Ledecky sizzles in 1,500m freestyle in Santa Clara

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San Francisco (AFP)

World record-holder Katie Ledecky blazed to victory in the women's 1,500m freestyle at the Santa Clara Pro Swim on Thursday in 15min 35.65sec -- the fifth-fastest time in history.

It's also the fifth-fastest time ever by Ledecky herself -- who now owns the six fastest swims in the event.

Ledecky hadn't raced a 1,500m free -- which is not an Olympic event for women -- since setting the world record of 15:25.48 at the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

"I wanted to try to put together a good swim. I was maybe a little aggressive on the first 50, but I was able to settle into a pretty good rhythm and pick it up the last 100m," said the American, who was nearly 40 seconds clear of the field.

Chile's Kristel Kobrich was second in 16:12.89.

"I wasn’t able to bring in my legs in the middle of the race the way I wanted to, but that's where I am with training right now. I was pretty surprised with the time based on how it felt. It didn’t feel as fast as a 15:35, but I’m happy with that," said Ledecky, who won four gold medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics and is now targetting the 2017 World Championships in Budapest in July.