Blueseventy Swim of the Week: Katie Ledecky’s 1000 Free By The Numbers


Disclaimer: BlueSeventy Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The BlueSeventy Swim is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.

While the weekend was chock full of huge swims between the Duel in the Pool, both Winter Junior National Championships and the Nation’s Capital Invite, there’s still one swim that’s head and shoulders above the rest.

Seemingly out of nowhere, Katie Ledecky blasted the best 1000 freestyle ever swum by a female swimmer, going 8:59.65 and charring the American record to bits by a whopping 11 seconds.

Though we’ll often use our Blueseventy Featured Swim of the Week to take a closer look at a less-publicized swim, this week, we’re going back to Ledecky’s headline-grabbing effort to unpack more of the insanity its speed creates.

So without further ado, Ledecky’s 1000 free by the numbers:

  • 4:28.75 – Ledecky’s split over the final 500 yards. As a standalone 500 free, that would rank #5 all-time, and no one besides Ledecky has ever been under 4:30 in the event, much less 4:29 coming off of another four-and-a-half-minute 500 free.
  • 1:46.47 – Ledecky’s final 200 yards. that would rank within the top 100 times in history for the 17-18 age group in the individual 200 free.
  • 0.01 – the difference between Ledecky’s opening and closing splits. Keep in mind that her first split included a start, which drives home just how well Ledecky finished this race. (She was out in 25.53 and closed in 25.52).
  • 1:44.59 – the sum of Ledecky’s four fastest splits during the 1000. That time by itself would have scored at last year’s NCAA Championships in the 200 free.
  • 11.12 – the number of seconds faster than anyone in history Ledecky swam the 1000 free. That’s over 1.1 seconds on each 100 split.
  • 14:57.41 – what Ledecky’s projected 1650 free would have been if she had repeated her slowest overall split for the final 650 yards.
  • 14:50.43 – what Ledecky’s 1650 free would have been if she kept up her average pace for 650 more yards.

You can read more about the swim here.

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5 years ago

Love the analysis!

One small error: Ledecky’s 50 splits are 11.12/20 = .56 seconds faster than anyone else in history, not 11.12/10 = 1.11. A 1000 has 20 50s.

5 years ago

If Ledecky can break 15 minutes in the 1650 that would be a tremendous accomplishment. Won’t be easy but if anyone can do it, it’s her. It will take 3 500 splits of 4:32 and some change. Obviously this is kind of an arbitrary threshold, but people love multiples of 10. As a swim nerd I’d love to see people rank the various multiple of 10 barrier swims. The most impressive that immediately/noteworthy come to my mind are:

1. Weismuller 1:00 in LCM 100 free (perhaps not the most impressive, but huge historical importance).
2. Ledecky’s 1000 yard free (for the reasons metioned).
3. Coughlin breaking 50.0 in the 100 SCY backstroke (when she did that time it… Read more »

Reply to  fatsmcgee
5 years ago

I would put Down Fraser sub minute in your list too.

Coach Mike 1952
5 years ago

Some others:

Worrell breaking 50.0 in 100 fly at NCAA Women’s Nats last spring
Salnikov breaking 15 in the 1500 free
Phelps breaking 50 s in 100M LC fly 2009 Worlds (conceivably / possibly again next year textile as well)

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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