You could say Katie Ledecky‘s first race as a professional swimmer was memorable. She destroyed one of her world records by five seconds on Wednesday.
The five-time Olympic champion won a 1500m freestyle at a USA Swimming Pro Series meet in Indianapolis in 15 minutes, 20.48 seconds. It’s her first world record since the Rio Olympics. World records are usually broken in August, when swimmers are tapered for major international meets. Not May.
“I knew I was going to have a good swim,” Ledecky told media in Indianapolis but adding she didn’t expect to go that quick. “I’ve just been training really, really well, doing some things I haven’t done before, just, like, times in practice.
“Was pretty surprised when I saw the 20 [seconds next to 15 minutes on the scoreboard]. I knew as it was going on, it was a great swim. Maybe it was going to be 24, 25, 26, somewhere around there. Something under 15:30, I would say. When I saw the 20, yeah, I was pretty shocked.”
Ledecky reacted to the record by smashing her fist in the water and sticking her tongue out before the runner-up touched the wall 49.4 seconds later. Ledecky ended her longest drought between world records since she broke the first of her 14 marks in 2013.
“It’s a feeling that never gets old,” said Ledecky after her first world record since relocating from the Washington, D.C., area to Stanford. “Each one is unique and special.”
She now owns the eight fastest women’s 1500m freestyle times. The next-fastest swimmer, retired Dane Lotte Friis, has a personal best that is 18.4 seconds slower than Ledecky’s world record.
The women’s 1500m free makes its Olympic debut in Tokyo in 2020. Ledecky is undefeated over the distance in five years of senior competition. Her original target for this season in the 1500m free was to break 15:30 after going 15:31 to win 2017 Worlds by 19 seconds.
“Might have to recalibrate some goals a little bit now,” she said. “That’s one I’ll never forget. … couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
Ledecky is racing this week for the first time since turning professional following the NCAA Championships in March, where she competed as a Stanford sophomore.
NBCSN, Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and the NBC Sports app will air live coverage of the meet starting Friday.
Ledecky is also entered in the 400m freestyle (Thursday), 100m freestyle (Thursday), 400m individual medley (Friday), 200m freestyle (Friday), 200m individual medley (Saturday) and 800m freestyle (Saturday).
Other individual U.S. Olympic champions in the field are Nathan Adrian, Matt Grevers, Lilly King, Simone Manuel and Allison Schmitt.
Thursday (7 p.m. ET): USASwimming.org
Friday (7 ET): Olympic Channel, OlympicChannel.com, Olympic Channel app*
Saturday (7 ET): NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app
Olympic Channel coverage also streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for Olympic Channel subscribers.
Swimmers are preparing for the U.S. Championships in July and Pan Pacific Championships in August, the two meets that will determine the 2019 World Championships team.
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