Katie Ledecky shatters world record in 1,500-meter freestyle: “It hurt a lot”
Katie Ledecky is having a great time in her first competitive event of the season at the FINA Swimming World Cup. The star American swimmer set a world record in the 1,500-meter freestyle on Saturday night at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.
“I knew that record was within reach just based on some things I’ve done in training, especially my distance stuff (as it) has felt really good this fall,” Ledecky said. “So I felt locked into the pace.”
The 10-time Olympic medalist — who doesn’t compete in short-course events very often — finished in 15:08.24, taking nearly 10 seconds off the previous record set by Germany’s Sarah Wellbrock (15:18.01) in 2019.
Canada’s Summer McIntosh, who also set a world junior mark when she edged Ledecky in the 400 free on Friday, finished first in the 400 medley in 4:21.49 to lead a Canadian sweep.
“Throughout the entire race I felt really in control and strong so I’m really happy,” she said.
Sydney Pickrem was second in 4:28.45, and Bailey Andison was third in 4:29.36.
McIntosh, a 16-year-old from Toronto, trimmed nearly two seconds off the previous world junior mark set by China’s Shiwen Ye (4:23.33) in 2012.
Ledecky, a Maryland native, took gold ahead of Beatriz Dizotti of Brazil (15:48.82) and Laila Oravsky of Canada, who was third in 16:16.86.
“It’s just so unreal to be a part of something so amazing,” Oravsky said. “That was the fastest 1,500 that was just swum and I was a part of that. It’s crazy.”
Maggie Mac Neil of Canada improved her national record in the women’s 50-meter butterfly, finishing first in 24.75 seconds. American Beata Nelson won the women’s 100 backstroke, and Shaine Casas of the U.S. finished first in the men’s 200-meter medley.
One of the biggest roars from the near-capacity crowd came at Ledecky’s finish. She splashed the water after looking up at the scoreboard to see her world-record time.
“Honestly most of that emotion was just because it hurt a lot,” she said. “When something hurts that much, you want to see a great result like that. It was just mostly happiness. I felt good and I was very pleased with the outcome.”
She returned to the pool a short time later for the 200 free and took silver in 1:52.31 behind Hong Kong’s Siobhan Bernadette Haughey.
“I didn’t have any super type of preparation for this meet,” Ledecky said. “I just wanted to come in and race some international swimmers. These meets (Toronto and next week in Indianapolis) are on North American soil so I just had fun with it.”
Ledecky’s feat comes a little more than a year after she claimed the first-ever gold medal in the women’s 1,500-meter freestyle at the Tokyo Olympics.
“I just tried to enjoy it and soak in every moment,” she told “CBS Mornings” co-host Gayle King after the Olympics.
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Ledecky said she’s already looking forward to the next Summer Games.
“I really hope I have the opportunity to represent Team USA in Paris,” she said. “… I’ll be back with some new goals for 2024.”