Ledecky Now Owns 6 Fastest 1500s In History After 15:35 In Santa Clara


The 2017 Santa Clara Pro Swim got underway tonight with a couple of timed final distance events, and as usual fans were treated to the Katie Ledecky show.

In the first heat of the women’s 1500 Ledecky demolished the field, negative splitting her way to a time of 15:35.65. The swim is the 5th fastest swim of her career, and therefore the 5th fastest performance of all-time.

She is now the owner of the six fastest swims in history, and seven of the top ten. The swim moves her into #1 in the world for the season by a whopping 28.5 seconds, with Hungary’s Boglarka Kapas now 2nd at 16:04.19.

Here’s a look at the ten fastest performances in history:

1 Katie Ledecky (USA) 15:25.48 2015 World Championships
2 Katie Ledecky (USA) 15:27.71 p 2015 World Championships
3 Katie Ledecky (USA) 15:28.36 2014 Pan Pacific Championships
4 Katie Ledecky (USA) 15:34.23 2014 Woodlands Senior Invitational
5 Katie Ledecky (USA) 15:35.65 2017 Arena PSS – Santa Clara
6 Katie Ledecky (USA) 15:36.53 2013 World Championships
7 Lotte Friis (DEN) 15:38.88 2013 World Championships
8 Lauren Boyle (NZL) 15:40.14 2015 World Championships
9 Katie Ledecky (USA) 15:42.23 2015 Arena PSS – Mesa
10 Kate Ziegler (USA) 15:42.54 2007 Swim Meet of Champions

Ledecky’s dominance in this race is truly mind boggling, especially considering it’s never really been her primary focus since it’s not contested for women at the Olympics.

When Kate Ziegler went 15:42.54 in 2007, she broke Janet Evans‘ 19-year-old world record by 9.56 seconds. Just ten years later, and that swim now sits 10th on the all-time list and Ledecky has been an incredible 17 seconds faster.

In terms of gauging what this swim could mean for Ledecky this summer, it’s tough to tell because she really hasn’t raced the event much over the years. This is the first time she’s done it since the record breaking swim in Kazan. At the Mesa Pro Series in 2015 she was 15:42.23, six weeks earlier in the season than her swim tonight in Santa Clara. She’ll also have to race at US World Trials prior to Worlds this year, something she didn’t have to do two years ago.

Though a world record seems likely at some point this summer, nothing is certain. However, after Budapest she’ll likely own all ten of the fastest swims in history. She’ll race the event three more times this year (prelims & finals at Worlds, US Trials is timed final), and just has to keep all three under 15:38.88, which seems inevitable.

She’s already accomplished that feat in the 800, holding the 13 fastest times ever and 17 of the top 20. She won’t be adding to that list this weekend, as she opted out of both the 800 and the 400 free in favor of the 100 and 200.

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Does Katie have to swim the 1500 at Nationals to be able to swim it in Budapest?


Not bad at all, but splits are very strange to say the least. Especially after 900. Like a drunk person is rushing home and stumbling at each step. Fortunately she still has almost two months to polish the strategy for this race.


I don’t really know how to put this….your analysis is horrible.


You put it very nicely actually without making any personal insults. But it wasn’t an analysis at all because no numbers were presented. It was a personal impression. I can submit the charts that will demonstrate how different her yesterday splits are from other five her best races. But I’m afraid to bore you not knowing what kind of analysis you would like to see. After watching this race for the second time I noticed that the sun maybe a factor. It looks like the pool is oriented north-south therefore at 5-6 pm race the sun can blind swimmers. Is it better “analysis”? Whatever reason was but her splits were strangely unusually uneven jumping suddenly sometimes by more than a… Read more »


Her 500s were 5:11.0; 5:14.5; 5:10.0. Her 50s were pretty consistently 31-mid. There were a couple instances where the 2 50s within a certain 100 had a bigger gap (like 30.8 – 32.1; 31.4 – 30.6). My guess is she was playing around with her tempo to keep things interesting. I know there was one meet where she swam an 800 “easy”/hard and it showed in her 50 splits. I don’t find any of this alarming.


Definitely NOT like a “drunk person stumbling home.”


I don’t know the pool layout but it could be that her lap counter was hitting the pad.

E Gamble

Haven’t you noticed the pattern? Don’t take the bait. ?


Pricke 15:38 is still a smashing time. As you can see not many women have even gone sub 15:40. It,s just her and lotte friis that have gone sub 15:40. That means her wr of 15:25 may never even be broken. At least in this century. She seems to have slowed down as in the past she was breaking world records even in smaller meets seemingly untapered. But even a slow ledecky is winning gold with her slower in season times. 4:01 in the 400. fastest in the world so far 8:15 in the 800. fastest in the world so far ( most women are still struggling to break 8:20 in the 800 free) And now 15:38. fastest in the… Read more »


I’m not sure of your evidence of her “slowing.” She was 15:35, BTW, which is a great time for this meet. She swam “okay” in Rio 9 months ago. And then destroyed the 500/1650 NCAA records this winter. I think she’s doing just fine.


I think ledecky is slower compared to herself especially when you compare her in season times in the past but she,s still fast enough to be dominant. She,s definately slower compared to get past self in season. I don’t think there,s much arguement in that. But ledecky being slower compared to herself is not such a bad thing as 1) her world records are super lofty and 2) she could be changing physically You say ledecky is doing fine and I agree with you. She,’ll still going to win even if she,s slower. I,m not saying she,s not going to be faster in Budapest. She will. But even if she doesn’t improve (which is unlikely) and swims an 8:15 and… Read more »


Although I agree with your main point about how fast Ledecky is, I have to disagree with your assertion about how long her WR might stand. Even if, for the sake of argument, we say that Ledecky will be able to drop the WR down to 15:19 before the end of her career (a six second drop doesn’t seem unreasonable), I would argue that it would last at most thirty years. Evans’ 15:52 lasted for 19 years, and then it was absolutely shattered. My opinion is that there were others who were capable of swimming faster than the record, but didn’t deep down believe that they could do it; I could be wrong, of course, but that’s what I think.… Read more »


N P, nobody is beating ledecky or her records. I don’t care how much they train. It,s not happening.

Florence griffith joyner,s records still stands today. Some records are just too much.


I respect your opinion. I guess will have to revisit this argument in thirty years!


spiderman’s uncle said “with great power comes great responsibility” which in this case means that KL has been swimming at the highest of level for the 5 seasons now so she knows how to handle these races in smaller meets and even qualifying meets (like the us nationals and trials). if she swam 15.35, the 5th fastest time ever, at this meet she is definitely swimming 10 secs faster in Budapest (only a 0.33 secs improvement for each 50). At this point in her career she will only point to the big meets.


She,s still fast even when not at her best though

Ice age swimmer

She’s the Secretariet of female distance swimmers.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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