The deets on Katie Ledecky, world record-breaking teen swimmer
American competition swimmer Katie Ledecky is an absolute superstar. Not only is the 18-year-old an Olympic gold medalist (won when she was just 15!), but last year, she broke a world record in the women’s 800-meter freestyle, swimming the 16-lap race in just eight minutes and 11 seconds. On Saturday, that record was broken. . . by herself.
At the Swimming World Championships in Kazan, Russia, Katie beat her own score by 3.61 seconds, making the new world record 8:07.39 seconds. Turns out she can only be beaten by herself, because she’s totally kickass. After she realized what she had done, she tore off one of her swim caps and smashed the water with her hand in celebration, reports TIME.
“I knew that I was capable of going sub-8:10,” she told TIME, “so to go 8:07 means a lot.”
During Saturday’s championships, Katie swam the 200, 400, 800, and 1500 freestyles, as well as being the anchor leg on the 4×200 freestyles (which the team won) — yet she still managed to have the stamina to beat her own world record. Oh, and by the way, she was victorious in all of the freestyles in which she raced.
“It could have been really tiring and it was,” Katie told TIME. “But I recovered very well. I did what I needed to do to set myself up well each time that I got up on the blocks. I’m just proud of how I handled my races and how all this week has gone.”
Katie is also the current record holder in the 400- and 1500-meter freestyle, and she owns the fastest-ever swims in the 500- and 1,650-yard freestyles. So far, she has broken ten world records. NBD. “It’s really neat to say that you’ve done something nobody has done before,” Katie said. “I’ll enjoy this for a few days and then I’ll get back to work and hopefully there’s more to come.”
We have absolutely no doubt that there’s more to come for Katie, who recently deferred enrollment to Stanford University to focus on the 2016 Olympics.
On top of all of that record-breaking and medal-winning she’s been doing, she’s also earned the Swimming World’s Swimmer of the Year and American Swimmer of the Year awards in both 2013 and 2014, and in 2013, she was the FINA Swimmer of the Year. So pretty much, there’s nothing she can’t do.
“I really love to see what she can do,” Lauren Boyle, the silver medalist from New Zealand, told TIME. “It shows what is possible for the human body. It’s very inspiring for me.”
Since Katie has been totally kicking butt in the freestyles, there’s even been talk of rethinking the Olympic format, getting rid of freestyles. But Katie’s not worried. “If freestyle was wiped out I’d sure as heck find a way to get faster in something else,” she told the New York Times. “That’s the beauty of swimming. There are so many events, and if something falls through I’ll find a way to get better at something else.”
“We laugh about how [Katie’s] going to retire some men in this sport, continuing to swim that fast,” Frank Busch, the United States national team director, told the New York Times. “. . . I’d like to see her swim the 400 I.M. or the 200 butterfly because she’d probably do pretty good.”
We would not be surprised about either of those assertions. You go, Katie — and congratulations on your new best time!
Images via Instagram