Katie Ledecky Hits 15:35.35 To Mark First-Ever Women’s 1500 Free Olympic Record

2020 TOKYO SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES

Katie Ledecky came away from day 3 prelims at the Tokyo 2020 Games with the official Olympic record in the women’s 1500 freestyle. Ledecky capped off the first-ever round of 1500 prelims at an Olympic Games with a 15:35.35.

The swim for Ledecky was 15 seconds over her 2018 world record in the event of 15:20.48 and is her 8th fastest swim on record. Ledecky will go into the final as top seed and will be attempting to collect her first gold medal of the meet. During day 2 finals Ledecky took silver in the women’s 400 freestyle, hitting a 3:57.36 to Ariarne Titmus‘ 3:56.69.

Based on the results, we know that Ledecky was the only woman who recorded an Olympic record in the event, even though the 4 heat winners who swam before her each recorded the fastest-ever women’s 1500 free at the Games.

In the first heat of the meet, Katrina Bellio of Canada completed the first-ever women’s 1500 at the Olympic Games in a 16:24.37. That swim made her the unofficial Olympic record holder but wasn’t good enough to get her a spot in the final, ranking her 21st overall in the heats.

During heat 2, 20-year-old Austrian swimmer Marlene Kahler managed to bring the unofficial Olympic record down a 16:20.05. Kahler improved upon her own PB in the event which sits at a 16:21.52 from earlier this year. That 16:21.52 was not only a personal best for Kahler, it was also an Austrian record. Kahler also missed out on qualifying for the final as her 16:21.52 national record was the 19th fastest time overall.

By the time heat 3 came and went, Hungarian teen Viktoria Mihalyvari-Farkas had nearly swum the first sub-16:00 Olympic 1500 freestyle when she hit a 16:02.26 to set the 3rd unofficial Olympic record of the session. Mihalyvari-Farkas’ swim was a solid PB, improving upon the 16:14.12 that she delivered at the 2021 European Swimming Championships. Mihalyvari-Farkas, like Bellio and Kahler, failed to qualify for the final as her 16:02.26 gave her a 12th place finish.

One heat before Katie Ledecky‘s first official Olympic record, her teammate Erica Sullivan brought the field under 16 minutes for the first time with a 15:46.67 heat win. Sullivan swam the majority of the race with 2019 World Champion Simona Quadarella but managed to pull away towards the end, leaving the Italian for 2nd place with a 15:47.34. Unlike the 3 heat winners before her, Erica Sullivan‘s swim was fast enough to advance into the final. Sullivan will go into the debut women’s 1500 freestyle final as 3rd seed, trailing Ledecky’s 15:35.35 and Wang Jianjiahe‘s 15:41.49 Asian record.

Tokyo 2020 Women’s 1500 Freestyle Prelims – Top 8

  1. Katie Ledecky (USA) – 15:35.35
  2. Wang Jianjiahe (CHN) – 15:41.49
  3. Erica Sullivan (USA) – 15:46.67
  4. Simona Quadarella (ITA) – 15:47.34
  5. Anastasia Kirpichnikova (RUS) – 15:50.22
  6. Sarah Kohler (GER) – 15:52.67
  7. Maddy Gough (AUS) – 15:56.81
  8. Kiah Melverton (AUS) – 15:58.96

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Coach Mike 1952
2 months ago

It looked like KL had plenty left in the tank for the final. Could under 15:20 be in the works? Would be very surprised if it wasn’t on her mind.

Yeslie
Reply to  Coach Mike 1952
2 months ago

Maybe you should do it too since it’s on YOUR mind! 🙂

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  Yeslie
2 months ago

I agree with White Whale below – KL could surprise us, though not counting on it. But really, what swimmer doesn’t dream even a little bit about a WR, let alone be able (like KL) to do it many times over? And yes, at one time I did dream of that too. Why not?

He said what?
Reply to  Coach Mike 1952
2 months ago

No. Can we please stop with the crazy and exaggerated predictions? This is getting old fast.

Texas Tap Water
Reply to  He said what?
2 months ago

I know right.

In prelims threads, they were crazy predictions, like Ledecky will swim 1:53 in 200 just because she swam 15:35 in 1500 prelims.

sven
Reply to  Texas Tap Water
2 months ago

Ok but hear me out: Coach Mike thinks she could break 15:20 in the 1500, and if we shift the colon over to the left one space we see that Katie Ledecky could be on track to go 1:52.0 in the 200 freestyle. The numbers are pretty clear.

The White Whale
Reply to  He said what?
2 months ago

Personally I don’t think Ledecky swimming a PB (i.e. going under 15:20) qualifies as an “exaggerated prediction.” I certainly wouldn’t put a bet on it, but it wouldn’t surprise me either.

By the way, I posted about this earlier and my comment disappeared. Anyone else notice any of their comments going poof?

