Who Was Officially the First Olympic Record Holder in the Women’s 1500 Free?

On Tuesday evening in Tokyo (Tuesday morning in the United States), the first-ever Olympic races in the women’s 1500 meter freestyle were swum in Tokyo.

On the television broadcasts, there was some uncertainty as to whether the winner of the first heat, and the winner of each subsequent faster heat, was officially declared as an Olympic Record holder, as the official Olympic broadcast was not recognizing them as such.

As it turns out – that’s because they weren’t.

SwimSwam reached out to the Olympic Studies Center, which is the official research and record-keeping arm of the International Olympic Committee, to ask about which was the first Olympic Record.

According to them, that becomes a FINA question, as sport governing bodies are responsible for tracking and interpreting records, even Olympic records.

According to FINA’s new executive director Brent Nowicki, in new Olympic events, the fastest time following heats becomes the Olympic Record.

That means, officially, that Katie Ledecky, appropriately, will receive first official credit for the Olympic Record in this event. The same will be true later in the meet when the heats of the other two new Olympic events are swum – the mixed 400 medley relay and the men’s 800 free.

So Ledecky’s swim from the final heat of 15:35.35 stands as the official Olympic Record heading into the event final. Ledecky, of course, is the World Record holder in the event with a best time of 15:20.48, and though she hasn’t won gold yet through her first two event finals (silver in the 400, no medal in the 200), she is a prohibitive favorite to win this 1500 and lower her own Olympic Record.

Unofficial “Olympic Best” Progression, Women’s 1500 Free, Prior to Final:

  1. Katrina Bellio, Canada – 16:24.37, Heat 1
  2. Marlene Kahler, Austria – 16:20.05, Heat 2
  3. Viktoria Mihalyvari-Farkas, Hungary – 16:02.26, Heat 3
  4. Erica Sullivan, United States – 15:46.67, Heat 4
  5. Katie Ledecky, United States – 15:35.35, Heat 5 (Official Olympic Record)

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1 year ago

“On the television broadcasts, there was some uncertainty…” this fragment [see above for full context] for me sums up how “prepared” the US broadcast team is.

It’s not as though this event was a surprise, or that this ruling would need to be researched. sigh. I know my “I am tired of rowdy and sick of his broadcasting” confirmation bias is shining through, but c’mon. Maybe, you know, know the details instead of ignoring Sweden on the 400fr

1 year ago

Ok but it was though

1 year ago

Remember the stories after the women’s 100 back prelims about how many times the Olympic record was broken… does this mean only the last record counted?

Karl Boss
Reply to  Eagleswim
1 year ago

No because that isn’t a new event.

Reply to  Karl Boss
1 year ago


Reply to  Karl Boss
1 year ago

What a bizarre distinction.

Reply to  Eagleswim
1 year ago

It’s really not that bizarre.

Reply to  Eagleswim
1 year ago

I don’t think the same applies for the 100 back prelims bc it’s an event that had already existed beforehand.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. 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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