's 200m Freestyle Final on day twelve of the 16th FINA World Championships at the Kazan Arena on August 5, 2015 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
US gold medallist Katie Ledecky poses on the podium of the women's 200m freestyle swimming event at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan on August 5, 2015. AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOPHE SIMON (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/Getty Images)
KAZAN, RUSSIA - AUGUST 05: Katie Ledecky of the United States competes in the Women's 200m Freestyle Final on day twelve of the 16th FINA World Championships at the Kazan Arena on August 5, 2015 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
KAZAN, RUSSIA - AUGUST 05: Katie Ledecky of United States celebrates winning the final of the Women's 200m Freestyle during day twelve of The 16th FINA World Swimming Championships at Kazan Arena on August 05, 2015 in Kazan, Russia (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
KAZAN, RUSSIA - AUGUST 05: Katie Ledecky of United States celebrates winning the final of the Women's 200m Freestyle during day twelve of The 16th FINA World Swimming Championships at Kazan Arena on August 05, 2015 in Kazan, Russia (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
KAZAN, RUSSIA - AUGUST 04: Katie Ledecky of the United States competes in the Women's 200m Freestyle semi finals on day eleven of the 16th FINA World Championships at the Kazan Arena on August 4, 2015 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
USA's Katie Ledecky and USA's Missy Franklin (R) celebrate after the final of the women's 200m freestyle swimming event at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan on August 5, 2015. AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAU (Photo credit should read MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)
KAZAN, RUSSIA - AUGUST 04: Katie Ledecky of the United States dives in for the Women's 200m Freestyle Semi-Finals on day eleven of the 16th FINA World Championships at the Kazan Arena on August 4, 2015 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
KAZAN, RUSSIA - AUGUST 04: Katie Ledecky of the United States competes on the way to winning the gold medal in a new world record of 15.25:48 in the Women's 1500m Freestyle Final on day eleven of the 16th FINA World Championships at the Kazan Arena on August 4, 2015 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
PICTURE TAKEN WITH AN UNDERWATER CAMERA - USA's Katie Ledecky and Russia's Veronika Popova (R) compete in the semi-finals of the women's 200m freestyle swimming event at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan on August 4, 2015. AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS XAVIER MARIT (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS XAVIER MARIT/AFP/Getty Images)
KAZAN, RUSSIA - AUGUST 04: Katie Ledecky of the United States smiles after the Women's 200m Freestyle Semi-Finals on day eleven of the 16th FINA World Championships at the Kazan Arena on August 4, 2015 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
KAZAN, RUSSIA - AUGUST 04: Missy Franklin (L) of the United States celebrates with Katie Ledecky of the United States after the Women's 200m Freestyle Semi-Finals on day eleven of the 16th FINA World Championships at the Kazan Arena on August 4, 2015 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
US Katie Ledecky, gold, poses during the podium ceremony of the women's 1500m freestyle swimming event at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan on August 4, 2015. AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAU (Photo credit should read MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)
KAZAN, RUSSIA - AUGUST 04: Katie Ledecky of the United States competes on the way to winning the gold medal in a new world record of 15.25:48 in the Women's 1500m Freestyle Final on day eleven of the 16th FINA World Championships at the Kazan Arena on August 4, 2015 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
KAZAN, RUSSIA - AUGUST 04: Gold medallist Katie Ledecky of the United States poses with silver medallist Lauren Boyle of New Zealand and bronze medallist Boglarka Kapas of Hungary during the medal ceremony for the Women's 1500m Freestyle Final on day eleven of the 16th FINA World Championships at the Kazan Arena on August 4, 2015 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
2016 Rio Olympics - Swimming - Final - Women's 800m Freestyle Final - Olympic Aquatics Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 12/08/2016. Katie Ledecky (USA) of USA reacts after winning and setting a new world record. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.
2016 Rio Olympics - Swimming - Final - Women's 800m Freestyle Final - Olympic Aquatics Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 12/08/2016. Katie Ledecky (USA) of USA competes. REUTERS/Jeremy Lee FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.
USA's Katie Ledecky competes to break the world record in the Women's 800m Freestyle Final during the swimming event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 12, 2016. / AFP / Martin BUREAU (Photo credit should read MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)
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Leah Smith of the United States won bronze.

Ledecky's winning margin of 4.77 seconds underlined her total dominance of the event.

The 19-year-old is also overwhelming favorite to take the 800 meters freestyle, in which she won gold in London four years ago, and is also competing in the 200m freestyle.

RELATED: Women's 400m freestyle swimming Olympic profile

If she wins all three, Ledecky - who also won a silver in the 4x100 freestyle relay on Saturday - will be the first women to achieve the feat since American Debbie Meyer at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968.

The 2012 London champion Camille Muffat of France was among 10 people killed in March 2015 when two helicopters collided in a remote region of Argentina during the filming of a reality TV show.

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