Tyson
Reply to  He said what?
2 months ago

Most people were saying it will take a 3:58 high- 3:59 low to win the 400 well were they wrong the crazy predictions aren’t always bad it’s good to hype up a race I think she will be able to go at least a 15:25 but I’ll wait and see.

Bobo Gigi
Reply to  Coach Mike 1952
2 months ago

I don’t care about the time. If she has to win only one gold this week I just wish it’s the 1500 free. Her legacy will be complete. And I’m confident. Despite the loss I think her performance in the 400 free was a relief for her. She knows she’s in great shape. Her best shape since Rio.

Ragnar
Reply to  Bobo Gigi
2 months ago

She’ll take the 800 as well. She’s done what great like Ronda Rousey, Conner Mcgregor, and Phelps did. Inspire a generation into following their footsteps and building on their accomplishments. Of course they won’t stay on top forever, but will always be 100% responsible for creating their successor, which is what lasts forever.

Chris
Reply to  Ragnar
2 months ago

DO NOT place Conor McGregor in the same category as Michael Phelps. It isn’t even close. There are a dozen fighters that have greater careers than McChoker.

Irish Ringer
Reply to  Chris
2 months ago

Greater careers, but not a greater fan base.

Taa
Reply to  Irish Ringer
2 months ago

Mcgregor is a conman

iLikePsych
Reply to  Ragnar
2 months ago

Might be reading into this too much but intriguing that out of the handful of other GOATs you could’ve mentioned with Phelps, you chose two fighters.

Smith-King-Huske-Manuel
Reply to  Bobo Gigi
2 months ago

Katie Ledecky’s legacy has been tarnished by failing to win the women’s 400 meter freestyle at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics thanks to head coach Greg Meehan. The same head coach who led the Stanford Cardinal swim team to a debacle at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

Last edited 2 months ago by Smith-King-Huske-Manuel
Walter
Reply to  Smith-King-Huske-Manuel
2 months ago

Wow.

Smith-King-Huske-Manuel
Reply to  Walter
2 months ago

Yuri Suguiyama developed Katie Ledecky into an international superstar. Bruce Gemmell vaulted Katie Ledecky into legendary status.

What’s Greg Meehan’s contribution? Failure to win the gold medal in the women’s 200 meter freestyle at major international competitions and/or tournaments. Failure to win the gold medal in the women’s 400 meter freestyle at the last two major international competitions and/or tournaments.

BilesnoGravity
Reply to  Smith-King-Huske-Manuel
2 months ago

Keeping her in the conversation for gold in the 200 through 1500 (massive time drops) well into a 3rd olympics despite a pandemic? Quit measuring success purely on best times and gold medals, especially for a female distance swimmer who is still dominant in her 3rd olympics.

It seems like they paced her well through trials and the olympics so far. She was short 3000m of swimming comparatively in 2016.

This is incredible to watch, no tarnish in sight.

Anon5
Reply to  Smith-King-Huske-Manuel
2 months ago

The loss does not tarnish her legacy one bit. Therei is no Titmas without Ledecky. Ledecky changed the way the 400 fr is swum. She paved the way for the Titmas, Li, Macintosh exc. Its not always about how many races or Golds are won, it is also what you can do for the sport as a whole. Ledecky has done a lot for swimming.. This is how swimming works there is always going to be a time when new people like Titmas are going to win and Titmas will experience the same down the road.

Robbos
Reply to  Anon5
2 months ago

Not sure why the downvotes. This is very true.
Even Titmus on Australian TV, said it’s because of Ledecky that has driven her to swim as fast as she does.
Ledecky is the closest you have to a female Phelps.

BilesnoGravity
Reply to  Bobo Gigi
2 months ago

I just hope she knows that she’s the greatest freestyler in history and anything else she accomplishes is icing on the cake. She has the longevity to continue excelling in the sport, and she’s likely proven that to herself in training from what it sounds. Happy to see her start to show that more.

Whether she goes best times is irrelevant to me. She is still nothing short of incredible and we’re all privileged just to be able to witness it.

8:04 is going to be around for a long time, and she’ll likely grab a few golds. I hope she is fresh enough to let her speed show (she’s been 53 in season already) in the 200 and… Read more »

Juan
Reply to  Coach Mike 1952
2 months ago

A pb is always on every swimmers mind while tapered. That being said, I dont think she left plenty on the tank. I don’t know what race u watched. A 15:29 might be possible but nothing crazier than that. Imo

The White Whale
Reply to  Juan
2 months ago

I think it’s possible that her prelim goal was to be 15 seconds off her WR pace, i.e. one second per hundred. That doesn’t mean she can easily pare off 15 seconds for finals, but it’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility.

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  Juan
2 months ago

we all shall see!

jim
Reply to  Coach Mike 1952
2 months ago

Maybe, and no. Maybe if she does not swim in the finals for the 200. Otherwise, no.

