She is her own breed of dominance, smooth and sleek and lethal, particularly in distance events. Ledecky finished one of the most impressive individual performances at one Olympics on Friday night, winning her third individual gold medal — this one in the women’s 800-meter freestyle, which she won in a world record-breaking time of 8:04.79. She took nearly two seconds off her previous world record set earlier this year.
Jazz Carlin of Britain won the silver medal, nearly 12 seconds behind Ledecky. Boglarka Kapas of Hungary took bronze.
She also won two relay medals: A gold in the 4×200 freestyle, and a silver in the 4×100 freestyle. She remains undefeated in major international individual events.
Ledecky’s name will go down in history next to Debbie Meyer’s as the only female swimmers ever to win three individual freestyle events at one Games. Meyer won the 200, 400 and 800 freestyles as a 16-year-old in 1968. Ledecky won the same three events here in Rio.
Meyer has been rooting hard for Ledecky all week, and she’s traded texts with Ledecky’s mother, Mary Gen, throughout the meet.
“She reminds me so much of me 48 years ago,” Meyer told USA TODAY Sports by phone on Wednesday. “It brings back so many wonderful memories of when I was swimming, things that this old brain has forgotten. I love watching her swim, absolutely love it. I love seeing that drive. I love seeing the way she attacks things. The way she swims is very much the way I tried to swim.”
Meyer first met Ledecky and her family a few years ago at a conference. Ledecky’s parents believe Meyer inspired Ledecky to add the 200 free to her program, a challenging race for, at that point, a mostly distance swimmer. […]
It is arguable that a greater proportion of Nigeria’s sporting success is attributable to women. …