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Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky is one broken record after another

Ledecky will compete at the U.S. Olympics Team Trials in Omaha, Nebraska, from June 26 to July 3. She'll have plenty of opportunity to break even more world records.

Swimmer Katie Ledecky, 19, has a knack for freestyle world records -- 11 at three distances since 2013, to be precise. With the Olympic trials (June 26-July 3) in sight, she's ready for more.

The Olympic gold medalist separates those records by finding something individually significant about each one -- or, in the cases where she set more than one in the same meet, about each group. "There's a story to each one of them," she says. Here are a few of them:

1. July 30, 2013

What: 1500M final, FINA World Championships, Barcelona

New record: 15:36.53 (-6.01 seconds off previous record)

The first came in what many people call the most exciting distance freestyle race ever. Ledecky and Denmark's Lotte Friis swam within about a second of each other until the last 50-meter interval, when Ledecky outkicked her opponent by 1.28 seconds to finish 2.35 seconds ahead. "The Barcelona ones are special because they were my first," she says.

2. Aug. 3, 2013

What: 800M final, FINA World Championships, Barcelona

New record: 8:13.86 (-.24 seconds)


3. June 19, 2014

What: 1,500M final, Woodlands Swim Club TWST Senior Invitational

New record: 15:34.23 (-2.30 seconds)

In this four-day meet, Ledecky swam 5,300 meters in 15 races. The Olympian won the 1,500M by more than a minute and the 800 by 28.13 seconds.

4. June 22, 2014

What: 800M final, Woodlands Swim Club TWST Senior Invitational

New record: 8:11.00 (-2.86 seconds)

"The two I broke in the Woodlands were pretty unexpected," says Ledecky. "It was cool because I was with my Nations Capital team, not with Team USA, so I got to share those moments with them."


5. Aug. 9, 2014

What: 400M final, U.S. Championships

New record: 3:58.86 (-0.29 seconds)

"[This] was the suited world record, so it was kind of tougher [from] that aspect," Ledecky says. The previous record was set by Italy's Federica Pellegrini in one of the full-bodied rubberized suits that were later banned (though records stood) by the International Swim Federation (they were considered a form of technological doping).


6. Aug. 23, 2014

What: 400M final, Pan Pacific Championships, Gold Coast, Australia

New record: 3:58:37 (-0.49 seconds)

7. Aug. 24, 2014

What: 1500M final, Pan Pacific Championships, Gold Coast, Australia

New record: 15:28.36 (-5.87 seconds)

The weather at the outdoor pool in Australia, with wind, cold and occasional rain, was hardly conducive to record-setting. "It's always fun, interesting, swimming in different conditions. Things pop up like that, and you just have to deal with the circumstances."


8. Aug. 3, 2015

What: 1500M prelims, FINA World Championships, Kazan, Russia

New record: 15:27.71 (-0.65 seconds)

"It was funny," Ledecky says, "because I just had the 400 the night before, and a lot of people were asking me, 'Oh, are you disappointed you didn't break the world record in the 400?' And then I was able to breakthe [1,500] record [again] the next day. When I broke the mile the next time [on Aug. 4], it was with the 200 semi right afterward, and I think a lot of the swimmers, even on the U.S. team, didn't expect that."

9. Aug. 4, 2015

What: 1500M final, FINA World Championships, Kazan, Russia

New record: 15:25.48 (-2.23 seconds)

10. Aug. 8, 2015

What: 800M final, FINA World Championships, Kazan, Russia

New record: 8:07.39 (-3.61 seconds)

"I thought I would get under 8:10. I figured 8:08 would be about the next step," says Ledecky. "Going 8:07 was a little better, so I was really happy with how I ended that week."


11. Jan. 17, 2016

What: 800M final, Arena Pro Swim Series, Austin, Texas

New record: 8:06.68 (-0.71 seconds)

"Just that it was in January," Ledecky replies when asked what made the record special. No distance freestyle world record had ever been set in the northern hemisphere in that month. "Maybe I should try to set one each month, start a new thing."

Bob Bowman, Michael Phelps' coach, had a different reason to call Ledecky's record special after she covered the first 400 in 4:03.22 and the second in 4:03.46. "All I could think of was Janet's record in the 400 that stood forever," says Bowman, referring to the 4:03.85 Evans clocked at the 1988 Olympics, a mark that lasted until 2009. "There was a point people thought no woman would ever break it. And then Katie goes 4:03-4:03. When people ask me what is the most amazing swim I've ever seen, before that I probably would have said Michael's 400 IM at Beijing [2008 Olympics], but now what Katie did might be it."