Upon winning the 800m freestyle final Saturday night at the 2015 FINA World Championships Katie Ledecky became the first swimmer to ever win four freestyle golds at either a world championships or Olympic Games.
Ledecky was previously tied with some of the biggest names in freestyle swimming history including Ian Thorpe, Grant Hackett, and Debbie Meyer as the only swimmers to have ever won three gold medals.
With her 800m freestyle victory, Ledecky is now in a league of her own.
Her 2015 medal haul started on the first day of competition where she defended her 2013 400m freestyle world title. With a time of 3:59.13, Ledecky bettered Frederica Pellegrini’s championship record from 2009 by two one-hundredths of a second, and won the race over Sharon Van Rouwendaal by 3.89 seconds.
Ledecky was back at it the next day swimming in the heats of the 1500m freestyle. She held nothing back at this point, beating her own world record in the event with a 15:27.71.
On day three she swam in the 1500m freestyle final where she once again took a chunk off her 1500 free world record, bettering the mark to a 15:25.48.
Just a few short minutes after, Ledecky had to fight for a spot in the 200m freestyle where she was a dark-horse to win. With only one event separating the 1500 free and 200m frees semis, Ledecky still managed to qualify sixth for the 200 free final with a 1:56.76.
On day four Ledecky came back strong on the last 50 of the 200m freestyle in order to win the race from lane seven. Ledecky beat world record holder Frederica Pellegrini 1:55.16 to 1:55.36 in order to win her third gold of the meet and set herself up for her fourth.
With the 200 free win, Ledecky was set up perfectly to become the first swimmer to ever win four individual freestyle golds at any major international competition.
Ledecky had day five off as far as individual events, but in finals she claimed yet another gold as a part of the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay team. That gave Ledecky her fourth gold of the meet.
Taking things easy on the sixth day of competition, Ledecky took the top seed in the women’s 800m freestyle as expected. What wasn’t expected was the time she would go in finals Saturday.
As she touched the wall in the final of the 800, history was made. Ledecky had won her fourth gold medal and set an incredible world record of 8:07.39 which is undisputedly one of the fastest records in the books.
Ledecky stands in a league of her own now as far as freestyle goes, bettering some of the biggest names in history. There’s no denying that she’s one of the best female distance swimmers in history. If she can add any hardware at the 2016 Olympic Games to her already impressive repertoire, she will go down in history as the best female distance swimmer of all time.
FUN FACTS ABOUT LEDECKY’S 2015 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP MEDAL HAUL
- Ledecky swam a total of 6,200 meters in order to claim her five gold medals
- Ledecky now has a total of nine world championship titles which ties her for having the second most out of all female swimmers behind only Missy Franklin who has 10
- Ledecky is the first swimmer to ever win four individual freestyle golds at a major international competition
- Ledecky set three world records at this meet, two in the 1500m freestyle (15:27.71, 15:25.48) and one in the 800m freestyle (8:07.39)
- Ledecky won the 200m freestyle final by 0.17 seconds
- Ledecky won the 400m freestyle final by 3.89 seconds
- Ledecky won the 800m freestyle final by 10.26 seconds
- Ledecky’s opening split in the 800m freestyle final would have finished third overall in the individual 400 final behind herself and Sharon Van Rouwendaal.
- Ledecky’s closing split in the 800m freestyle final would rank her 6th in the world in the individual 400 free.
- Ledecky won the 1500m freestyle final by 14.66 seconds
- Ledecky’s first 800 meters were faster than any swimmer has ever swam an individual 800m freestyle
- Ledecky’s closing 800 meters tied the fastest non-Ledecky performance ever (8:14.10)
- Ledecky split a 1:55.64 while anchoring the winning women’s 4x200m freestyle relay.
- When breaking her world record in the 800 free, she broke it by the largest margin since 1978 (3.61 seconds)
- Only the fourth woman to have ever won five gold medals at one edition of the world championships
Below is a list of swimmers who have won multiple freestyle medals at either a world championships or Olympic Games (since 1956). If swimmers earned a different amount of multiple freestyle wins at multiple competitions, only their best competition was recorded below:
**Note: results from the 1980 Olympic Games were not included
- Katie Ledecky (2015)
- Sun Yang (2013)
- Ian Thorpe (2001)
- Grant Hackett (2005)
- Tim Shaw (1975)
- Hannah Stockbauer (2003)
- Debbie Meyer (1968)
- Frederica Pellegrini (2011, 2009)
- Britta Steffen (2009, 2008)
- Jim Montgomery (1973)
- Vlad Salnikov (1978, 1982)
- Laure Manaudou (2007)
- Libby Lenton (Trickett) (2007)
- Katie Zeilger (2005, 2007)
- Rainer Henkel (1986)
- Jorg Hoffman (1991)
- Alex Popov (1994, 1996, 2003)
- Inge De Bruijn (2000, 2001)
- Le Jingyi (1994)
- Janet Evans (1991)
- Heiki Friedrich (1986)
- Shirley Babashoff (1975)
- Ranomi Kromidjojo (2012)
- Rebecca Adlington (2008)
- Pieter van den Hoogenband (2000)
- Brooke Bennett (2000)
- Danyon Loader (1996)
- Evgeny Sadovyi (1992)
- Matt Biondi (1988)
- Kristin Otto (1988)
- Janet Evans (1988)
- Tiffany Cohen (1984)
- Brian Goddell (1976)
- Kornelia ender (1976)
- Petra Thumer (1976)
- Mark Spitz (1972)
- Shane Gould (1972)
- Michael Wendon (1968)
- Mike Burton (1968)
- Don Schollander (1964)
- Murray Rose (1956)