Katie Ledecky Wins 3rd-Straight 800 Free, Becomes 37th Olympian With 10 Medals

2020 TOKYO SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES

American swimmer Katie Ledecky has a pool-full of firsts, bests, mosts, and other various superlatives, and on Saturday she added another: she has joined an exclusive group of three as women who have three-peated in an individual Olympic event.

Ledecky won the women’s 800 free on Saturday morning in Tokyo. That’s her 3rd consecutive gold medal in the event: first winning in 2012 at 15 (that one was the surprise), repeating in 2016 (that one was unavoidable), and now in 2021 (that one brought some nerves).

The only two swimmers to achieve this are Hungarian Krisztina Egerszegi, who won three straight gold medals in the 200 back at the 1988, 1992, and 1996 Olympics; and Australian Dawn Fraser, who won the 100 free at the 1956, 1960, and 1964 Olympics.

Egerszegi was 22 when she won her 3rd, Fraser was 27 when she won her 3rd straight, and Ledecky is now 24.

Ledecky’s time of 8:12.57 was slower than her unparalleled 8:04.79 World Record in 2016 but faster than her breakout 8:14.63 in London in 2012. Her margin in Tokyo, though, was the smallest of her three wins:

Margins of Victory:

  • 2012 – 4.13 seconds
  • 2016 – 11.38 seconds
  • 2020(1) – 1.26 seconds

Young Ariarne Titmus, who won their previous two head-to-head matchups at this meet in the 200 and 400 free, pushed Ledecky the whole way and forced her to work. Ledecky showed the mettle to win anyway, but the world is closing on her. Ledecky is already historically old for elite women’s distance freestylers, which feels odd at only 24, and at 27 the world will likely continue to close on her. But, she at least has a chance at a 4th-straight.

Ledecky did commit after the race to swim at least until the Paris 2024 Olympics, saying that 2028 was a possibility as well.

A handful of others have won three-straight gold medals in relays, like Australian Cate Campbell, who has been on the last three gold medal winning 400 free relays.

That’s her 2nd gold medal and 4th total medal of this meet, as well as her 7th gold medal and 10th medal overall. That makes her one of 37 Olympians in the modern games to have double-digit medals. That list is topped by a swimmer, Michael Phelps, who has 28.

Most All-Time Olympic Medals, Swimmers:

  • Michael Phelps – 28
  • Jenny Thompson – 12
  • Ryan Lochte – 12
  • Dara Torres – 12
  • Natalie Coughlin – 12
  • Mark Spitz – 11
  • Matt Biondi – 11
  • Franziska van Almsick – 10
  • Gary Hall, Jr – 10
  • Natalie Coughlin – 10
  • Allison Schmitt – 10
  • Katie Ledecky – 10

All but one of the swimmers with double-digit medals are Americans, largely thank to the historic relay success. The exception is German Franziska van Almsick, who won 4 silver and 6 bronze medals from 1992 through 2004.

The next non-American with the most medals is Australian Ian Thorpe. Another Australian, Emma McKeon, has 8, with three more chances to join the double-digit club this week.

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Walter
1 month ago

Are you forgetting Natalie Coughlin? 4+5+1=10

SwimmingIsFun
Reply to  Walter
1 month ago

Coughlin has 12 medals

LBSWIM
Reply to  SwimmingIsFun
1 month ago

Some how Natalie has 22 medals up above. 😉

LBSWIM
Reply to  Walter
1 month ago

It was actually 5+6+1=12

SwimmingIsFun
1 month ago

Allison Schmitt has 10 medals!!!

Not Tapered 🏊
1 month ago

Tofoya trying to retire Ledecky after that swim.

Sportinindc
Reply to  Not Tapered 🏊
1 month ago

That was the first Tafoya interview that I haven’t muted during the Games. I obviously missed nothing.

N80m80
1 month ago

Ledecky to the Sandpipers? They seem to be doing good work with their distance swimmers 👀

Philip Johnson
1 month ago

She has nothing to prove now. Anything after is icing on the cake.

N80m80
Reply to  Philip Johnson
1 month ago

Gotta get a four-peat to match the goat. Definitely possible with some good training

MrsTarquinBiscuitbarrel
Reply to  Philip Johnson
1 month ago

Who doesn’t love icing?

Beach bum jason
1 month ago

Any one think she’s done with Stanford she’s switching back coaches and maybe will make some better progress now?

Yozhik
Reply to  Beach bum jason
1 month ago

She was in good form at these Games. We haven’t seen that for all time her training with Meehan. Finally they did something right. But I would agree that she needs to look for another training environment where people know the specifics of training strong but aging talents. I don’t think that Stanford would be a right place.
But who will leave voluntarily California? I wouldn’t.

MrsTarquinBiscuitbarrel
Reply to  Yozhik
1 month ago

Oh, I voluntarily left California. For a year, I told myself. In 1982. And never went back.

SwimShark
1 month ago

Beautiful race and shows what why Ledecky is a true champ! Titmus was close throughout the race but Ledecky didn’t panick. She stayed off her legs until about 650-700. Time was pedestrian by her own standard but she really grind out the win.

Yozhik
Reply to  SwimShark
1 month ago

Last time Ladaxky was faster than today’s result exactly three years ago. What her standards you are talking about? She he’s been competing internationally for 9 years already. It’s time of two generations in competitive swimming and during this long period she had different standards. Her today’s race was superb. Especially if to remember that training with Meehan this Covid season was focusing primarily on sprint.

Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
Reply to  SwimShark
1 month ago

Katie Ledecky would have more in the tank if Katie Ledecky did not attempt the women’s 200 meter/1500 meter freestyle double/double (heats/final). In the future, avoid session doubles at all costs. I can’t imagine the emotional, mental, physical toll of the aforementioned task.

Amy
1 month ago

This is the first Olympics that Ledecky raced two 1500s on her way to racing the 800

Texas Tap Water
Reply to  Amy
1 month ago

This is also the first Olympics that has women’s 1500

Lbswim
Reply to  Texas Tap Water
1 month ago

If we see throwing facts everyone knows, it’s also the first Olympics of a mixed medley relay.

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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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