Katie Ledecky’s win in the women’s 800-meter freestyle on Saturday pushed her past Michael Phelps for the record of most individual swimming golds at the world championships with 16.
She also made history by becoming the first swimmer ever to win six consecutive world titles in one event by notching her sixth straight 800-meter freestyle win. Ledecky’s first win was at age 15 and the 26-year-old has not lost in the event since.
Ledecky never trailed in winning the 800-meter in 8:08.87, four seconds off her 2016 world record time and also 4.44 seconds faster than second-place finisher Li Bingjie of China. Ariarne Titmus of Australia took the bronze at the meet in Fukuoka, Japan.
“I never dreamt of even coming to meets like this,” Ledecky told reporters in Japan. “To be here and having a bunch of world championships now — it is amazing.”
Ledecky had tied Phelps’ record with a win in Tuesday’s 1500-meter freestyle by a whopping 17.04 seconds over second-place finisher Italian Simona Quadarella.
“It’s an honor. I’ve known Michael for many years now, looked up to him as a little kid,” Ledecky said in a press conference after Tuesday’s race.
She also earned a silver in the 400 freestyle and the 4×200 relay during the meet.
A Maryland native, Ledecky is also the first person to win at least five world titles in two different events — the 800-meter freestyle and the 1500-meter freestyle.
When including relay events, Ledecky’s 25 total world championships medals and 21 golds are both records for females. The overall record of 33 medals and 26 golds belong to Phelps. Ryan Lochte has 27 world championship medals.
Ledecky is a seven-time Olympic gold medals and the record holder in both the 800- and 1500-meter events. She will be the favorite to win gold in both in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
–Field Level Media