Katie Ledecky Surpasses Michael Phelps in Most Personal Gold Medals at World Championship

Last Updated: 30 July 2023By

Fukoka, Japan – This is why Katie Ledecky is considered one of the greatest freestyle swimmers in the history of sports: she is never satisfied. The 26-year-old American secured another victory on Saturday, winning the 800-meter freestyle at the World Championship and becoming the first swimmer to win six individual gold medals in a single world-level competition. This was also her 16th individual world title, breaking the record for the most gold medals at the world level, tying her with Michael Phelps.

Ledecky, a seven-time Olympic gold medalist and holder of world records in both 800 and 1500 meters, however, was not entirely happy with her winning time of 8 minutes, 8.87 seconds, which was her fastest ever. “I’m always trying to think of new ways to improve. I mean, my mind’s just swirling right now. I wanted to be better than this tonight,” she said, trying to wake up her thoughts near her right ear.


“I am quite hard on myself,” she said. “But I think I’ve found that balance of being tough on myself and also having that grace with myself.”

After winning the 1500m freestyle on Tuesday, the 800m victory marked Ledecky’s second individual gold at the Championship. She also won silver in the 400m freestyle. China’s Li Bingjie claimed silver with a time of 8:13.31, and Australia’s Ariarne Titmus took the bronze with 8:13.59. “Letting go of my favorite event was fun, and I wanted to leave it all in the pool,” Ledecky said. Her victory in the pool on the seventh day of the Championship was the fourth gold for the United States. In the meantime, Australia has secured 13 gold medals worldwide, the most by any nation. The USA is at the top of the overall standings with 31 medals (16 silver), followed by Australia with 20 and China with 13.

Australia’s Kaylee McKeown created history by winning gold in the women’s 200m backstroke, sweeping all three backstroke events after her triumph in the 50m and 100m backstroke competitions. She became the first swimmer in the world to sweep all three backstroke events.

This achievement is remarkable given her previous disqualification in the 200 IM. “You can’t change the rules,” she said. “I got disqualified. Those were the cards that were dealt to me, and I couldn’t do much more than that. So, I just had to put on a good performance and turn all my negatives into positives.” In the men’s events, American Regan Smith won silver with a time of 2:04.94, while China’s Peng Xuwei took the bronze with 2:06.74.

Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom maintained her dominance in the 50m butterfly, securing her fifth consecutive gold in this competition with a time of 24.77 seconds. This victory brought Sjostrom’s personal total of world-level medals to 20, tied with Phelps’ record. Sjostrom set a new semi-final world record in the 50m free with a time of 23.61, breaking her own previous record of 23.67 set in 2017.

“It’s not that complicated,” Sjostrom said about her longevity. “Just work every day, go to practice, and be humble.”


In the women’s 100m fly, China’s Zhang Yufei, who won gold, claimed the silver with a time of 25.05, while American Gretchen Walsh took the bronze with 25.46. Japan’s favorite Rikako Ikee finished in seventh place (25.78) in the 50m fly, but her home fans greeted her with enthusiasm. At the age of 23, Ikee had won six gold medals at the 2018 Asian Games and was expected to be a strong contender for the Tokyo Olympics. However, she was diagnosed with leukemia in February 2019. Her return has been a source of inspiration for the Japanese public and her fellow competitors alike.

Australia’s Cate Campbell totally dominated the 50m freestyle, claiming the gold in a time of 21.06. This was her first individual gold at the world or Olympic level. American Caeleb Dressel, who won the Olympic competition, failed to qualify for the American team. MacKeon’s time in Tokyo was faster than Dressel’s winning time – 21.07.

France’s Maxime Grousset won gold in the men’s 100m freestyle with a time of 50.14. The 24-year-old held on to his early lead and kept it throughout the race. Canada’s Joshua Liendo took the silver with 50.34, and American Drew Kibler secured the bronze (50.46). Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte equaled the world record with a time of 29.30 in the women’s 50m breaststroke semifinal. Australia won the mixed 4x100m freestyle relay with a world record time of 3:18.83. The USA took silver with 3:20.82, and Britain earned the bronze with 3:21.68. The relay is not an Olympic event.

Overall, the Championship showcased exceptional performances from world-class swimmers, setting new records and inspiring fans worldwide.