800m Free World Championship Preview: Is Sub 8:10 Possible?


  • Day 7, Saturday, August 8th
  • 2013 World Champion: Katie Ledecky, USA – 8:13.86 (SEE RACE VIDEO ABOVE)
  • 2013 Silver Medalist: Lotte Friis, DEN – 8:16.32
  • 2013 Bronze Medalist: Lauren Boyle, NZL – 8:18.58

From 2005 to 2007, the women’s 800 freestyle saw a seven second drop in world championship winning times, going from an 8:25 to 8:18. Since then the event has slowly gotten faster, with a 8:15 in 2009, Rebecca Adlington breaking Janet Evans’ long standing world record in 2008 going 8:14, and then Katie Ledecky breaking that record at the 2013 worlds in 8:13.86.

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 12.02.21 AM

The event has come a long way, and now a sub-8:20 performance will be required to stand on the medal podium. Ledecky has since lowered that mark all the way down to 8:11.00. Pushing the event below the 8:10 mark seems pretty out there, but with Ledecky you never know.

Take a look at the top times from around the world this year:

2014-2015 LCM Women 800 Free

View Top 26»

Katie Ledecky surprised everyone when she won the 2012 Olympic gold medal in the 800 free, defeating defending champion and heavy favourite Rebecca Adlington on her home soil. Ever since that performance, Ledecky has been in control of the event. She broke the world record (that belonged to Adlington) at the 2013 championships and then broke it again last summer. She is currently the world record holder, Olympic, world, and Pan Pacific champion. Ledecky will be in the hunt for another world record in the event in Kazan, and no one would doubt her ability to do so. After taking 2.86 off the record last year, seeing her take the record down from 8:11.00 to a sub-8:10 is certainly a possibility. It is hard to believe anyone will challenge Ledecky, but there will be a good race for the other medals.

Jazmin Carlin is coming off a Commonwealth title and a European title in the event last year and was the 2nd fastest women in the world going 8:15.54. She sits 3rd in the rankings this year and is a good bet for a silver medal. Lauren Boyle of New Zealand has been a top performer in the event recently, winning bronze at the 2013 worlds and then a pair of silvers last year at the Commonwealth Games (finishing behind Carlin) and the Pan Pacific Championships (finishing behind Ledecky).

Mireia Belmonte Garcia of Spain has been a top performer on the international stage in a variety of events. She was 5th in the 800 at the 2013 worlds and won silver at the 2014 Euro’s. She has seen more success in short course racing being the 800 world record holder (7:59.34) and 2014 short course world champion. She will look to back up her short course world title this summer with a top finish.

At the 2013 worlds, Lotte Friis was the one woman who could challenge Katie Ledecky. She went with her for the majority of the race in both the 800 and the 1500 freestyles, before Ledecky eventually left her behind. She was able to swim an 8:16.32 in 2013, but hasn’t shown that form since. She is ranked 7th in the world this year, and is coming off a strong performance at the Santa Clara Pro Swim.

Jessica Ashwood of Australia has had strong showings the last two years in the 800. After a 10th place finish at the 2013 worlds, she was ranked 4th in the world in 2014 and currently sits 2nd in 2015. Despite her top world rankings, she has had trouble putting her best performances together at championship meets, finishing 6th at the Commonwealth Games and 10th at the Pan Pacs, when her personal best times would’ve had her on the medal podium. We’ll see if she can turn that around this summer and have a good showing at the world championships.

Boglarka Kapas of Hungary has performed consistently well the last two summers, with a 4th place finish at the 2013 worlds and a bronze at the 2014 European Championships. She sits 5th in the world this year and looks good for another strong showing this summer.

Becca Mann of the United States had a breakthrough summer last year, finishing 4th at the Pan Pacific Championships in the 800 free and qualifying for the world championships. She is ranked 6th in the world this year and will look to final at her first world championships.

