Katie Ledecky Completes Sweep of Janet Evans Records from the Books


At the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, 15-year-old newcomer Katie Ledecky surprised the country by finishing third in the 400 freestyle, breaking Janet Evans‘s national age group record in the 15-16 400 free. She went on to win the 800 free at Trials, curbing another Evans age group record.

At 2012 London Olympics in her first-ever international meet, Ledecky did the unthinkable by pulling off a major upset over world record holder Rebecca Adlingtonand, even more impressively, breaking Evans’s 27-year-old American record.

Today, with Evans watching from on deck, Ledecky swam 8:10.91 to take down the four-time Olympic gold medalist’s last major record in the books, an 8:17.12 long course nationals record set at the 1988 Spring Nationals in Orlando, Florida. At the time, the swim was a world record, Evans’s first in the 800, which beat East Germany’s Anke Mohring’s world record of 8:19.53 set in 1987.

Other than Ledecky’s NAG-shattering 8:19.78 at the 2012 Olympic Trials, her 8:22.41 at the 2013 World Championship Trials, and her 8:18.47 at U.S. Nationals in Irvine, she has never competed at a long course national championship, which explains why the Evans record stood until today.

Evans was the greatest swimmer of her time. In 1987, she broke the world records in the 400, 800, and the 1500 meter freestyle. She won three individual golds at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. She was undefeated in the all three distances for over five years, and her 800 free world record stood until Adlington took it down in 2008. At the time of her retirement, she held seven world records, five Olympic medals, (including four gold), and 45 American national titles. She was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2001.

If none of her accomplishments have yet signified the beginning of the Ledecky era in swimming, her clean sweep of Evans records certainly places us in the thick of it.

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Swimmer Thieroff

Ummmmm… Anyone else notice that Becca Mann missed the finals?


Missing by margins like that in an 800 is the stuff of nightmares….

Victor P

Can’t believe she didn’t have a sub 8:30 in her to secure a spot. Possibly ill?


Is she sick or injured? Mann hasn’t swum much at all this week. She has been swimming to well. I was looking forward to her swims. Tough 800 🙁

bobo gigi

She had a stellar meet last November in Minneapolis. I don’t remember the exact times but it was like 4.07 in the 400 free, 8.21 in the 800 free and 4.37 in the 400 IM.
Since then she isn’t the same swimmer anymore. No idea why.


Well I was unsure about this Ledecky character, but now she seems like the real deal!

All jokes aside, really impressive Evan’s U.S. open record stood for so long, she really was amazing, I can’t wait to see who does a clean sweep of Ledecky’s records in the future!

Also Ledecky 8:10 in prelims??!!!! That is cooking. Will we see WR tomorrow evening? That could be the case. It’s just a matter of how close to 8:00 minutes she can get now. Ledecky always talks about how she has her own goals beyond medals and I know she wants that 8 minute barrier broken.

Attila the Hunt

Will Katie break the WR tomorrow or not?

Before you placed your bet using real money, have a look at the quick poll cultivated among Swimswam experts:


It’s amazing how fast Evans was back in the day and that it takes a talent like Ledecky to be breaking those records. Thanks for the recognition of Evans. Is there any movement to get the 1500 in the Olympic program and drop the 800? Seems outdated not having the women doing the 1500.


Evans was way ahead of her time, undoubtedly. When you think about most records from the 1980’s, very few would still be “elite” today. Janet Evans would still probably make the team today (not probably, her time would place her in a solid 2nd place behind LeDecky). Unreal when you think about the progress in the sport over 30 years.

Coach Mike 1952

Janet was so far ahead that it was off the charts, just like Mary T.

Stay Human

But I think Leah Smith has a great shot of beating Janet’s record in the finals too.

Victor P

How come nobody makes the same counter-claim for the men’s program about the 800?


Ledecky does. In one of her interviews, she said she’d like the 1500 for women AND the 800 for men. The 1500 for women gets more attention because it’s most clearly aligned with paternalistic “oh the girls can’t race that far” attitudes across so many sports.

Attila the Hunt

With number of Olympics athletes getting more and more restricted, while the number of countries participating in Olympics sports keep increasing, and more sports trying to get into Olympics program, there is very little chance that there will be both men and women’s 800 and 1,500.
They have to choose one or the other.

Attila the Hunt

LOL. touche!!!!!

because somebody always have certain agenda about a particular issue.


Simple solution. Drop women’s 800. Add womens 1500. Should have done it in 1984 when they added women’s marathon in t&f.


I’ve always said so, too. Not good to have inequity any way you slice it.


I checked the seed times for the men’s 1500 and Ledecky came in 25th! FOR THE MEN!


She would be top 16 if she swam it

About Hannah Hecht

Hannah Hecht

Hannah Hecht grew up in Kansas and spent most of her childhood trying to convince coaches to let her swim backstroke in freestyle sets. She took her passion to Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa and swam at NAIA Nationals all four years. After graduating in 2015, she moved to …

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