League of Olympic Swim Legends: Katie Ledecky Tops The 1500m Freestyle Podium With Evans & Gould

Katie Ledecky - Photo Courtesy: SwimSketch (from an image by Patrick B. Kraemer)

What would have unfolded had Tokyo 2020 gone ahead as planned this week – and where would it all have fit in the thread of Olympic swim legends and pioneers like Katie Ledecky, Janet Evans, Shane GouldTo mark the eight days over which the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games would have unfolded had the coronavirus pandemic not forced postponement, the team at Swimming World is filling the void with a Virtual Vision Form Guide and League of Olympic Swimming Legends.

Day 4, event 4 – A Soaring Distance-Freestyle Sorority …

Katie Ledecky of the United States of America (USA) reacts after winning in the women’s 800m Freestyle Final during the Swimming events at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships, Gwangju, South Korea, 27 July 2019.

Katie Ledecky – Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

Women’s 1500m Freestyle

The Podium

  1. Katie Ledecky (USA);
  2. Janet Evans (USA)
  3. Shane Gould (AUS)

The Other Finalists (Listed Alphabetically):

  • Lotte Friis (DEN)
  • Ragnhild Hveger (DEN)
  • Debbie Meyer (USA)
  • Jenny Turrall (AUS)
  • Kate Ziegler (USA)
  •  Our Lane 9* place goes to the first woman to retain the World 1500m freestyle title:
  • Hannah Stockbauer (GER)

* – in our series, we will use Lane 9 to add an athlete whose story reflects extraordinary situations of different kinds, including being deprived by those who fell foul of anti-doping rules or by political decisions or, indeed the Olympic program, as well as simple facts such as “he/she was the only other title winner who claimed gold in a WR but didn’t make out top 8 on points”

All-Time Battle Of Olympic Swim Legends Goes To Katie Ledecky


Janet Evans – Photo Courtesy: International Swimming Hall of Fame


Shane Gould – Photo Courtesy: Kevin Berry/Swimming World Archive

After a long wait, the longest event on the women’s schedule will match that of the men. The fact that this decision didn’t arrive until 36 years after athletics gave women the opportunity to race the marathon is nonsensical. However, as the cliché goes, the addition to the program is better late than never.

Katie Ledecky was the runaway gold medalist, leaving a pair of Hall of Famers in her wake. A three-time world champion over 1500 meters, Ledecky’s dominance is best told through her times. In addition to boasting the 10-fastest performances in history, Katie Ledecky holds the World record of 15:20.48, which sits 18 seconds ahead of the next-fastest performer in history.

As the world-record in the 1500 freestyle for 20 years, from 1987-2007, Janet Evans easily claimed the silver medal behind Ledecky. The American, who earlier won Legends gold in the 400 freestyle, was the first woman to break the 16-minute barrier, and her best time of 15:52.10 still holds up solidly against today’s competition.

Completing the podium was Australian Shane Gould, the first woman to eclipse the 17-minute barrier and who set two world records during her short career. Gould, the first athlete and only woman to win five medals in a single Olympiad, set the second of those standards in early 1973. Her retirement came not long after and prompted what-if questions had Gould not departed the sport while on top.

The rest of this story must wait until Tokyo202ne…

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