My darkhorse pick is German freestyler Sarah Kohler. After finishing 15th at the 2013 worlds and a 29th ranked 8:30.94 in 2014, she is now 9th in the world for 2015 and will make a push for a place in the final in Kazan. Others to watch for in this event include Leonie Antonia Beck of Germany, Sharon van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands, and Coralie Balmy of France.


  1. Katie Ledecky, USA                              8:09.79
  2. Jazmin Carlin, GBR                               8:14.77
  3. Lauren Boyle, NZL                               8:17.65
  4. Mireia Belmonte Garcia, ESP            8:19.25
  5. Lotte Friis, DEN                                    8:19.84
  6. Jessica Ashwood, AUS                        8:20.35
  7. Boglarka Kapas, HUN                         8:22.45
  8. Becca Mann, USA                                 8:22.75

Darkhorse: Sarah Kohler, GER            8:26.27


Day 1, Sun August 2nd (Day 9)

Day 2, Mon August 3rd (Day 10)

  • M 100 Breast
  • W 100 Fly
  • M 50 Fly
  • W 200 IM

Day 3, Tue August 4th (Day 11)

  • M 200 Free
  • W 100 Back
  • W 1500 Free
  • M 100 Back
  • W 100 Breast

Day 4, Wed August 5th (Day 12)

Day 5, Thur August 6th (Day 13)

  • M 200 IM
  • M 100 Free
  • W 200 Fly
  • W 50 Back
  • W 4×200 Free Relay

Day 6, Fri August 7th (Day 14)

  • W 100 Free
  • M 200 Back
  • W 200 Breast
  • M 200 Breast
  • M 4×200 Free Relay

Day 7, Sat August 8th (Day 15)

  • W 50 Fly
  • M 50 Free
  • W 200 Back
  • M 100 Fly
  • W 800 Free
  • MIXED 4×100 Free Relay

Day 8, Sun August 9th (Day 16)

  • M 50 Back
  • W 50 Breast
  • M 400 IM
  • W 50 Free
  • M 1500 Free
  • W 400 IM
  • M 4×100 Medley Relay
  • W 4×100 Medley Relay

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8 years ago

If to construct a hypothetical race of Ledecky’s best start, best pace and best finish taken from her 800-1500 best races then one will come up with estimates like 8:09.3 – 8:09.7. Will she come up with something faster? Possible. But she has a problem to get into steady pace after 500m.

Reply to  Yozhik
8 years ago

But as has been mentioned before, the best 8 splits of her 1500 actually totalled 8:10.99 so she has beaten 8:11.00!

8 years ago

I wouldn’t bet against Katie Ledecky to do anything.

8 years ago

I think Ledecky will win, but I don’t think she’ll break 8:10. As good as she was in 2013 at worlds, she now has three rounds of the 200 free on top of her schedule, and she’ll be even more fatigued by the time the 800 rolls around on the second to last day. She has enough of a lead on the rest of the field to win easily, but I think she’ll break 8:10 when she has an easier schedule in Rio without the 1500.

Jim C
Reply to  Sparkle
8 years ago

If Ledecky has a fairly easy race in the 1500 she might be less tired.

Reply to  Sparkle
8 years ago

Ledecky will have 4 rounds of the 200 : the forth being the 800 free relay !!! heavy schedule she has in Kazan . So me prediction would be that she approaches very closely the 8.10 barrier .

Reply to  Sparkle
8 years ago

I watched her live in Austin in January go 8:11.21 NOT tapered I think she could go under 8:10 tapered

8 years ago

Could Ledecky take the 800WR below 8.10 ? Very possible. Doing so in Kazan ? A highly plausible scenario but certainly no “given thing”.

As to the more pertinent issue of the medals; we can essentially repeat the story of the 400. Ledecky’s current “gap” on the field is such that at “sub-optimal” she should still win with a degree of comfort. Ditto for the minor coin where Carlin & Boyle should again be favoured.

Lane Four
8 years ago

Is a sub-8:10 possible? One word. YES.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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