WATCH: Katie Ledecky Breaks Meet Record in 3 of 4 Finals at 2021 US Open


Katie Ledecky made her eagerly anticipated post-Tokyo debut in Greensboro last week, and she did not disappoint. In her first long course meet since moving her training base to the Univerity of Florida, under coach Anthony Nesty, Ledecky took down the U.S. Open meet records in the 200, 400 and 800 free, and dominated the 1500, although she was off her own meet record.

800 Free – 8:12.81

Ledecky swam an 8:12.81 to win the 800 free. She opened the race with a 59.26 to make her the only sub-1:00 woman in the field and had established a lead of nearly 3 seconds by the 200-meter mark with a 2:00.91.

By the halfway point, Ledecky was 6 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Leah Smith‘s 4:11.19 with a 4:05.68. That split for Ledecky was just under a second slower than her opening split of 4:04.70 at the Tokyo Olympics. Ledecky kept up the pace on the back half of the race, ultimately touching with an 8:12.81.

That swim for Ledecky is less than 0.30 seconds slower than the time she swam this summer in Tokyo to claim Olympic gold of 8:12.57. The swim marks Ledecky’s 17th-quickest performance ever in the event and broke her US Open meet record, improving upon the 8:14.59 she posted back in 2019.

400 Free – 4:00.51

After pulling out a body length ahead by the end of the first 100, Ledecky won the event in 4:00.51, breaking her own U.S. Open meet record from 2019. She finished with a sub-1:00 100, mimicking her speed from prelims when she swam the last 100 in 58.70. Ledecky split 28.15/30.40/30.43/30.94/31.22/30.27/29.91/29.19 in finals.

Ledecky finished ten seconds ahead of second-place Erin Gemmell, who finished in 4:10.12 and is just 16 years old.

200 Free – 1:55.47

Ledecky U.S. Open Meet Record for the second time in a day with a 1:55.47 in the 200 free finals, winning by over three seconds.

Coming into the morning, the meet record stood at 1:56.24, a mark which Ledecky set back in 2019, when this meet was held at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center, in Atlanta, Georgia. Ledecky took down that record in prelims with a 1:56.06, then she shaved nearly another six-tenths of a second off of that time in the finals swim.

Morning splits: 27.59/29.27/29.50/29.70
Evening splits: 27.32/29.00/29.35/29.80

1500 Free – 15:45.32

Ledecky was extremely consistent with her mile splitting, holding between 31.3 and 31.8 throughout the race. Ledecky was able to close with a strong 30.29 on her final 50 meters, touching first — by 36 seconds — in 15:45.32. The mile was the one event where she missed the meet record, which she still owns at 15:35.98 from 2019.

When asked about her consistency with her splits, she stated “That’s what I train for, so I’m happy about that.”

Ledecky was the only athlete to swim the race under 16 minutes; Sierra Schmidt was the next closest competitor (16:21.56).

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2 years ago

Excellent work by Ms. Ledecky. I wonder if her left arm is coming up higher on the recovery. If so that’s good, the elbow seemed a little low to me at the Olympics.

2 years ago

The main question at this meet about Katie Ledecky was if the change of coach and training environment made a difference. If we see something like sjostromish or hosszuish when changing of long term coach at the age of 24 caused almost immediate outburst in performance. And it wasn’t just some improvement. They did it at the world record level crashing old standards to the level almost unreachable for currently active swimmers.
And the answer is “NO”. We have seen same powerful Katie Ledecky, but nothing really new. The only thing that I noticed gladly – she was in the good mood, satisfied with what she did in the pool. I haven’t seen that since May 2018.

Reply to  Yozhik
2 years ago

One meet isn’t the end of the story. We shall see.

Georgia Rambler
Reply to  Yozhik
1 year ago

Less than 2 months including cross country move, a very short time indeed. Plus she already has those impossible times… Agree on good spirits, except that she looked tired after the 1500 and the camera caught her stifling a yawn as she got ready to step up on the blocks for that race. She seems very happy in her new environment and that bodes well for the future.

Stan Crump
Reply to  Yozhik
1 year ago

The one thing I noticed about her swims, especially her longer ones, was the ability to swim the last 100 very fast. In the last couple of years I have generally noticed that the fast front halves have cost her at the end of her races. Earlier in her career, that was not the case. She seems faster on the last 100 in the 4, 8 and 1500 this meet.

So, yes, there has been improvement, I think. It will take some time, but I think she has her best swims, for the most part, ahead of her.

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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