Watch Katie Ledecky Smash 1500 World Record – 15:20.48 (VIDEO)


Originally reported by Karl Ortegon.

It didn’t take long. In the very first race of Katie Ledecky‘s professional career, she has broken her own world record in the 1500 free.

Taking a full five seconds off of her old mark and racing at the 2018 Pro Swim Series in Indy, Ledecky charged to a 15:20.48, finishing almost fifty seconds ahead of 2nd place’s Erica Sullivan (16:09.88). This is the first best time in long course in this event for Ledecky in three years– her previous best, which also stood as the previous world record, was a 15:25.48 from the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia. That’s a clean five full seconds off of the old mark.

Video courtesy of USA Swimming. 


200 split 2:00.25 30.99
400 split 4:04.88 31.17
800 split 8:11.70 30.82
1000 split 10:14.83 30.87
Final time 15:20.48 29.22

In Budapest, Ledecky was a disappointing 8:12.68 — she split faster than that in her race today by almost a full second. Additionally, after (relatively speaking) cruising the 400, she never went above 31.0 again, showcasing her remarkable pacing abilities and immense grit.

This was Ledecky’s first official swim as a professional athlete after she announced in March she’d be foregoing her remaining two seasons of NCAA eligibility. Ledecky raced for the Stanford Cardinal the last two seasons, dominating the distance events in the collegiate world. That said, Ledecky was unable to produce best times last summer at the 2017 World Championships, and she started to fall off of her mark in yards this season, too.

In less than two months since the 2018 NCAAs, however, it’s as if she’s a teenager again, going big lifetime bests with every swim.

Ledecky is now a full eighteen (18) seconds faster than anyone else in history– the next best performer, ever, is Denmark’s Lotte Friis, who went a 15:38.88 in 2013. That time actually came during a tight race with Ledecky, who was then just 16, at the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona. Ledecky won gold there with a 15:36.53, which was a WR at the time.

Ledecky, 21 years old, now holds the eight fastest times in this event in history.


  1. Katie Ledecky – 15:20.48 (2018)
  2. Katie Ledecky – 15:25.48 (2015)
  3. Katie Ledecky – 15:27.71 (2015)
  4. Katie Ledecky – 15:28.36 (2014)
  5. Katie Ledecky – 15:31.82 (2017)
  6. Katie Ledecky – 15:34.23 (2014)
  7. Katie Ledecky – 15:35.65 (2017)
  8. Katie Ledecky – 15:36.53 (2013)


  1. Katie Ledecky (USA) – 15:20.48 (2018)
  2. Lotte Friis (DEN) – 15:38.88 (2013)
  3. Lauren Boyle (NZL) – 15:40.14 (2015)
  4. Kate Ziegler (USA) – 15:42.54 (2007)
  5. Alessia Filippi (ITA) – 15:44.93 (2009)
  6. Boglarka Kapas (HUN) – 15:47.09 (2015)
  7. Jazmin Carlin (GBR) – 15:47.26 (2013)
  8. Mireia Belmonte (ESP) – 15:50.89 (2017)

In This Story


  1. Steve Nolan says:

    The camera was on her for basically a whole minute after she finished…while everyone else was still swimming, bahah. A frantic cut to show the others hitting the wall.

    I also was just randomly clickin’ around the video, at the 1000 (10:40ish in the video) she was the only person you could see in the pool for like, 15 seconds. A full wide shot! No one else going either direction! That was new.

  2. Caeleb Dressel Will Win 9 Gold Medals in Tokyo says:

    I was worried about her. I thought she was declining a lot. But then…. wow. No words. Katie Ledecky showed she is still at her best.

  3. GLEE says:

    Don’t want to put the mocca on her , but such a champion , we can only imagine that <15:00:00 is not far from reality for her.

    • Jim C says:

      Obviously she can go faster than 15 minutes in SCM. She will very likely go faster than the SCM record in LCM later this year.

  4. Pvdh says:

    Her stroke looks very controlled compared to the wild style of her early career.

  5. samuel huntington says:

    speechless, 18 seconds faster than anyone else, over one second per 100!

  6. X Glide says:

    Is she back with Bruce Gemmell or is she still training at Stanford?

  7. Snarky says:

    Fifteen minutes of my life well spent. Other than the crappy music and lame cheering that was awesome.

  8. SwimFL says:

    Her technique is different. There is no loping stroke with a lot of head movement. I am glad to see her have a smooth stroke.

  9. Sir Swimsalot says:

    Such a pleasure to watch her kick major butt after last year.

  10. Just Sayin says:

    Beating your own world record by 5 seconds #justledeckythings

  11. E P says:

    A master at her craft. Friggin’ impressive swim.

  12. Wilson says:

    DJ: How about some Eye of the Tiger!? Please choose inspirational and tempo appropriate songs that reflect the swimmers! Background songs were so off putting. NextGen swimmers are watching! No way these songs would have been selected for the same men’s race.

  13. Blue Phoenix says:

    That was mesmerising!!! It’s otherworldly how this superwoman is constantly able to break world records. Next Pan Pacs will be really fun to watch!!

  14. Tea rex says:

    I didn’t realize the start list was so stacked! Ledecky swimming between an open water national champ and an Olympic medallist, with a half dozen All Americans in the heat. And she lapped many of them… LONG COURSE!!!

    I need to go change my trousers now.

  15. Dude says:

    She’s back!!!

  16. science geek says:

    I kept tearing up as she pulled away from record pace

  17. phelps swims 200 breast rio says:

    Comparing her recent 15:20 to the men’s Olympic 1500 finals, she would have won gold in 1968 and 1972. She would have placed 4th in 76, 5th in 80, 5th in 84, 7th in 88, 8th in 92, and 8th in 96. In 2000, she would have just missed out as 15:19 placed 8th.

  18. swim2fit says:

    I’m totally not against the music playing during the mile races- but slow John Meyer?? Laaaaame.I would choose like lyricless deep house music (pleasant, not booming bass/techno) it would’ve given this world record a much more transcendent soundtrack. OR have fun with it and play Little Mermaid songs…or Dory on repeat saying “just keep swimming”. USA Swimming, if you’re gonna play music during history making, make it appropriate! (we can assume all times Ledecky swims history could be in the making) ps- I have absolutely no problem with JM in general

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About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majors in Media Studies and American Studies at Claremont McKenna College. When she's not writing about swimming or baseball, you can probably find her listening to a podcast or in a pool ... and/or watching Seinfeld, which she just realized is funny.

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