Katie Ledecky proved once again she is the best female swimmer of our time Tuesday night when she won gold in the women's 200-meter freestyle. She finished in 1 minute 53.73 seconds, edging out Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom, who won silver with a time of 1:54.08.
"I did come pretty close to throwing up during that last 50," Ledecky said. "I knew I just needed to get my hand on the wall and be done. Everything was hurting."
Up next for Ledecky is the 800-meter freestyle Friday. If she wins, Ledecky will join Debbie Meyer (1968) as just the second female in Olympics history to win three individual freestyle gold medals in the same Games. But Ledecky could do something more extraordinary: break the eight-minute mark, a feat that, up until this point, has been seen only in the men's competition.
Ledecky has lowered the world record in the 800-meter freestyle by more than seven seconds in 29 months to its current 8:6.68. Before that, it took 26 years to lower the record by the same amount.
Ledecky already set a world mark in the 400-meter freestyle in Rio with a sizzling time of 3:56.46, making her the second woman (Federica Pellegrini, 2009) to swim it in less than four minutes. Extrapolating her time, Ledecky would swim the 800-meter free in 7:52.92. While it's unreasonable to think she can maintain her 400 pace for twice the distance, that seven-second cushion could get her there.