Olympics: Katie Ledecky Starts March Toward History in 800 Freestyle

Jul 29, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Katie Ledecky (USA) walks poolside after finishing second in the women's 4x200m freestyle relay during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Grace Hollars-USA TODAY Sports

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Olympics: Katie Ledecky Starts March Toward History in 800 Freestyle

There is a special club in the sport, one of high exclusivity. Three members to be exact: Dawn Fraser. Krisztina Egerszegi. Michael Phelps. For a sport that has been part of the Olympic Games for more than a century, the limited membership details just how difficult it is to be awarded a key to the lounge.

How does one receive an invitation? Win the same event at three consecutive Olympics.

The two-time defending champion in the 800-meter freestyle, the United States’ Katie Ledecky took the first of two steps toward joining the Three-Peat Club at the Tokyo Games on Thursday night. With a time of 8:15.67 in the preliminaries, Ledecky comfortably claimed the top seed for the final. In addition to seeking a third gold medal in the event, Ledecky will try to win her fourth medal of the Games.

If Ledecky can pull off the trifecta, it will mean a little more history in a career defined by historical achievements. She won her first title in the 800 freestyle as a rising 15-year-old at the 2012 Games in London. Four years later, in Rio de Janeiro, she produced what might be the greatest performance of her career, a world record of 8:04.79. Now, she’s looking for another gold in Tokyo.

Fraser was the first athlete to win the same event at three straight Games, doing so in the 100 freestyle in 1956, 1960 and 1964 – the last title captured in Tokyo. Egerszegi’s triple arrived in the 200 backstroke in 1988, 1992 and 1996 while Phelps pulled the feat in two events. The 28-time Olympic medalist won the 100 butterfly from 2004-2012 and mined gold in the 200 individual medley from 2004-2016. Yes, that’s four consecutive Olympiads for Phelps in the 200 I.M.

Ledecky will be joined in the final by 15-year-old countrywoman Katie Grimes, who was second in prelims in 8:17.05. Grimes was the runnerup at the United States Olympic Trials and the same age as Ledecky when she won her first Olympic title. Italy’s Simona Quadarella (8:17.32) and Germany’s Sarah Kohler (8:17.33) will be seeded third and fourth. Kohler won the bronze medal in the 1500 freestyle.


Women’s 800 Freestyle

World Record: Katie Ledecky, United States, 8:04.79 (2016)
Olympic Record: Katie Ledecky, United States, 8:04.79 (2016)

1. Katie Ledecky (United States) 8:15.67
2. Katie Grimes (United States) 8:17.05
3. Simona Quadarella (Italy) 8:17.32
4. Sarah Kohler (Germany) 8:17.33
5. Anastasiia Kirpichnikova (Russia) 8:18.77
6. Ariarne Titmus (Australia) 8:18.99
7. Kiah Melverton (Australia) 8:20.45
8. Wang Jianjiahe (China) 8:20.58

1 comment

  1. avatar

    Without a travesty, Dawn Fraser could have made it 4 in 1968!

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