Freestyle events will be the most awaited ones at the 17th FINA World Championships as well. Here is a brief summary on the evolving of world records in freestyle by ladies.
Women’s 50m freestyle
The first record in the shortest and fastest swimming course by women was registered on 26 July 1975. East German swimmer Kornelia Ender swam 26.99 in the 4x100m freestyle relay claiming gold at the World Championships hosted by Cali, Colombia. As a matter of fact, breaking records was a habit of Ender, altogether she breached 32 of them in different swimming events. 50m freestyle was included in the World Championships programme only in Madrid, 1986 and the first world champion was Romanian swimmer Tamara Costache, who, similarly to Dutch Inge de Bruijn, could break records in this course four times. The prevailing record of 23.73 was set by German Britta Steffen at the World Championships in Rome (famous for shark suits) on 2 August, 2009.
Women’s 100m freestyle
The first record in women’s 100m freestyle is associated with another German swimmer, Martha Ferstung who touched in 1:35 in Magdeburg, 1908. We do not have much information about her, but way more data are available about swimming legend Dawn Fraser breaking most records in this event. The Australian icon broke a total of 11 records between 1956 and 1964, she was the first to complete this course within less than 60 seconds. In addition, she was the first woman who managed to defend her Olympic champion title four years later. Upon winning in Tokyo she became the first swimmer to triple in a line. When it comes to women’s 100m freestyle we should not forget to mention East German swimmer Kornelia Ender who breached the world record 10 times between 1973 and 1976. The prevailing record (52.06) was set on 2 July, 2016 by Cate Campbell, fellow swimmer of swimming icon, Fraser.
Women’s 200m freestyle
In 200m Fanny Durack touched in 2:56 in Sydney, in March, 1915 marking the first registered record in this course. Although Dawn Fraser and Kornelia Ender broke records multiple times (4-4) they could not excel Italian swimmer Federica Pellegrini. Aged 28 the swimmer (still active) has breached the world record 6 times, her latest record of 1:52.98 was set in Rome and it is still prevailing. In fact this one was achieved in shark suit, her first one (1:56.47) was set in textile suit in March, 2007, breaking 5-year long record by German record holder Franziska van Almsick (1:56.64).
Women’s 400m freestyle
Women’s medium course freestyle has been dominated by American swimmers. The first registered record dating back to August, 1919 is attached to New York and current record holder Katie Ledecky is a Washington-born swimmer. The list starts with Ethelda Bleibtrey’s time of 6:30.2 who –in spite of being a backstroker- was forced to enter freestyle at the 1920 Antwerp Olympics since backstroke was not yet included in the programme at the time. She clinched gold in 100m as well as in 300m beside the relay heat. Although following years saw Americans breaching records in this event most of the time, Norwegian swimmer Ragnhild Hveger broke the world record altogether 8 times between 1937 and 1940 and eventually became record holder. Prevailing record (3:56.46) was set by Katie Ledecky – greatest icon of women’s freestyle events currently- at Rio Olympics
Women’s 800m freestyle
The first record was officially acknowledged the latest in this event compared to other events. Although best times were registered after 1919, FINA decided to acknowledge them only after 1931 with the record set by French swimmer Yvonne Godard in 12:18.8 marking the first official one. Disputes arose due to the length of this course, records at 800m and 800 yard had to be registered in a single list. Finally, they put an end to such disputes in 1935. Thanks to this today previous records are also acknowledged. The first time was achieved by Gertrud Ederle (US) 13:19 in 1919. Holder of prevailing record (8:04.79) Katie Ledecky (US) has improved her record time four times in the last four years, only one swimmer, Debbie Meyer had managed to achieve the same back in the late 60s. As far as Ledecky’s current form is concerned, it is quite unlikely that she would not go for more.
Women’s 1500m freestyle
Due to its difficulty level ladies started to race in the longest course later, hence the first record time was registered as late as 1922 when Helen Wainwright touched in 25:06.6 in New York. Current record holder of the event is the same as that of 800m, Katie Ledecky did 15:25.48, which is her fifth record since her blast in 2013. Beside her, the only name listed five times is that of Australian Jennifer Turral. Apparently it will not take long until Ledecky takes over the lead in this respect, as well, since she is busy preparing for breaking records at upcoming tournaments.