Swimming the 1500m: Why No Olympic Event for the Women?

FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

Katie Ledecky. Photo credit: Clive Rose (Getty Images). From: http://www.businessinsider.com/katie-ledecky-is-the-most-dominant-swimmer-alive-2015-8 Katie Ledecky. Photo credit: Clive Rose (Getty Images). From: http://www.businessinsider.com/katie-ledecky-is-the-most-dominant-swimmer-alive-2015-8

On Monday at the World Championships, American swimmer Katy Ledecky beat her own 1500 m world record by .65 of a second, swimming 1500 metres in 15 minutes 27.71 seconds. She swam it in a heat not a final, and was herself shocked by the result. And an amazing result it is.

If it had been the Olympics and not the Worlds, Ledecky wouldn’t have been swimming that event. Though there is a men’s 1500 in the Olympics, the women’s Olympic “equivalent” is 800.

There is a long tradition in sports of women not being given the same competitive opportunities as men. And the Olympics have been no exception. There was no women’s marathon in the Olympics until 1984. Joan Benoit of the US won gold on home turf in LA that year. 1984 also saw the first women’s…

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