Katie Ledecky is the world’s most dominant swimmer, and the 800m is – quantifiably – her most dominant event.
Ledecky made her Olympic debut at the 2012 London Olympics, where she was the youngest member of the U.S. delegation. It was her first major international competition, but she went on to win gold in the 800m freestyle (her only event), defeating hometown favorite Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain.
The following year, she set her first 800m world record at the 2013 World Championships (8:13.86). She has since broken her own mark four times. Her current world record – 8:04.79 – was set at the 2016 Rio Games.
After winning the event at U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials on Saturday, Ledecky is on track to win a third straight gold medal in the event at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics. No American woman has ever won three straight gold medals in the same individual swimming event at the Olympics.
Her time in Saturday’s final, 8:14.62, didn’t quite make the fastest 25 times ever recorded in the women’s 800m.
It would have, if not for previous iterations of Katie Ledecky. That’s because Ledecky owns the 23 fastest times ever recorded in the event.
No other current swimmer dominates any other long course event the way Ledecky has dominated the women’s 800m freestyle. Here’s a look at swimmers who own the top ten (or more) fastest times in the same event:
23 fastest times: Katie Ledecky – Women’s 800m Free
15 fastest times: Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) – Women’s 50m Butterfly (Non-Olympic Event)
15 fastest times: Adam Peaty (GBR) – Men’s 100m Breaststroke
10 fastest times: Katie Ledecky – Women’s 1500m Freestyle
While Ledecky’s time on Saturday night didn’t break into the top 25, she says she doesn’t let herself get discouraged when her current times seem “slow” in comparison to her previous times.
“I sometimes get frustrated, but I think I’ve also really learned over the past several years how to manage that,” Ledecky said. “I just take it one swim at a time, not comparing myself to my past.”
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