Katie Ledecky Wins 800-Meter Freestyle

by Seth Millstein

In an unsurprising but no less remarkable development, Katie Ledecky won the 800-meter freestyle final at the 2016 Rio Olympics, taking home the gold medal with a time of 8:04.79 and breaking her own world record in the process. In second place was Jazmin Carlin of Great Britain, who finished in 8:16.17. Hungary's Boglárka Kapás took home the bronze with a time of 8:16.37.

Ledecky's medal in the the 800-meter freestyle is her fifth of the Rio games and her third individual gold. She won the gold in the 200-meter and 400-meter freestyles, as well as the 4x200-meter freestyle relay. Ledecky also took home the silver in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that Ledecky dominated the 800 free. During her qualifying heat the day before, she finished in 8:12.86, faster than any other woman in history has swum that distance. But that's not even Ledecky's personal best: While competing in the Arena Pro Swim Series in Austin last January, she completed the 800-meter freestyle in 8:06.68, setting both a personal and a world record.

It was the 800-meter freestyle that catapulted Ledecky to fame in the first place. During the 2012 games in London, she pulled off an upset in the event, taking home the gold and coming within half a second of setting a new world record. Since then, she's broken no fewer than 12 world records, including the fastest time in the 1,500-meter freestyle — an event that isn't even contested for women in the Olympics. In 2009, the Olympics banned polyurethane and neoprene suits from swimming competitions; since then, Ledecky is the only woman to finish the 400-meter freestyle in under four minutes.

Swimming is in Ledecky's genes. Her mother was a swimmer in college, and qualified three times for the finals during her time at the University of Mexico. Moreover, when Ledecky's maternal grandfather was on a city park board in Willison, North Dakota, he spearheaded the construction of a swimming pool and now has no less than two pools in the city named after him.

Make no mistake: Ledecky is unbelievably talented at what she does. There's a reason Swimmer's World has named her World Swimmer of the Year the last three years in a row. There's no reason to think she has anything less than an extremely bright future ahead of her in swimming, and this almost certainly isn't the last time we'll get to see her compete in the Olympics.