Will Swim Star Katie Ledecky Get The 400 Free World Record Back?

Well, it’s not hers anymore, and I don’t think so. I don’t see that happening this year, though I’d love to be proven wrong.

10-time Olympic medalist Katie Ledecky lost her 400m free world record to Aussie swim star Ariarne Titmus. At the 2022 Australian Swimming Championships Titmus dropped a 3:56.40, shaving 0.06 seconds off Ledecky’s 2016 Olympic swim of 3:56.46.

We all hoped these titans would go head-to-head in Budapest, but, as SwimSwam reported back in April, Titmus pulled out of World Champs to focus on Commonwealth Games. There was still hope of a face-off at Duel in Pool, scheduled for August 19-21, but Titmus is unsure. Titmus told Reuters:

“Still deciding on Duel in the Pool… I know people are looking to see if I’ll be racing Katie, it’s always a very highly anticipated battle. But the battle with her comes with external pressure… Last year was huge for me, mentally too, a lot of pressure around my races. I didn’t really want to have to deal with that pressure again”

I don’t see a Ledecky 400m free world record this summer, but I’m not betting against her in 2023 or 2024. I remain bullish on Ledecky’s 400m free. I think the Titmus challenge could push Ledecky back into 3:56 range.

Interestingly, on the last SwimSwam Breakdown, editor-in-chief Braden Keith said he could see several swimmers in the 3:57-3:58 range by 2024. And international SwimSwam reporter, Loretta Race, said she sees Titmus shaving more time off her world record. What do you think?


My Ledecky predictions this year have been weak. My U.S. International Team Trials 800m free prediction was way off. However, 400m free prediction was spot-on. See my Katie Ledecky 2022 World Championships predictions:

  • 400 free – 3.58.91 – for the gold
  • 800 free – 8:07.88 – for the gold
  • 1500 free – 15:28.61 – for the gold

But who cares what I think. It’s all about what you think. Drop your comments below.

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Opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the interviewed guests do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of the hosts, SwimSwam Partners, LLC and/or SwimSwam advertising partners.

This is a Gold Medal Media production presented by SwimOutlet.com. Host Gold Medal Mel Stewart is a 3-time Olympic medalist and the co-founder of SwimSwam.com, a Swimming News website.

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2 years ago

Not bad Mel. I thought she’d be another second faster than she was today.

2 years ago

Titmus swimming next to her is what she needs. The last 2 big races, Titmus swam past her in the final 100.

If she can outsprint Titmus down the stretch, then a new WR could result.

2 years ago

The 400 free for women will be her 1st final on the 1st evening in Budapest.
She’ll be fresh as a daisy.
Will she go all out, or just go for a minimum expenditure win, to keep something in the tank for the championship days to come?
What will McIntosh and Pallister do to push her…
The last question is – does she have a 3:56.2 or less in her.

Last edited 2 years ago by swifter
2 years ago

History says 22 years and under for WR in 400m Free women’s

Reply to  Stephen
2 years ago

History said women 25 & up don’t win 400 or longer, but that was before this year’s worlds.

2 years ago

It seems like a bit of a stretch this year but I certainly think Ledecky can better her PB and reclaim the world record. I also believe Titmus might be capable of going faster as well though so that window to do so for Ledecky may be narrow.

However I’ve watched Ledecky long enough to know not to doubt her. The last time she has been seriously challenged by another swimmer at all was Lotte Friis back in 2013. Between then and Titmus’ rise Ledecky has really only had herself as motivation. I’m excited to see how this new rivalry will unfold.

Tracy Kosinski
2 years ago

6 months ago I would’ve said no.

But it’s Ledecky, and she’s dropped some times lately that I didn’t think she could get back to.

I’m pretty sure she wants the WR back, and that in itself is dangerous 🙂

Never underestimate the GOAT.

Reply to  Tracy Kosinski
2 years ago

I’m in the same boat. 6 months ago I would’ve said she’s past her peak, but she went under 8:10 at trials. We can’t assume this means anything for the 400, but 3:57 from last year to 3:56 low this year is not out of question.

Last edited 2 years ago by Swam7
Tracy Kosinski
Reply to  Swam7
2 years ago

Absolutely, and something tells me her performances this year will kick 2021 to the curb. She’s never really had the competition she has now, so, these girls could very well push her to it. Titmus, McIntosh….seems like they’ve given her a reason to take it back.

2 years ago

The answer is: no. I would bet most of my personal possessions on this.

However, she will probably go 3:57 high, 3:58 low, still breaking or almost breaking the World Championship meet record, being faster than anyone had ever been in a super suit, faster than any other American by several seconds, and still being world champion.

A 3:56.4 in the women’s 400 free is extra stellar. Like the women’s 400 IM, the rest of the world is trying to break 4:00 in the 400 free- much like in the 400 IM a sub-4:30 is still very headline worthy, as is breaking 4:00. Let us not devalue the meaning of a 3:58 much as we have not demeaned the value… Read more »

Last edited 2 years ago by swimfast
Georgia Rambler
Reply to  swimfast
2 years ago

Nicely said. As a historian, I am not fond of predictions but KL seems genuinely happy at Florida and from what I gather, her training group has gotten used to and accepted her as a member. Noticed at the Trials when Kieran and Trey finished 1-2, she was standing behind the blocks, changed into a practise suit, waiting to congratulate them with a big grin on her face. A happy Katie usually swims very well indeed, tho Nesty said her training was a work in progress, so we shall see.

Hooked on Chlorine
2 years ago


About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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