Katie Ledecky breaks Michael Phelps’ individual world championship gold medal record

Katie Ledecky broke another record this week. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Katie Ledecky broke another record this week. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Katie Ledecky is now the solo record-holder for most individual gold medals at the world championships.

The American swimmer won her 16th title Saturday in the women’s 800-meter freestyle in Fukuoka, Japan. That surpassed fellow American Michael Phelps’ original record — which Ledecky tied Tuesday when she won the 1,500-meter women’s freestyle.

Ledecky’s win also marked her sixth world championship in the event. She led from start to finish and cruised to victory with a time of 8:08.87 — four seconds slower than her 2016 world record — and beat the second-place finisher by 4.44 seconds.

Ledecky, 26, now has 21 total gold medals at the world championships with relay events included.

“It was special,” Ledecky said on Peacock. “I’m happy with that swim. I wanted to be a little bit better [time-wise], but I’ll take it. I’m really pleased with how the week went.”

While she beat Phelps in individual goals on the world stage, she still trails him by 16 gold medals on the Olympic stage. However, Ledecky only needs three gold medals to climb into second place among all Olympic athletes behind Phelps and ahead of gymnast Larisa Latynina (Soviet Union), swimmer Mark Spitz (United States), track and field athlete Carl Lewis (U.S), and long-distance runner Paavo Nurmi (Finland).

Three more total medals would also put Ledecky at in first place among all female Olympic swimmers and second among all Olympic swimmers.

For now, though, Ledecky has one of the most impressive records in the sport of swimming. The next target is, of course, the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris which begin in almost exactly a year from this weekend.

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