Smith-King-Huske-Manuel
2 months ago

The last time Katie Ledecky swam the heats of the women’s 1500 meter freestyle at a major international tournament under coach Bruce Gemmell, Katie Ledecky posted a time of 15:27.71 in Kazan (2015 FINA World Aquatics Championships).

Last edited 2 months ago by Smith-King-Huske-Manuel
Drewbrewsbeer
2 months ago

Why is only KL’s record recognized?

JimSwim22
Reply to  Drewbrewsbeer
2 months ago

They should all get records.

jim
Reply to  Drewbrewsbeer
2 months ago

I’m not sure, but it’s likely because the olympic record is created at the end of the event when ALL SWIMMERS have completed prelims. By then, Katie was the only one who OFFICIALLY set the record. OR, the others DID set the record, but because it was never written on omegatiming or any other location by the time the event was over, it basically doesn’t count as being ‘official’. Either way, it really doesn’t matter. It’ll be broken tomorrow as well.

eagleswim
Reply to  jim
2 months ago

all the buzz yesterday was talking about how the women’s 100 back OR got broken 4 times in one (2 technically) day.3 times in prelims.

Last edited 2 months ago by eagleswim
Oceanian
Reply to  Drewbrewsbeer
2 months ago

It seems that back around 1988 when new events were added to the Olympic swimming programme, they only ratified the fastest time after all the heats.

Before this – back to the 60s or the 1910s if new events were added, anyone who swam the fastest time in the heats (from h1 to whatever) was credited with an OR if their time was faster than the previous time.

Barry
Reply to  Oceanian
2 months ago

On the one hand, that makes sense.

On the other hand, the heat 1 winner was certainly, at the time, the fastest in Olympic history and it’s totally legitimate to give her the Olympic Record. Even if they she only had it for a quarter of an hour, that’s still a pretty cool accomplishment. This is one of those situations where being technically correct should definitely count as being actually correct (if I were Katrina Bellio, I would absolutely put “Former Olympic Record holder” on my CV when she starts applying to places in a few years).

Daaaave
2 months ago

Kind of odd splits from Katie on this morning swim. From 400m she oscillates by in some cases more than .5 per 50 on alternate lengths. I think we have seen her do this before…but also she has some swims where she is metronomic so I am wondering how intentional this is.

Interestingly her quicker lengths are when she is going away from the starting blocks – and breathing AWAY from the almost-too-close Wang.

I would have thought she’d be quicker when she can have a better look at Wang’s position and respond with a bit of engine-revving. But perhaps it’s the opposite–she banks a few extra tenths on the 50s to make sure Wang isn’t creeping in… Read more »

Idc
2 months ago

Was hoping she would cruise through prelims of the 200 free and attack the 1500 and go for the wr it seems like the best idea it’s at night like most finals and she won’t be coming off a very close race in the 200.

Swimpop
2 months ago

Top four US trials times would have made finals. It will be the Sandpiper show when KL retires.

TeamRegan
2 months ago

How about Erica, 15:46!!!!! Could very well be in medal contentions

theroboticrichardsimmons
2 months ago

Ledecky set her 15:20.48 world record in 2018 when she went 3:57.94 in the 400. The past isn’t always predictive of the future, but I think we should expect Ledecky to be close to her 2018 times across all her events (she also went 8:07.27 in the 800).

That said, she does have the 200 final about an hour before the 1500 final, which is a pretty tough double (though one that she’s been training for).

nicktamtam
Reply to  theroboticrichardsimmons
2 months ago

Ledecky’s form is probably the finest since Rio Olympics. A second place in 200m with a 1:53:80, a first place in 800m with a 8:08:00 and a first place in 1500m with a 15:25:00 are my predictions. I really can’ t see any world records since 8:04:79 is a very tough time and 1500m is only an hour after 200m.

Smith-King-Huske-Manuel
Reply to  nicktamtam
2 months ago

The 8:14.63 barrier has not been broken in the women’s 800 meter freestyle since the 2012 Summer Olympics, that is aside from Katie Ledecky.

https://www.fina.org/swimming/rankings?gender=F&distance=800&stroke=FREESTYLE&poolConfiguration=LCM&year=all&startDate=&endDate=&timesMode=ALL_TIMES&regionId=all&countryId=

A time posted from 8:10.32 to 8:11.00 in the women’s 800 meter freestyle would be a reasonable expectation for Katie Ledecky.

jeff
Reply to  Smith-King-Huske-Manuel
2 months ago

that’s crazy, I knew that Adlington still was the second fastest performer ever from Beijing but I never realized that no one has even beaten Ledecky’s time in London

Robbos
Reply to  jeff
2 months ago

Watch for Titmus in the 800. Maybe not good enough to beat Ledecky, but will easily beat Adlinton’s time.