In Crushing The 400 Freestyle Field, Katie Ledecky Also Beat A Tougher Opponent: Her Own Goals

RIO DE JANEIRO - It’s a good thing Katie Ledecky thinks competing against herself is fun.

Otherwise, there would be little about racing to keep her entertained.

After only 100 meters of Sunday’s Olympic final in the 400-meter freestyle, Ledecky was a body length ahead. Just that quickly, she had reduced the race to Katie against Katie, a chase of her own world record, in which she also became triumphant.

The numbers on her winning time would be so stunning they made bronze medalist teammate Leah Smith gasp. “3:56?” Smith could be seen saying as she congratulated Ledecky in the water after the race.

Ledecky had bypassed the 3:57s entirely.

The exact time was 3 minutes, 56.46 seconds, nearly two seconds faster than the mark (3:58.37) Ledecky had set at the Pan Pacific Championships two years ago. It was the largest drop in the 400-meter world record since 1976.