Titmus eclipsed the mark set by Summer McIntosh earlier this year and finished 3.35 seconds ahead of silver medallist Katie Ledecky of the United States. New Zealand’s Erika Fairweather edged out McIntosh to grab the bronze.

Ledecky finished the race second in 3:58.73 but McIntosh could only place fourth, with New Zealand’s Erika Fairweather taking third in 3:59.59. The race was one of the most hotly anticipated of the world championships on the opening night in Fukuoka. It pitted Olympic champion Titmus against world record-holder McIntosh and defending world champion Ledecky. It was also the first time that the three had gone head-to-head since Titmus won at the Tokyo Olympics two years ago.

Titmus led the race from start to finish and looked comfortable in breaking McIntosh’s previous benchmark of 3:56.08. She had added a little spice to the build-up by questioning McIntosh’s ability to handle the pressure of the big occasion.

The 16-year-old McIntosh kept pace with Ledecky for much of the race but faded in the closing stages to finish behind Fairweather.

Ledecky was aiming to add to her 19 world titles, already a record for a woman, having finished fastest in the morning heats ahead of Titmus and McIntosh.

According to the reuters, AP