Katie Ledecky proved once again she is the best female Olympic swimmer of our time on Tuesday night when she won gold in the women’s 200-meter freestyle at the Summer Olympics in Rio. She finished the race in 1 minute 53.73 seconds, edging out Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom, who won silver with a time of 1:54.08.

“I did come pretty close to throwing up during that last 50,” Ledecky said after the race. “I knew I just needed to get my hand on the wall and be done. Everything was hurting. I just had to dig deep and do my own thing. I had no idea whether I touched first. I was done when I touched the wall. I knew I’d given it everything I had to.”

Up next for Ledecky is the 800-meter freestyle. If she wins gold, Ledecky will join Debbie Meyer (1968) as just the second female in Olympics history to win three individual freestyle gold medals in the same Games. But Ledecky could do something even more extraordinary: break the eight-minute mark, a feat that, up until this point, has been seen only in the men’s competition.

It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Ledecky has lowered the world record in the 800-meter freestyle by more than seven seconds in 29 months to its current 8:6.68. Before that, it took 26 years to lower the record by the same amount.

According to FiveThirtyEight’s Benjamin Morris, Ledecky “is pretty much the Secretariat of swimming” whose “performance at 800 meters is the most any swimmer has dominated any distance.”

Ledecky already set a world record in the 400-meter freestyle earlier in the Games with a sizzling time of 3:56.46, making her the second woman (Italy’s Federica Pellegrini in 2009) to swim the 400-meter freestyle in less than four minutes. It’s also the 12th world record Ledecky has set since the 2012 London Olympics. Extrapolating her 400-meter gold-medal winning time in Rio, Ledecky would swim the 800-meter freestyle in 7:52.92. And while it is unreasonable to think Ledecky can maintain her 400-meter pace for twice the distance, that seven-second cushion could be enough to get her under eight minutes.

Since 1968, there have been 10 women to compete in the 200-, 400-, and 800-meter freestyle events. The average finalist swam at a pace 14 seconds slower than their 400-meter and two, Irina Aksyonova (1980) and Keena Rothhammer (1972), were within 10 seconds of their projected 800-meter time based on their actual 400-meter finishes. Rothhammer lost just 5.24 seconds off her pace when she made the distance switch in Munich, so there is precedent.

But based on everything Ledecky has done so far, who would bet against her?

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