Katie Ledecky surpasses Michael Phelps with new record for individual world swimming titles

The swimmer has 31 golds at the world championships and Olympics combined.

Katie Ledecky surpasses Michael Phelps with new record for individual world swimming titles
Philip Fong/AFP via Getty Images
July 31, 2023, 3:12 PM

Katie Ledecky dominated at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships in Japan last week, setting new records and leaving other top swimmers in her wake, including Michael Phelps.

Ledecky took home four new pieces of hardware from the competition in Fukuoka after notching individual gold medals in the women's 1,500-meter freestyle and 800-meter freestyle, plus silver in the 4x200 relay and 400-meter freestyle.

After speeding through 1,500 meters in the pool in 15 minutes and 26.27 seconds, Ledecky earned her 20th world championship gold medal on Tuesday to become the most decorated female swimmer at worlds.

Ledecky later outdid herself and surpassed Michael Phelps' record for career individual golds at the world championships with her 16th overall individual gold in the women's 800 freestyle.

PHOTO: Katie Ledecky, of the United States, competes in the women's 1500-meter final at the World Swimming Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, July 25, 2023.
Katie Ledecky, of the United States, competes in the women's 1500-meter final at the World Swimming Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, July 25, 2023.
David J. Phillip/AP

The 26-year-old led that race from start to finish, and after 8 minutes and 8.87 seconds Ledecky earned her place as the first swimmer in history to win an individual event six times at worlds.

Ledecky's total medal count rose to 21 world championship golds -- individual and relays -- and she holds the 28 fastest times in 800-meter history.

PHOTO: Katie Ledecky of United States reacts after the women's 1500m freestyle finals at the World Swimming Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, July 25, 2023.
Katie Ledecky of United States reacts after the women's 1500m freestyle finals at the World Swimming Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, July 25, 2023.
Eugene Hoshiko/AP

The seven-time Olympic gold medalist told reporters that she's "always trying to think of new ways to improve."

PHOTO: Gold medallist USA's Katie Ledecky attends the medals ceremony for the women's 1500m freestyle swimming event during the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka on July 25, 2023.
Gold medallist USA's Katie Ledecky attends the medals ceremony for the women's 1500m freestyle swimming event during the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka on July 25, 2023.
Philip Fong/AFP via Getty Images

"I've already got everything turning in my head right now. I kind of wanted to be better than I was tonight," Ledecky said after the 800-meter event. "I'm pretty tough on myself, but I think I have found the balance of being tough on myself but also having that grace."

ESPN and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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