Most ‘World Records,’ or even ‘National Records’ are pretty easy to pick out. In many cases, when poring over results, a well-trained eye can at least get a good sense of what sorts of times to look for when seeking major record-breaking swims.
And then, there’s FINA Junior World Records.
On Thursday morning, in prelims, at the 400 free relay, Katie Ledecky broke the official FINA Junior World Record, which currently sits at a 4:06.30. Ledecky was a 4:05.27 in prelims at the 2014 Mesa Grand Prix.
The existing records, when approved earlier this year, were set as the FINA Junior World Championships Record; since Ledecky didn’t go to the FINA Junior World Championships, that record belongs to Russian Elena Sokolova from back in 2008 – which is actually one of the old Junior World Records there is.
Ledecky wasn’t at the FINA Junior World Championships because she was busy last summer winning gold at the regular World Championships, and that’s why this record wasn’t immediately recognizable. That’s because Ledecky, who is only 17-years old, is the second fastest 400 meter freestyler in history at 3:59.82 from the 2013 Worlds.
Still, though, this mid-season, unrested, prelims swim without much doubt about her status to qualify for finals, will enter the FINA World Record books as the new Junior World Record. Even though Ledecky swam her lifetime best in the same time frame as many other world records, and at a FINA sanctioned meet, and at a meet where she was drug-tested multiple times to verify the legitimacy of her performances.
So now you know the target to watch for in finals, where Ledecky will likely break the record again. Odds are that she’ll break this record many, many times over the next year, until eventually she goes another lifetime best, at which point all will be right in the records world again.