Not held in other editions
| Event type

1,500 metres Freestyle, Women

Date26 – 28 July 2021
LocationOlympic Aquatics Centre, 2-1, 2chome, Tatsumi, Koto-ku, Tatsumi-no-Mori Seaside Park, Tokyo, Japan
Participants33 from 22 countries

Women had never before swum 1,500 metre freestyle at the Olympic Games, although the event had been on the World Championship Program since 2001. It was elected to add the event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and also add the 800 freestyle for the men.

Katie Ledecky had won the World Championship in 2013, 2015, and 2017, but had to withdraw from the event at the 2019 Worlds because of illness. She had also set the last six world records in the event and had the 23 fastest times ever swum, marking her a prohibitive favorite.

The only possible problem for Ledecky was that she was swimming the 1,500 final on 28 August, less than 75 minutes after she had swum the 200 free final, in which she finished fifth. Ledecky led the qualifying by six seconds over China’s Wang Jianjiahe, with American Erica Sullivan setting a PR to qualify third in 15:46.67.

The final was dominated by Ledecky as she never trailed and eventually won the first gold medal in this event by over four seconds. Wang was in second for the first half of the race, but then Germany’s Sarah Kohler took over second. Over the last 200 metres Erica Sullivan came back on Kohler, and passed her with only 3 laps remaining. Sullivan would hold on for silver in a big PR by over 5 seconds, as the USA went 1-2. Kohler maintained her position for the bronze as Wang finished fourth.

For Sullivan, a medal in Tokyo was special as her mother was Japanese and Erica spoke the language fluently. Ledecky’s gold medal was her 7th gold and 10th overall medal at the Olympics.

1Katie LedeckyUSA15:35.35 (1 h5)15:37.34 (1)Gold
2Erica SullivanUSA15:46.67 (1 h4)15:41.41 (2)Silver
3Sarah KöhlerGER15:52.67 (3 h5)15:42.91 (3)Bronze
4Wang JianjiaheCHN15:41.49 (2 h5)15:46.37 (4)
5Simona QuadarellaITA15:47.34 (2 h4)15:53.97 (5)
6Kiah MelvertonAUS15:58.96 (4 h5)16:00.36 (6)
7Anastasiya KirpichnikovaROC15:50.22 (3 h4)16:00.38 (7)
8Maddy GoughAUS15:56.81 (4 h4)16:05.81 (8)
9Ajna KéselyHUN15:59.80 (5 h5)
10Li BingjieCHN15:59.92 (5 h4)
11Merve TuncelTUR16:00.51 (6 h4)
12Viktória Mihályvári-FarkasHUN16:02.26 (1 h3)
13Martina CaramignoliITA16:02.43 (7 h4)
14Kristel KöbrichCHI16:09.09 (6 h5)
15Mireia BelmonteESP16:11.68 (7 h5)
16Julia HasslerLIE16:12.55 (2 h3)
17Deniz ErtanTUR16:13.22 (3 h3)
18Jimena PérezESP16:15.99 (8 h4)
19Marlene KahlerAUT16:20.05 (1 h2)
20Viviane JungblutBRA16:21.29 (4 h3)
21Katrina BellioCAN16:24.37 (1 h1)
22Tamila HolubPOR16:25.16 (5 h3)
23Diana DurãesPOR16:29.15 (6 h3)
24Bea DizottiBRA16:29.37 (2 h2)
25Helena BachDEN16:29.56 (3 h2)
26Eve ThomasNZL16:29.66 (4 h2)
27Celine RiederGER16:32.57 (7 h3)
28Han Da-GyeongKOR16:33.59 (5 h2)
29Delfina PignatielloARG16:33.69 (8 h5)
30Katja FainSLO16:35.92 (8 h3)
31Hayley McIntoshNZL16:44.43 (6 h2)
32Arianna ValloniSMR16:54.64 (2 h1)
33Sasha GattMLT16:57.47 (3 h1)

