International racing debuts, at the Olympic level, are heart-stoppers.
Team USA’s Katie Ledecky, only 15 years old – the youngest member of the US Olympic Team – left little doubt from the start of the women’s 800 meter freestyle final to the finish, making the race less nerve-racking than most. In control, it was Ledecky against the world record line, for nearly 770 meters. She fell just shy of the mark, swimming a 8:14.63, but still fast enough to break Janet Evans’ 22 year old American Record of 8:16.22, set in Japan, 1989, at the Pan Pacific Games.
It’s been a generation since the swimming community has seen a distance powerhouse like Janet Evans. Here is Janet’s 800 free 1988 Olympic final:
Spain’s Mireia Belmonte Garcia was a distant second, 8:18.76.
Britian’s Rebecca Adlingon, the defending Olympic Champion, was third, 8:20.32. Adlington’s winning time and world record at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, 8:14.10, was set in a hi-tech suit, a Speedo LZR. At that time, Adlington made headlines becoming the first British woman in swimming to win Olympic gold in 48 years.
Adlington’s 800 freestyle 2008 Olympic win: