Distant Seconds

Is Katie Ledecky the best ever?
August 03, 2015

AT THE 2015 FINA World Championships that begin this week in Kazan, Russia, freestyler Katie Ledecky won't be racing the field so much as chasing after the world records she has set and reset over the last three years. Such is the life of today's most dominant swimmer, who graduated from Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, Md., in June. In the 400-, 800- and 1,500-meter free, the three events Ledecky owns, the 18-year-old is a lock to swim away with gold—and the races probably won't be close. Compare the margin of victory in her world-record-setting wins with those of Janet Evans, the last American to dominate the same events.

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]

10m

20m

30m

40m

50m

400 m

Aug. 21, 2014

Sept. 22, 1988

Distance ahead of second-place finisher

800 m

June 19, 2014

Date of Race

Aug. 20, 1989

1,500 m

Aug. 21, 2014

March 26, 1988

PHOTOCHRIS HYDE/GETTY IMAGES (LEDECKY TOP) PHOTOMATT ROBERTS/GETTY IMAGES (LEDECKY STANDING)Katie Ledecky PHOTOTONY DUFFY/ALLSPORT (EVANS)Janet Evans CHART

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)