Katie Ledecky Regains Full Top 25 All-Time Swims in 800 Free

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 19

February 11th, 2022 News

American swimmer Katie Ledecky’s 8:11.83 was notable for a number of reasons. For one, it was faster than her gold medal time at the Tokyo Olympics, showing that her Florida training is, in a two-dimensional matrix at least, working.

For two, she negative-split the race, showing some signs of that back-half speed that fellow Olympic champion and Florida distance trainee Bobby Finke showed at the Olympics.

But more esoterically, it re-establishes Ledecky as owning the 25 fastest times in the history of this event. She bumped Australian Ariarne Titmus, who swam 8:13.83 en route to an Olympic silver medal in the event, is the second-fastest ever, and that time is now the 26th-fastest ever.

Ledecky has the only active top-25-times in any long course event. There are other dominant swimmers who hold a lot of the top times in an event – Katinka Hosszu has 22 out of the 25 best 200 IMs, and Adam Peaty has 21 out of the 25 best 100 breaststrokes, for example.

But Ledecky’s ability to not only dominate, but to swim among the all-time fastest results in local club meets that are designed primarily for good high school swimmers, is unparalleled in the modern generation, especially in the 800 and 1500 freestyles.

Below, we’ve dug out the swimmer with the most and second-most times that rank in the top 25 performances ever in each event.

A few observations:

  • I expect that in the newly-minted Olympic men’s 800 free, we’ll start to see more swimmers take “multiple spots” in the top 25. Right now, that’s among the most diverse events without a real dominant force, but that makes sense because it hasn’t historically been raced at most big taper meets.
  • These lists will always have a recency bias, because swimming always gets faster. Any swimmer who is over the age of 30 who is still on the table below is really impressive.
  • There are a surprising number of occasions where the World Record holder doesn’t have the most top 25 swims. Singular greatness doesn’t always imply the same thing as sustained greatness.
  • I expected that there would be more lopsidedness in single swimmer dominance in 100 meter events because there are more opportunities to swim those races at taper meets by the transcendent stars. Sarah Sjostrom has swum more tapered 100 flys than she has tapered 50 flies, and than Katinka Hosszu has swum tapered 400 IMs. There’s not very strong evidence of this in the results – so there must be other factors that matter more.
  • There are a few swimmers who I expected to appear on more of these lists, like Daiya Seto (6) and Laszlo Cseh (5). But, Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps still suck so much air out of those rooms that it doesn’t leave much space for other swimmers.
  • There are some cases where swimmers made these lists without coming all that close to a World Record, with multiple swims ranked in the 20s. Anastasia Fesikova in the 50 back, for example, has swims ranked #17, #24, and #25. Others are the opposite – Kolesnikov’s 7 top-25-ranked swims in the 50 back aren’t the highest number, but all 7 are in the top 15 as well.
  • Rivals Lilly King and Yulia Efimova are tied for number of total entries in top 25 lists across all events, with 16 each.

While we had the data open, for fun we looked to see who had the most all-time top 25 swims across all races. At least 8 swimmers have a minimum of 20 total entries. Scroll to the end to see who leads that list.

Data was all compiled by hand, because Daniel is busy. Let me know if I missed anything.

