2020 TOKYO SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES
- When: Pool swimming: Saturday, July 24 – Sunday, August 1, 2021
- Open Water swimming: Wednesday, August 4 – Thursday, August 5, 2021
- Where: Olympic Aquatics Centre / Tokyo, Japan
- Heats: 7 PM / Semifinals & Finals: 10:30 AM (Local time)
- Full aquatics schedule
- SwimSwam Event Previews
- Entry Lists
- Live Results
- Day 7 Finals Heat Sheet
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.