Katie Ledecky: “I Was So Relaxed” In 1500 Freestyle World Record Swim (SW Radio)

Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr

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Not many people can break a world record – much less beat their own personal best – by swimming easy for two-thirds of the race and barely picking up the pace for the remainder of the swim. But Katie Ledecky did that in her 1500 freestyle prelim swim at the FINA world championships, posting a 15:27.71 to break her world record by 65 hundredths of a second.

“I was barely even focusing on this morning’s swim,” she said after the race. “Breaking that record is a testament to the work I’ve put in. I’m in quite a bit of shock right now.”

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Coach Bruce Gemmell told Ledecky to swim 900 meters easy, then increase the pace for the next 300 meters. For the final 300 meters, Ledecky could choose the pace she wanted to hold.

“It did feel pretty easy,” she said with a chuckle. “I wasn’t kicking much.”

The lack of a kick was the major surprise element of the world record swim. Ledecky is known for her aggressive kick in all of her races, but today she barely created any whitewater behind her as she stayed in front of her record pace throughout.

The strategy behind the pace of the swim, Ledecky said, was to conserve energy for her tough double tomorrow night. About 20 minutes after the 1500 freestyle final – in which she’s 26 seconds ahead of second seed Lotte Friis of Denmark – Ledecky is expected to be in one of the two semifinal heats of the 200 freestyle. The goal in the 200 free semis will be to place in the top eight, which Ledecky knows will be a tough assignment.

Ledecky said she will see how things feel in tomorrow’s 1500 free final. She would like to break the world record again while holding a similar pace with the same kind of energy output.

Ledecky has said that 2015 has been one of the best years of training she’s put in, and she gave a lot of credit for her world record to teammate Andrew Gemmell, who she called “the fastest puller in the world.” The two race a lot in pulling sets, which uses paddles on the hands and a pull buoy between the legs to eliminate the kick.

Ledecky’s world record count now stands at eight, and she admitted that she was extra proud of the swim.

“It’s probably one of the coolest world records I’ve ever broken,” she said.


  1. Mary-Helen Hopkins

    She’s such a phenom! Maybe she’s actually an alien who walks (swims) amongst us! Congrats to her on this amazing accomplishment!

    • Linda Marvin

      Read it this morning. She is a beast

  2. Helen Thornton

    With little or no kick need to look at that stroke rate Aisha !

  3. Jon Hawton

    I wished I could be that relaxed and swim so fast