Sports

Ledecky sets world record during prelims at World Championship

 

Future Stanford swimmer Katie Ledecky disrupted an otherwise routine preliminary session Monday to set a world record in the women's 1,500 meters freestyle in the final heat of the morning at the FINA World Swimming Championships in Kazan, Russia.

Stanford grad Maya DiRado finished fourth in the women's 200 meters individual medley in 2:08.99.

Ledecky's time of 15:27.71 eclipsed her on mark of 15:28.36, set at last year's Pan Pacific Championships. It also shattered the former championships record of 15:36.53, which she set en route to gold in 2013, by almost nine seconds.

"What (coach) Bruce (Gemmell) told me to do was 900 easy, 300 build and 300 my choice, and to be honest, it did feel pretty easy," Ledecky said. "I wasn't kicking much. I think breaking that record is just a testament to the work I've been doing and the shape that I'm in right now. I'm kind of in shock right now."

Ledecky wasn't the only one in shock.

Consider the rest of the field, who were competing for the remaining seven spots for tomorrow night's finals. Ledecky was more than 27 seconds faster than the No. 2 qualifier, Lotte Friis of Denmark.

Consider her teammates, who knew of her race plan – 900 easy, 300 build, 300 choice.

Consider the fans, who were one foot out the door before this final heat of prelims.

Ledecky said she kind of realized she was close to the record at the end of the race, when she could see the crowd waving. She could see where her parents, brother and uncle were sitting, and she could see them waving as well.

"I didn't even want to get up and race any harder, because I felt if I maintained the same pace I was holding, maybe I would still get under (the record)," Ledecky said. "And If I didn't, I wasn't really expecting it."

On a scale of 1-10, she said she feels like an 11.

"I was barely focusing on this morning's swim," Ledecky said. "I was just so relaxed. It's probably one of the coolest world records I've broken . . . just sort of how relaxed I was, and how calm. It's just pretty neat. Hopefully I can just carry that through the rest of the week."

So far, Ledecky is enjoying quite a meet after winning gold in the 400 freestyle Sunday and setting the world record in prelims Monday. Tuesday, if all goes to plan, she'll be swimming in the prelims and semifinals of the women's 200 free and the finals of the 1500.

She expects it to be an exciting day. So does everyone else.

"Hopefully I can swim it pretty similar to how I swam it this morning, maybe a little bit faster," Ledecky said. "But my gosh, I didn't put much focus on it this morning, maybe I shouldn't do that tomorrow, either. For finals, there's always a little bit more energy and excitement, and I've never been somebody who swims slower at finals, so hopefully I can be right on that or a little better. You never know."

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