Swimming World’s Female Performance of the Year: Katie Ledecky’s 400 and 800 Free

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Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Katie Ledecky was the unanimous choice for Female World Swimmer of the Year, and she wins top female performance of the year as well. For sure, Ledecky’s gold medal-winning effort in the 200 meter free merited consideration here as she out-dueled Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom in one of the best races of the Olympic Games. But it was the 400 and the 800 in which she simply wowed.

Ledecky won gold in the 400 by nearly five seconds over Britain’s Jazz Carlin. Her final time of 3:56.46 obliterated the previous world record—hers, of course—of 3:58.37 from 2014.Five days later, she beat silver medalist Carlin by more than 10 seconds in the 800, registering a time of 8:04.79, two seconds quicker than the world record she had posted last January.

After the 800, Ledecky’s typically-stoic facade cracked. This year’s journey had finally come to an end for the teary-eyed 19-year-old. She’s now on to her next mission—seeking to dominate college swimming as a member of the Stanford Cardinal—but few will soon forget about what Ledecky did in Rio.


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6 years ago

From the records point of view those two races are astounding. They will have long, very long life unless got bettered by Katie herself. She set these “565” goals three years ago and successfully achieved them breaking on the way 7(seven) world records. The “565” formula was very simple – to take 1min from each one hundred meters at 400 and 800 races making them 3:56 and 8:05 respectfully. If one remembers the circumstances of the year 2013 the setting of such goals looked like absurd coming from madman unless drugs are involved. Kudos to coach Bruce Gemmell and Katie Ledecky for such bravery and such hard work on getting dream come true. It explains the emotional breakdown from both Katie and coach Gemmell when the job was finally done. We may have nothing like this in the history of swimming.
So 400 and 800 races were most likely properly awarded, but I would probably emphasize not the times by themselves but the way they were achieved.
In my personal opinion the most amazingly surprising thing that Katie Ledecky accomplished during these three years was her 52.6 split at 4×100 relay. Such versatility from 100 through 1500 is even more above comprehension than her dominance at 400 and 800.

Mark S Schwartz
6 years ago

Speaking of Ledecky and the 400, is there a race video of the entire race or just the one minute clip that NBC posted?

6 years ago