Olympic champion Katie Ledecky delivered the goods during this past week’s World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, tying a record set by her former Olympic teammate Michael Phelps in the process.

Ledecky sealed the deal with a decisive win in the 1500-meter freestyle, marking her 15th individual world title. Phelps may still be the most decorated Olympian in history — he has 28 medals: 23 gold, three silver, and two bronze — but he also holds 15 individual world titles.


THAT’S KATIE LEDECKY!@katieledecky is the first person to win five world titles in two different events AND she ties Michael Phelps for the most individual world golds in swimming (15).

And she won this 1500m free world title by 17 seconds. 🤯 #AQUAFukuoka23 pic.twitter.com/y6WeHj99IJ

— NBC Olympics & Paralympics (@NBCOlympics) July 25, 2023

Ledecky, 27, clocked her third best time ever in the event — 15:26.27 — and she finished with a 17-second lead on her closest competitor, Italy’s Simona Quadrella.

Katie Ledecky just won the 1500m freestyle World Title by so much that she was the only person on camera when she touched the wall.

Once again, Katie swimming so fast that she looks like she’s the only one swimming.

Greatest freestyler of all-time, no contest. pic.twitter.com/xSUg7M6gJX

— Kyle Sockwell (@kylesockwell) July 25, 2023

“It hurt a lot, but I am really happy with the outcome,” Ledecky said just after the race finished. “The secret is just a lot of hard work and having really great people around me, including my coaches over the last 10-plus years.”

1500🥇Pretty pumped about that one if you can’t tell 😂 Thank you all for the support & Go USA 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/2UH4ijWTkb

— Katie Ledecky (@katieledecky) July 25, 2023

Ledecky responded to the news that she had tied Phelps’ record, noting that she had looked up to him long before they were teammates — Phelps’ Olympic career began in 2000, while hers did not take off until 12 years later.


“I’ve known Michael for many years now, looked up to him as a little kid,” Ledecky said later in a press conference. “Just never really imagined I would be in this position. It’s always an honor to win a medal for Team USA, especially gold.”

Ledecky could yet topple the record entirely, with her 800-meter race still to go on Friday and Saturday.

Phelps, who has seen a number of his records fall since his retirement after the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, seems unbothered — and even excited — about the prospect.

Phelps celebrated alongside 21-year-old Leon Marchand, a French swimmer, who took down his “untouchable” record in the 400 Individual Medley. Phelps initially set the world record in 2002 with a time of 4:11.09, breaking it again in Beijing in 2008 with a time of 4:03.84. All told, Phelps held the world title in that event for 20 years and 342 days — until Sunday.

When Marchand dropped a full second off that time, finishing with a time of 4:02.50, Phelps was on hand to congratulate him — and award him his gold medal.

Phelps even provided commentary throughout the race, cheering Marchand as he raced to victory and a new world record — and saying that he believed the 21-year-old had the potential to break four minutes in the grueling event.


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