Katie Ledecky Breaks 400 Free World Record, Unites Long Course Distance Crown

American Katie Ledecky has broken the World Record in the women’s 400 meter freestyle on Saturday at the 2014 U.S. National Championships in Irvine, California.

She swam a 3:58.86 in finals to win her second-straight U.S. National Title in the event and also break Federica Pellegrini’s 3:59.15 from the 2009 World Championships as the World Record.

The comparative splits:

(By 50)

Ledecky:  28.03 – 29.71 – 29.93 – 30.05 – 30.23 – 30.45 – 31.01 – 29.45 = 3:58.86
Pellegrini: 28.45 – 30.21 – 30.31 – 30.45 – 30.24 – 30.27 – 29.86 – 29.36 = 3:59.19

(In aggregate)

Ledecky:  28.03 – 57.74 – 1:27.67 – 1:57.72 – 2:27.95 – 2:58.40 – 3:29.41 – 3:58.86
Pellegrini: 28.45 – 58.66 – 1:28.97 – 1:59.42 – 2:29.66 – 2:59.93 – 3:29.79 – 3:59.15

Ledecky started out her race obliterating the World Record pace, but that’s what you have to do in any comparison to Pellegrini in 2009 – she was negative-splitting or at least very-nearly even-splitting everything during that period, and so the “yellow line” closes in a hurry.

Ledecky, though has just enough endurance to close, and has really developed the front-end speed that she needs to get out ahead of this record. While Ledecky’s speed is what has been improving, it’s interesting to note that she’s still nowhere near as fast as Pellegrini was in the 200 free during this same time period. So it’s the combination of speed and endurance that got Ledecky this record.

Incidentally, Ledecky also broke the American Record (3:59.82), the U.S. Open Record (3:59.89 – from prelims), the 17-18 National Age Group Record (3:59.82), and the World Junior Record (3:59.89 from prelims) in this swim.

Ledecky becomes the first woman to hold the 400, 800, and 1500 meter World Records in long course simultaneously since the 1980’s when Janet Evans had all three (and held some of them for a really long time).

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Jim C

1:57.72 at 200m. If we subtract 2s for the flip and foot touch rather than a hand touch, that would be like a 1:55.72 which is a time better than anything she swam before the finals 2 days ago.


Two seconds? Maybe one at best. But nevertheless, that’s a wicked split, and an amazing hold of pace in the backhalf considering she wasn’t wrapped in rubber.


2 seconds major nelson??? its like a half a second difference.


i bet she’s pumped about breaking that National Age Group Record


No doubt that 31 split will be become high 29/low-mid 30 soon enough with pan pacs

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Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder 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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