Most Top 25-Ranked Swims By Event

Most Top 25 Swims 2nd Most Top 25 Swims World Record
50 free Caeleb Dressel – 7 Cesar Cielo/Fred Bousquet – 4 Cesar Cielo – 20.91
100 free Caeleb Dressel – 7 Alain Bernard – 5 Cesar Cielo – 46.91
200 free Michael Phelps – 7 Paul Biedermann – 4 Paul Biedermann – 1:42.00
400 free Sun Yang – 11 Park Tae Hwan/Ian Thorpe – 4 Paul Biedermann – 3:40.07
800 free Gregorio Paltrinieri – 5 Sun Yang – 3 Zhang Lin – 7:32.12
1500 free Gregorio Paltrinieri – 8 Sun Yang/Florian Wellbrock – 3 Sun Yang – 14:31.02
50 back Kliment Kolesnikov – 7 Camille Lacourt – 5 Kliment Kolesnikov – 23.80
100 back Ryan Murphy – 8 Kliment Kolesnikov – 4 Ryan Murphy – 51.85
200 back Evgeny Rylov – 7 Ryosuke Irie/Mitch Larkin – 5 Aaron Peirsol – 1:51.92
50 breast Adam Peaty – 17 Felipe Lima/Nicolo Martinenghi – 3 Adam Peaty – 25.95
100 breast Adam Peaty – 21 Arno Kamminga – 4 Adam Peaty – 56.88
200 breast Anton Chupkov – 7 Ippei Watanabe – 5 Anton Chupkov – 2:06.12
50 fly Andrii Govorov – 7 Oleg Kostin – 3 Andriy Govorov – 22.27
100 fly Caeleb Dressel – 13 Michael Phelps – 4 Caeleb Dressel – 49.45
200 fly Kristof Milak – 11 Michael Phelps – 7 Kristof Milak – 1:50.73
200 IM Ryan Lochte – 10 Michael Phelps – 8 Ryan Lochte – 1:54.00
400 IM Ryan Lochte – 7 Michael Phelps – 5 Michael Phelps – 4:03.84
50 free Sarah Sjostrom – 11 Cate Campbell – 6 Sarah Sjostrom – 23.67
100 free Cate Campbell – 9 Sarah Sjostrom – 6 Sarah Sjostrom – 51.71
200 free Federica Pellegrini/Ariarne Titmus – 5
Federica Pellegrini – 1:52.98
400 free Katie Ledecky – 18 Ariarne Titmus – 6 Katie Ledecky – 3:56.46
800 free Katie Ledecky – 25 Nobody (Titmus at #26) Katie Ledecky – 8:04.79
1500 free Katie Ledecky – 18 Seven Women Tied with 1 each Katie Ledecky – 15:20.48
50 back Fu Yuanhui – 7 Anastasia Fesikova/Kira Toussaint – 3 Liu Xiang – 26.98
100 back Kaylee McKeown – 10 Regan Smith – 7 Kaylee McKeown – 57.45
200 back Kaylee McKeown – 9 Missy Franklin – 4 Regan Smith – 2:03.35
50 breast Benedetta Pilato – 7 Lilly King – 6 Benedetta Pilato – 29.30
100 breast Lilly King – 7 Yulia Efimova/Rebecca Soni – 5 Lilly King – 1:04.13
200 breast Yulia Efimova/Rikke Pederson – 6
Tatjana Schoenmaker – 2:18.95
50 fly Sarah Sjostrom – 22 Three tied at 1 each Sarah Sjostrom – 24.43
100 fly Sarah Sjostrom – 11 Zhang Yufei – 5 Sarah Sjostrom – 55.48
200 fly Jiao Liuyang/Liu Zige – 5 Liu Zige – 2:01.81
200 IM Katinka Hosszu – 18 Ariana Kukors – 2 Katinka Hosszu – 2:06.12
400 IM Katinka Hosszu – 13 Ye Shiwen – 2 Katinka Hosszu – 4:26.36

Most Top 25-Ranked Swims, All Events (Minimum 20)

Rank Swimmer Swims
1 Katie Ledecky 64
2 Sarah Sjostrom 52
3 Adam Peaty 38
4 Katinka Hosszu 33
5 Michael Phelps 30
5 Caeleb Dressel 30
7 Ryan Lochte 20
7 Kaylee McKeown 20

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7 months ago

The FINA rankings and the nuoto list both show McKeon as having 6 top 25 swims in the 100 free.

7 months ago

Keep your eye on Kaylee! I think she snuck up on a few people and she already made this list!

7 months ago

insane for peaty to be number 3 in the last statistic since he’s a 2 event swimmer

Sam B
7 months ago

must be the real deal in Florida, these are ridiculously good splits

7 months ago

Ooh, so how easy would it be to pull historical numbers here too? How many swimmers in the past matched this achievement in their time? I.e. – they could claim all 25 top times in their event(s), in their era. Meagher in the 200 fly? Thorpe? Egerszegi? Fraser? Darnyi? Matthes? Spitz? Weismuller? Ghould? Evans? de Bruijn?

Dressel Peaty > Kathleen Genevieve
Reply to  Eouai
7 months ago

Peaty achieved it last April during GB trials.

Note that dominating sprint events is way harder than distance events, where the field is always weak worldwide.

Reply to  Eouai
7 months ago

Mary T at one time held 14 out of 15 top times in 200 fly – the one she didn’t have was by an East German. If historical records were easier to retrieve, it’d be interesting to see how many she had in top 25.

Grimes/Mcintosh combo is the future
7 months ago

Katie Grimes will own distance events in 2 years time. Cheers!!!


Ally McHugh may take Grimes’s spot in the 800.


they’ll be the faces of distance swimming for sure but I can’t see either breaking 8:04.79 or honestly even close to that

7 months ago

wtf, she will lose to the Queen in Budapest and Paris!

Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi!!!

Grimes/Mcintosh combo is the future
Reply to  TitmusSuperFan
7 months ago

Titmus on top everyday all day. #Budapest22 #WR3:55 #WR1:52

Last edited 7 months ago by Grimes/Mcintosh combo is the future

What’s your prediction for her in the 800?

Reply to  TitmusSuperFan
7 months ago

I bet Titmus chickens out of Worlds altogether

katie’s gator cap :)
Reply to  TitmusSuperFan
7 months ago

girl, ledecky just dunked titmus’s silver medaling time into the trash

Reply to  katie’s gator cap :)
7 months ago

Aaah but Titmus still won the 200 and 400 remember.

katie’s gator cap :)
Reply to  Joel
7 months ago

aaah but who still has world records and the top 64 times in events?

Grimes/Mcintosh combo is the future
Reply to  katie’s gator cap :)
7 months ago

Cry about it. Titmus will smash your Genevieve on any given day.

katie’s gator cap :)

i can smell the copium in your breath

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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