Team Ledecky, a Relay to her Own

A fun fact, inspired by a tweet from Alex Braunfeld that read: Question; how many senior girls’ RELAYS went 8:14 this summer in the 800 free relay?

That’s a good question. One with an easy answer.


Only 4 American relays of any age this year have swum an 800 free faster than 15-year old Katie Ledecky did on her own tonight. And two of them were the prelims and finals Olympic relays.

Both of the relays (the one that swam in heats, and the one that swam in finals) for the United States that won gold were each under 8 minutes. The best club relay is the Palo Alto group of Jasmine Tosky, Ally Howe, Rachael Acker, and Alicia Grima swam a 8:13.42 in March; and the women from the University of Minnesota were an 8:14.50 at the Minnesota Grand Prix in November.

Those were the only relay swims better than Ledecky’s 8:14.63 to win gold at the Olympics and mark the second-fastest swim of all-time.

Now, if Ledecky were a college post-grad, that might not be as impressive. Afterall, usually long course 800 free relays are swum by only high-school-level club programs (where big collections of development like that are rare) and on rare occasion college programs off of a taper.

But this is a 15-year old. high-school-level club programs are right in her wheelhouse. She’s in high school, after all.

Here’s where it gets wackier: her time is faster than the 15-16 National Age Group Record in the 800 free relay. And that was a relay from NOVA of Virginia that has at least two high-level Division I NCAA swimmers on it in Rachel Naurath and Alison Haulsee. Of course, Janet Evans’ old record in the 800 of 8:17.12 also was faster than that relay.

More amazing stats about this incredible swim:

  • Her opening 400 time of 4;04.34 was her best time, the fastest ever done by an American 15 or 16-year-old. It would also rank her 9th in the world in 2012, and would have final’ed in the individual 400.
  • Among all swims in the women’s 800 free in history better than 8:20, the best-ever opening 400 splits are: Ledecky 4:04.34, Manaudou 4:05.70, Adlington (WR swim) 4:05.72.
  • This is the second-best swim in history, behind just Rebecca Adlington’s 8:14.10 World Record.
  • The youngest gold medalist in Beijing was diver Chen Roulin who won two gold medals. She was 15 years, 241 days old as of the 2008 opening ceremonies. Ledecky was 15 years, 132 days old as of this year’s opening ceremonies.
  • Even opening in a National Age Group Record, Ledecky’s closing 400 meters of 4:10.30, without a dive, would have ranked her faster than all but two swimmers in her age group in the United States this season, and rank her 13th in history in 15-16’s in the United States.

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Wow. What a great way to frame this swim. One for the ages. I wonder how many high school boys are going that fast.


I think her race was fantastic. I was hopping she would brake the OR.


Also faster than the 15-16 girls NAG record in the 800 fr. relay.
Absolutely insane.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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