Round One (26 July 2021 — 19:53)

14Katie LedeckyUSA15:35.35Q OR
25Wang JianjiaheCHN15:41.49Q
33Erica SullivanUSA15:46.67Q
44Simona QuadarellaITA15:47.34Q
56Anastasiya KirpichnikovaROC15:50.22Q
63Sarah KöhlerGER15:52.67Q
75Maddy GoughAUS15:56.81Q
87Kiah MelvertonAUS15:58.96Q
92Ajna KéselyHUN15:59.80
107Li BingjieCHN15:59.92
111Merve TuncelTUR16:00.51
126Viktória Mihályvári-FarkasHUN16:02.26
132Martina CaramignoliITA16:02.43
148Kristel KöbrichCHI16:09.09
151Mireia BelmonteESP16:11.68
165Julia HasslerLIE16:12.55
171Deniz ErtanTUR16:13.22
188Jimena PérezESP16:15.99
194Marlene KahlerAUT16:20.05
203Viviane JungblutBRA16:21.29
214Katrina BellioCAN16:24.37
227Tamila HolubPOR16:25.16
232Diana DurãesPOR16:29.15
245Bea DizottiBRA16:29.37
256Helena BachDEN16:29.56
263Eve ThomasNZL16:29.66
274Celine RiederGER16:32.57
282Han Da-GyeongKOR16:33.59
296Delfina PignatielloARG16:33.69
308Katja FainSLO16:35.92
317Hayley McIntoshNZL16:44.43
325Arianna ValloniSMR16:54.64
333Sasha GattMLT16:57.47

Heat One (19:53)

14Katrina BellioCAN16:24.370.72
25Arianna ValloniSMR16:54.640.73
33Sasha GattMLT16:57.470.64

Heat Two (20:10)

14Marlene KahlerAUT16:20.050.81
25Bea DizottiBRA16:29.370.68
36Helena BachDEN16:29.560.88
43Eve ThomasNZL16:29.660.74
52Han Da-GyeongKOR16:33.590.73
67Hayley McIntoshNZL16:44.430.79

Heat Three (20:27)

16Viktória Mihályvári-FarkasHUN16:02.260.72
25Julia HasslerLIE16:12.550.81
31Deniz ErtanTUR16:13.220.70
43Viviane JungblutBRA16:21.290.74
57Tamila HolubPOR16:25.160.78
62Diana DurãesPOR16:29.150.76
74Celine RiederGER16:32.570.74
88Katja FainSLO16:35.920.75

Heat Four (20:44)

13Erica SullivanUSA15:46.670.59Q
24Simona QuadarellaITA15:47.340.76Q
36Anastasiya KirpichnikovaROC15:50.220.72Q
45Maddy GoughAUS15:56.810.85Q
57Li BingjieCHN15:59.920.64
61Merve TuncelTUR16:00.510.68
72Martina CaramignoliITA16:02.430.74
88Jimena PérezESP16:15.990.66

Heat Five (21:01)

14Katie LedeckyUSA15:35.350.69Q OR
25Wang JianjiaheCHN15:41.490.72Q
33Sarah KöhlerGER15:52.670.72Q
47Kiah MelvertonAUS15:58.960.72Q
52Ajna KéselyHUN15:59.800.74
68Kristel KöbrichCHI16:09.090.80
71Mireia BelmonteESP16:11.680.65
86Delfina PignatielloARG16:33.690.76

Final (28 July 2021 — 11:54)

14Katie LedeckyUSA15:37.340.64
23Erica SullivanUSA15:41.410.60
37Sarah KöhlerGER15:42.910.72
45Wang JianjiaheCHN15:46.370.73
56Simona QuadarellaITA15:53.970.77
68Kiah MelvertonAUS16:00.360.73
72Anastasiya KirpichnikovaROC16:00.380.77
81Maddy GoughAUS16:05.810.83