Katie Ledecky Breaks 1500 Free World Record by 10 Seconds; Gets 800 AR En Route


In her first-ever short course 1500 meter freestyle, American Katie Ledecky shattered the World Record.

Ledecky’s winning time of 15:08.24 broke the old record of 15:18.01 that was set by German Sarah (Kohler) Wellbrock in 2019.

The World Record by Ledecky earns her a $10,000 bonus from FINA.

Ledecky was already the World Record holder in long course at 15:20. Given that most swimmers are 2-3% faster in the short course 1500 than the long course (Wellbrock, for example, is 24 seconds better), that Ledecky was able to break this record by so much is not a surprise, though none-the-less stunning.

Unlike the 400 free World Record that we saw go down earlier this week in China, the 1500 is something that a lot of very good distance swimmers have swum very seriously in short course. Besides Wellbrock, the all-time top performers list includes names like Mireia Belmonte, Lotte Friis, and Simona Quadarella.

But none of those swimmers are Ledecky, who in the 1500, more than any other race, is heads-and-shoulders ahead of anybody else in the history of the sport.

The record-watch was on early. By 600 meters, 40% of the way into the race, she was already 5 seconds under the World Record.

Ledecky’s 800 meter split of 8:00.58 came very close to breaking Mireia Belmonte’s World Record of 7:59.34 in that event, and crushed the American Record of 8:07.67 set by Leah Smith in 2016.

Splits Comparison:

Wellbrock Ledecky Leah Smith
Cumulative Pace Under WR Former World Record Holder New World Record Former 800 AR
100m -0.85 59.28 58.43 58.1
200m -1.03 60.74 60.56 60.95
300m -1.51 61.21 60.73 61.3
400m -2.34 61.33 60.5 61.89
500m -3.78 61.41 59.97 61.8
600m -5 61.25 60.03 62.03
700m -6.4 61.51 60.11 61.88
800m -7.81 61.66 60.25 59.72
900m -8.75 61.36 60.42
1000m -9.54 61.57 60.78
1100m -9.77 61.62 61.39
1200m -9.81 61.69 61.65
1300m -9.46 61.63 61.98
1400m -9.48 61.57 61.55
1500m -9.77 60.18 59.89

Notable things about this record-breaking swim:

  • This is Ledecky’s first World Record since 2018 when she set the long course record in the 1500 free at another in-season meet.
  • Ledecky’s swim also breaks the American Record, previously a 15:32.90 by Kate Ziegler in 2007
  • Ledecky’s swim also breaks the World Cup record that was set in 1989 by Belgian Christelle Janssens in Paris, France. The event has been absent from the World Cup circuit for a while; this year, it will be alternated with the 800 free at the various meets.






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1 month ago

Rowdy Gaines is salivating right now

Reply to  Andrew
1 month ago

Oh dear…you are probably right. I really liked Brittany as commentator.

1 month ago

As for next week, how about some deja vu?


It’s Ledecky, the world record line, then Boyle.

Last edited 1 month ago by Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
The unoriginal Tim
1 month ago

It seemed like a foregone conclusion that Ledeckey would do something like this as soon as she swan a 1500 SCM but nothing in sport is a foregone conclusion and this is a very impressive swim.

1 month ago

Since name of Sarah Wellbrock was brought to the discussion then there is an interesting point:
Personal best at 1500m
LCM – 15:42; 27yo
SCM – 15:18; 25 yo
Diff – 24sec
Ledecky competed at 1500SCM for the first time in her career. Nothing to compare with. But if the Sarah Wellbrock’s example shows how results differ in short and long pool at highest level of competition then should’ve we expected from Ledecky sub 15min result?
Should we look at her yesterday result as 15:30 low LCM performance?

Reply to  Yozhik
1 month ago

Did you take into account that Katie Ledecky may have not tapered for 2022 FINA World Cup?

Alison England
1 month ago

Difficult to remember that she is still only 25!

Reply to  Alison England
1 month ago

– years of age (-Rowdy)

Reply to  Alison England
1 month ago

To think, the competition has evaporated in the women’s 800 meter freestyle and women’s 1500 meter freestyle:


1 month ago

In her record setting race Katie Ledecky had no advantage over Sarah Koehler at last 400m. We saw the similar picture in Tokyo and practically at all her races at all distances last years. Very strong first part of the race and not that strong finish. And it isn’t like Ledecky’s general style of racing. When training under Bruce Gemmell the racing approach was quite an opposite. Moreover the coach required her to follow strictly the race plan for the first two thirds of the distance and only then to do whatever she feels like depending on circumstances of the race. At her record setting races then the final stage of the races were the most remarkable. The… Read more »

Reply to  Yozhik
1 month ago


Reply to  Yozhik
1 month ago


Reply to  Yozhik
1 month ago

Easier said than done

1 month ago

I didn’t know she’s a good short course swimmer

Reply to  David
1 month ago

Her ncaa results say otherswise

1 month ago

I knew it

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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