BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) - Katie Ledecky claimed her first gold medal of the world championships Sunday, cruising to a dominating win in the women's 400-meter freestyle though she failed to break her own world record.

As expected, the 20-year-old American pulled away on the very first lap and was essentially racing the clock the rest of the way. She finished in 3 minutes, 58.34 seconds - more than 3 seconds ahead of U.S. teammate Leah Smith. China's Li Bingjie took the bronze.

Ledecky has set such a high standard that her time was a bit of a letdown. She finished nearly 2 seconds off the world record (3:56.46) she set at the Rio Olympics.

Of course, Ledecky likely wanted to conserve energy for her second event of the night, swimming on the 4x100 free relay. It's all part of her audacious goal to win six gold medals in Budapest.