Katie Ledecky Roars Back in Final 50 of 800 Free to Win First 2019 Worlds Gold


Katie Ledecky will not walk away from the 2019 FINA World Championships without a gold medal after returning from sickness and winning the women’s 800 free Saturday night in Gwangju.

Ledecky took second to Ariarne Titmus on the first night of the meet as she faded to the slowest final split of the in the 400 free. Citing illness, she withdrew from 200 free prelims Tuesday morning, and later, from the 1500 free final. It was unclear if she would return to racing this week.

She swam on the United States’ silver medal 4×200 free relay Thursday, however, posting the third-fastest split in the field, and was the second seed Friday . behind teammate Leah Smith after prelims of the 800 free (8:17.42).

In finals, Ledecky took out her race aggressively  (2:00.19 at the 200) and was at that point over a second ahead of Italian Simona Quadarella. But by the 400-mark, Quadarella had closed that gap to less than half a second, and by the next wall, she had the lead by .06. At the 600, Quadarella’s lead was up to .84 seconds, but then Ledecky started to creep back up on her, .14 behind at the 750.

Ledecky brought it home in 29.19, a second-and-a-half faster than Quadarella’s 30.78, for the gold. Her final time was 8:13.58, only the 20th-fastest swim of her career, but it got the job done. Quadarella finished second in 8:14.99 and Titmus was third in 8:15.70; she notably closed in 28.89. Watch the final 50 below:

Ledecky’s world record from Rio in 2016 is 8:04.79 and Saturday’s swim was still faster than any woman except herself.

After forgoing the opportunity in the 1500, with this win, Ledecky becomes just the second woman in history to win a world title in a single event in four straight chances, joining Katinka Hosszu – who did it earlier in the meet in the 200 IM – in the feat.

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1 year ago

She was really sand-bagging that middle 400

1 year ago

That swim reminded me of a statement in a magazine article around the time of the Rio Olympics that said that Ledecky swims like it is a matter of rent and food. You could tell that she wanted that one badly, but I guess it always seems that way with her. Amazing performance.

bobo gigi
1 year ago

Congrats to KL. A champion never dies. And it’s in adversity we see the true champions.

Reply to  bobo gigi
1 year ago

Nice to see you around these parts again Bobo! 🙂

Texas Tap Water
Reply to  bobo gigi
1 year ago

Bobo, what’s happening with France? It won plenty golds in major meets not long ago, and now it’s nothing. Any reason why? Especially contrasting to the rise of Italy as a swimming power

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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