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1ST LEAD Ledecky cruises through in Rio, Efimova enters the scene By Derek Wilson, dpa

Europe
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Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - World champion Katie Ledecky had swimming fans on their feet in the heats of the women‘s 400-metre freestyle at the Olympics Sunday as she narrowly missed her own world record but the crowd was less appreciative of Russian Yulia Efimova.

Ledecky reached the 300-metre point 0.37 seconds behind her 2014 world record and when she turned for the last time, had cut that to just three hundredths.

In the end she touched the final wall in 3 minutes 58.71 seconds, 34 hundredths behind. Nonetheless, she will be firm favourite to claim the first of potentially three individual golds of the Games in the final later Sunday as she to pped the heats 4 seconds clear of Britain‘s Jazz Carlin.

And Ledecky did have the consolation of taking the Olympic record which had been set by France‘s Camille Muffat at London 2012.

The controversial Efimova, who has twice been banned for doping, came back on Jamaica‘s Alia Atkinson to win her heat in the women‘s 100m breaststroke and progress second overall behind American Lilly King. She was booed by many in the crowd up on leaving the pool.

"I don‘t know what to say," Efimova said of her late inclusion in the Games after winning a case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport last week so stop the International Olympic Committee preventing her participation over her previous doping offences.

"It was crazy the last year and a half, I didn‘t understand what was going on. I‘m just happy to be here and ready to race."

In the women‘s 100m backstroke, American Kathleen Baker and Australian Emily Seebohm reached the semi-finals first and second having each dipped under the 59-second mark. The event will have a new champion as 2012 winner Missy Franklin failed to survive the US trials.

And there will also be a new winner in the men‘s 200m freestyle as French title holder Yannick Agnel missed out in 19th, two tenths shy of qualifying, to continue his run of poor form since the 2013 worlds. Sun Yang, Paul Biedermann and Chad le Clos topped the rankings with event 2015 world champion James Guy tied for fifth.

Australian backstroke world champion Mitch Larkin was beaten down to third in the rankings for the men‘s 100m semi-finals behind France‘s Camille Lacourt, the only swimmer to break 53 seconds, and China‘s Xu Jiayu.

And in relay action, Russia topped the timesheets ahead of the US and Australia in the men‘s 4x100m freestyle. Brazil also delighted homefans by qualifying joint fifth while China endured disappointment as they were disqualified.

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