Katie Ledecky breaks 1,500m freestyle world record: ‘It hurt a lot’

Katie Ledecky is having a great time at her first competitive event of the season at the FINA Swimming World Cup. The star American swimmer set a world record in the 1,500m freestyle on Saturday night at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.

“I knew the record was possible just based on some things I’ve done in practice, especially my distance stuff (as it was) was really good this fall,” Ledecky said. “So I felt locked into the rhythm.”

The 10-time Olympic champion – who doesn’t compete in short-course events very often – finished in 15:08.24, taking almost 10 seconds off the previous record set by Germany’s Sarah Wellbrock (15:18.01) in 2019.

Katie Ledecky of the United States celebrates after winning the 1,500m freestyle in world record time at the World Cup Short Course Swimming Finals at the Pan Am Sports Center in Toronto, October 29, 2022.
Katie Ledecky of the United States celebrates after winning the 1,500m freestyle in world record time at the World Cup Short Course Swimming Finals at the Pan Am Sports Center in Toronto, October 29, 2022.

Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images


Canada’s Summer McIntosh, who also set a junior world record when she beat Ledecky in the 400 free on Friday, finished first in the 400 medley in 4:21.49 to lead a Canadian sweep.

“Throughout the race I felt really in control and strong, so I’m really happy,” she said.

Sydney Pickrem was second in 4:28.45 and Bailey Andison was third in 4:29.36.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old from Toronto, shaved almost two seconds off the previous world junior mark set by China’s Shiwen Ye (4:23.33) in 2012.

Ledecky, a Native of Marylandshe took gold ahead of Brazil’s Beatriz Dizotti (15:48.82) and Canada’s Laila Oravsky, who was third in 16:16.86.

“It’s so unreal to be a part of something so amazing,” Oravsky said. “That was the fastest 1,500 he’s ever swum and I was a part of that. It’s crazy.”

Canada’s Maggie McNeil improved her national record in the women’s 50m butterfly, finishing first in 24.75 seconds. American Beata Nelson won the women’s 100 backstroke and Shaine Casas of the US finished first in the men’s 200m individual medley.

One of the biggest roars from the near-capacity crowd came at Ledecky’s finish. She splashed the water after looking up at the scoreboard to see her world record.

“Honestly most of that emotion was because it hurt a lot,” he said. “When something hurts so much, you want to see a great result like this. It was mostly happiness. It felt good and I was very happy with the result.”

She returned to the pool shortly after for the 200 free and took silver in 1:52.31 behind Hong Kong’s Siobhan Bernadette Haughey.

“I didn’t have any super kind of preparation for this meet,” Ledecky said. “I just wanted to come and compete with some international swimmers. These meets (Toronto and next week in Indianapolis) are on North American soil, so I just had fun with them.”

Ledecky’s feat comes just over a year after she claimed it the first gold medal in the women’s 1,500m freestyle at the Tokyo Olympics.

“I just tried to enjoy it and enjoy every moment,” CBS Post-Olympics co-anchor Gayle King told CBS Mornings.

Ledecky said she is already looking forward to the next summer games.

“I really hope to have the opportunity to represent Team USA in Paris,” he said. “… I’ll be back with some new goals for 2024.”

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