Ledecky smashes record in 800m to take freestyle treble

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RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Katie Ledecky of the United States destroyed the field in the 800 meters freestyle on Friday, breaking her own world record to complete a rare Olympic swimming treble.

Ledecky led from the start and inexorably stretched out the gap over her opponents to finish in eight minutes, 4.79 seconds, beating her previous mark of 8:06.68 set in Austin, Texas in January.

Britain's Jazz Carlin won her second silver medal in 8:16.17, and Boglarka Kapas of Hungary took the bronze.

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

Ledecky, defending Olympic champion at the distance, added to her golds earlier in the week in the 200 and 400 freestyle and the 4x200 freestyle relay, plus a silver in the 4x100 relay.

The only previous woman to win the 200, 400 and 800 freestyle at the same Games was American Debbie Meyer in 1968.

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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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Ledecky sliced 1.89 seconds off her own record in the longest event of the women's swimming program.

It was the seventh world swimming record of the Rio Games, and the second by Ledecky, who achieved a similar feat in winning the 400 freestyle.

Since winning the 800 in London four years ago, she has been invincible, and anything but a victory for the 19-year-old would have been one of the biggest shocks of the Games.

Carlin and Kapas fought a dogged struggle for second, with Spain's Mireia Belmonte Garcia challenging them for much of the way.

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