Ledecky Cruises To Olympic Record 8:12 in 800 Free Heats


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It wasn’t her best time – wasn’t even within 6 seconds, in fact – but Katie Ledecky still smashed the Olympic record in heats of the 800 free.

This certainly isn’t the biggest record Ledecky has broken in Rio, but it’s intriguing in that it shows just how far she’s come in the past four years.

Ledecky was 8:12.86 this morning – pedestrian for her, sure, but it’s still faster than anyone else in history has ever swum the race.

The Olympic record was also the old world record: 8:14.10 from Great Britain’s Rebecca Adlington at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

If you’ll remember back to 2012, Adlington entered the London Olympics as the favorite and qualified first out of heats (in 8:21). But in the next day’s final, Ledecky pulled the upset that rocketed her onto the world radar, going 8:14.63 for the win. But even that swim didn’t surpass Adlington’s record.

In the 4 years since, Ledecky has snagged the world record and subtracted a good 7.5 second from it. She’s now swum faster than the old world record 12 different times – and let’s be honest, she’s probably surpassed it once or twice in practice too.

This morning’s swim sits #8 in Ledecky’s all-time list, and #8 in the all-time swims list too. And if her 3:56 win in the 400 free (a world record by about two seconds) is any indicator, we’ll likely be seeing another world/Olympic record going down tomorrow night in what will be Ledecky’s final individual swim of these Rio Olympics.

Here are the top 800 freestyles in history. Ledecky now holds the top 12 all-time.

Ledecky’s Dirty Dozen:

  1. Ledecky (2016 Austin Pro Swim Series) – 8:06.68
  2. Ledecky (2015 World Championships) – 8:07.39
  3. Ledecky (2016 U.S. Olympic Trials) – 8:10.32
  4. Ledecky (2016 U.S. Olympic Trials heats) – 8:10.91
  5. Ledecky (2014 Woodlands Senior Invite) – 8:11.00
  6. Ledecky (2015 Austri Pro Swim Series) – 8:11.21
  7. Ledecky (2014 Pan Pacific Championships) – 8:11.35
  8. Ledecky (2016 Olympics heats) – 8:12.86
  9. Ledecky (2015 Mesa Pro Swim Series) – 8:13.02
  10. Ledecky (2016 Mesa Pro Swim Series) – 8:13.20
  11. Ledecky (2015 World Championships – split from 1500 free) – 8:13.25
  12. Ledecky (2013 World Championships) – 8:13.86
  13. Adlington (2008 Olympics) – 8:14.10

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5 years ago

I’d say the chances of a sub 8:00 swim at Rio are slim, but just thinking of that as a real possibility is mind blowing. Ledecky is so goal-oriented, I’m sure that’s where her sights are set, and I’m sure she’ll get there eventually.

Reply to  Sw4mmer
5 years ago

Sub 8 is so outrageous that I just assumed it was one of her goals (since Bruce thinks the Big Fat Hairy Goals should be outrageous so you have a reason to get out of bed in the morning). I was surprised, though, by her Rio press conference. When she was asked about sub 8, she said she wasn’t sure that was achievable. (I only saw a quote, not the whole thing, so maybe she expanded on that.)

Joel Lin
Reply to  Sw4mmer
5 years ago

That is an absolutely absurd prediction. Yet I would not be surprised to see it…

Reply to  Sw4mmer
5 years ago

We were saying that before Rio if she wanted to go sub 8 she would have to bring her 400 down to around a 3:54, and she’s starting to get really close to that… We may see it in the next 2 years

Reply to  Sw4mmer
5 years ago

I’m just worried about her new coach. In the fall she will go to a university. What if this turns out like Thorpe? D:
8:12 could still be the winning time for 2020

5 years ago

Thumbs up to cheer on KL to make even more history than she is already made !!!

Reply to  Shehulkswim
5 years ago

Please stop with the upvote pandering. It decreases the quality of discussion on the site. We all want Ledecky to do fast, no matter where your national loyalties lie. Fast swimming is fast swimming, and with what Ledecky is doing, we all have to stop and appreciate the magic

5 years ago

Dear NBC,
I would love to watch all 8 of the 100s in this event. Please don’t cut away.

Pau Hana
Reply to  Yowza
5 years ago

Because it’s Katie I don’t think they’ll cut away … But they’ll probably shrink it to show her family or run a story on her, and Rowdy and Dan won’t be talking about the race in any event. 🙂 thank heavens for the live stream.

Reply to  Yowza
5 years ago

I happen to have a VERY IMPORTANT and thought-provoking response to the NBC-cutting-away-during-events-longer-than-4-minutes thing, that everyone on this thread should absolutely read. But first let’s take a short break before we come back to hear it.

Reply to  Yowza
5 years ago

I have xfinity cable. I get to watch the race without cuts 😀

5 years ago

7:59 has to be her ultimate goal. Maybe not tomorrow, but some day. I say 8:03-8:04 tomorrow.

5 years ago

number 11 ‘1500 free split’ xD

5 years ago

I wonder how many times she has gone faster than this in practice…

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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