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Katie Ledecky breaks 1500m freestyle world record

Jun 19, 2014, 10:25 PM EDT

Katie Ledecky AP

Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin will own swimming headlines this weekend, but Katie Ledecky wanted to break a world record first.

Ledecky beat her own mark in a 1500m freestyle race at a meet in Shenandoah, Texas, on Thursday, clocking 15 minutes, 34.23 seconds, according to reports.

“I wasn’t really expecting it,” Ledecky told the Washington Post. “I had that feeling where I thought I could go really fast, but I really didn’t think I was going to go anywhere close to the world record.”

That took 2.3 seconds off her world record in the non-Olympic event from the 2013 World Championships, which is remarkable given she’s surely training to peak two months from now for the summer’s biggest meets.

“The mile is such a long race, if you’re going to swim it, you might as well drop a lot of time,” Ledecky joked to the newspaper.

Ledecky’s split at 800m, reportedly 8:16.18, was .04 faster than Janet Evans‘ personal best over that distance, which was a world record until 2008.

How much better is Ledecky than the rest of the world? The woman who finished second to Ledecky in the 1500m free at the 2013 World Championships, Lotte Friis, won a 1500m free in Santa Clara, Calif., on Thursday evening 26 seconds slower than what Ledecky posted in Texas.

Ledecky, 17, is the reigning female World Swimmer of the Year, the American record holder in the 400m free, 800m free and 1500m free and world record holder in the latter two. She won the 2012 Olympic 800m free and, in 2013, won four Worlds golds (400m free, 800m free, 1500m free and 4x200m free relay).

She has competed in the 200m free this year, beating Olympic champion Allison Schmitt in Mesa, Ariz., in April. She will undoubtedly go head to head with the World champion Franklin in the 200m free if she continues to race the distance, setting up an intriguing duel as the Rio 2016 Olympics near.

Franklin beat Ledecky by 2.07 seconds in the 200m free at last year’s National Championships. This year’s Nationals are in Irvine, Calif., from Aug. 6-10.

Ledecky, a rising high school senior in Bethesda, Md., has committed to Stanford, where Evans once swam.

*Correction: The article previously stated that Ledecky’s 800m split was .04 slower than Evans’ personal best at 800m.

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