U.S. swimming champion Katie Ledecky tied a record with legend Michael Phelps for the most individual world swimming titles, USA Swimming announced Tuesday.
Ledecky, 26, achieved the feat while competing in Fukuoka, Japan, at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships, where she won the 1,500-meter freestyle race —her 15th world title, and her fifth in the specific race.
The Olympic champion from Maryland called the shared record with Phelps an “honor.”
“I’ve known Michael for many years now, looked up to him as a little kid,” Ledecky said in a press conference after her win. “Just never really imagined I would be in this position. It’s always an honor to win a medal for Team USA, especially gold.”
The win also marked another record for the swimmer —the first woman to earn 20 World Championships gold medals, according to USA Swimming.
Additionally, she broke the record for the first swimmer to win five world titles in two different events: 800-meter freestyle and 1,500-meter freestyle.
“It hurt a lot, but I am really happy with the outcome,” Ledecky said poolside after her monumental victory. “The secret is just a lot of hard work and having really great people around me, including my coaches over the last 10-plus years.”
Ledecky finished the race in 15:26.27, the third-fastest time ever for the 1,500 meter and a whopping 17 seconds ahead of the second-place competitor, Simona Quadrella of Italy.
The best-ever and second best-ever times in the 1,500-meter race are also held by Ledecky, which she set in 2018 and 2015, according to the Olympics. In fact, the swimmer owns 18 of the 20th fastest times for the 1,500-meter freestyle of all time.
Ledecky is the most decorated female swimmer of all time with six individual Olympic gold medals and now 15 individual world titles, the Olympics organization reports.
Ledecky began her Olympic career at age 15, picking up a gold medal for the 800-meter race in the London 2012 games.