In 200 Free Victory (1:55.37), Katie Ledecky Looks Almost As Good As In Kazan

Katie Ledecky [Photo: Peter Bick]

On the way to winning the 200 freestyle at the USA Swimming Pro Series stop in Minneapolis, Katie Ledecky nearly matched her gold-medal time from the World Champs by clocking 1:55.37

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On the way to winning the 200 freestyle at the USA Swimming Pro Series stop in Minneapolis, Katie Ledecky nearly matched her gold-medal time from the World Champs by clocking 1:55.37

Comments

Bad Anon

Ledecky may not be incredibly faster than 1.55.00 in my opinion in Rio and she’ll be more vulnerable in this event ditto her rather fortuitous victory in Kazan. Think Franklin will be a huge favorite for gold ; 1.56.73 under Todd looks super solid and translates to 1.54mid on taper at the very least. Sjostrom and Hemskerk cannot be relied upon as much as Missy and Katie to rise where it matters most. Federica will be battling in this event ;
prediction ; 1.Missy Franklin 1.54.09
2.Katie Ledecky 1.54.55
3.Federica. Pellegrini 1.54.82

easyspeed

It’s over. From this moment forward, any woman not named Katie Ledecky can only hope for a silver in the 200 free. Won’t be long before the 400IM is in that category too. Female swimming GOAT in the making.

Craig Lord

I think easy speed is closer to the truth, Bad Anon: Kazan win reflected the time of a swimmer with the gut of a warrior on her knees; this latest swim reflected a swimmer in training; the potential in Rio is for a challenge to 1:54* and under, it seems to me. Good time for Franklin in season, too; and hope for Schmitt … a tough 4×200 team building. *- all times relative to conditions that will apply to all, of course (I see her chances as very strong whether the race is slow or fast, relatively speaking).

aswimfan

Ledecky split 59 last lap of 400 IM.
second fastest ever after Shiwen’s London.

The only man capable of splitting faster was Andrew Gemmell.

How come Ledecky split faster than almost all men?

Craig Lord

Because she did 4:39.18 – and at that pace a 59 is no big cheese for a woman who brings 400m free races home at that pace when swimming much faster over the full distance, relative to event. I see no surprise element here 🙂 And even at 59.94, she was 1.3sec slower over 100m free at the end of a 400m race than Ye was at 16 in London travelling to a world record and leaving world champion Elizabeth Beisel behind like she was a local club swimmer on an average race day out. I think it fair to say that the bigger surprise in those two sub-minute splits is as obvious as the sunrise on a cloudless day from the top of a mountain.

Wez

Very interesting swimming coming from USA at the moment. NBAC clearly feeling the effects of the work in Colorado Springs for the last 3 weeks.

MP looks flat, rugged and tired in the water, but didn’t look too badly drained after the race, Cracking a smile with Giles Smith.

KL is in another league. She motored the entire way of that 200 and I cant see anyone stopping her come Rio 2016.

Allison Schmidt is looking promising indeed. One of the best races I have seen from her for a while. Perhaps my statement above about KL will be proven wrong by a 2012 version of AS.

US OT’s are going to be entertaining to say the least.

ThereaLuigi

I am with those who think KL will be the favorite in Rio in the 200 free. She has found the right gear for the distance, a distance that she did not seem how to race (compared to her stellar 400, 800 and 1500 of course) until a few months back. Now she has the whole package on her side: speed, experience, technique, competitive drive and of course age. Good luck to her opponents …

ThereaLuigi

Roy, here you are again with your preposterous comparisons. Ye Shiwen 2.0, my a**. I make reference to Craig Lord’s post above and add that KL, unlike Ye Shiwen, is not a shooting star, but a consistently fast swimmer.

Craig Lord

Don’t be silly (on KL & YS stuff) Roy.

Craig Lord

Roy, stop it, please don’t go down the road of the ridiculous again on this same topic. The men at this meet did not constitute an Olympic final in which the bloke out front was on his way to Olympic gold in the fastest time ever seen by a man in a textile suit. Many women around the world racing in elite waters swim faster than their male counterparts week in and week out. That doesn’t tend to happen in Olympic waters. The rest is history. Leave it there, please. There is no need to keep repeating the same stuff and have everyone feel obliged to tell you you’re on the wrong lines with silly comparisons (which you are – ED). Thanks

ThereaLuigi

Roy, you are either not exceedingly sharp, so to speak, or in bad faith. Tertium non datur.

Craig Lord

I’m not ‘just kidding’ roy: I asked you to desist and I meant it. Last comment trashed and I will keep doing that on any comment where opinion strays to the ridiculous laced with accusation presented as a ‘joke’. It isn’t funny. It wastes all our time. Leave it.

John Liu

Craig, I don’t think its ridiculous at all that Sjostrom is the favorite in the 200free. This swim by Ledecky is probably faster than any of us thought she was going to go before Olympic Trials, but the fact of the matter is—these are probably the times she has to swim in season in order to set herself to swim a 1:53 in Rio, which she and her coach must realize is what they must target in order to win. Luckily, they don’t have the 1500, which allows them to turn their attention to the shorter events.

On the other hand, Sjostrom swam a 1:54.3 despite having no intentions of contesting the event at world championships. Her preparation had been geared towards butterfly and the shorter distances—with the 200free being a prep event. In fact, it kind of baffles me how she even able to turn over that time. I think of the 2 swimmers like comparing a Cam McEvoy or Hoogenband type character swimming sprints, and decides to focus on the 200free after popping a 1:44.3 vs a Hackett type character (or even Sun Yang) who drops the 1500 to focus on dropping times from a PR of 1:45.1. I think the objective opinion is that the former will start as the automatic favorite. I am mindful that Ledecky has been the more consistent athlete in terms of bringing her A-game when needed at the big stage, but I would argue that given her prep for the event, we haven’t even scratched the surface of what Sjostrom can do in this event.

Yozhik

Luigi, despite I like your comments and trying to flatter you at each opportunity 🙂 I have to disagree with your “right gear” statement. Yes she indeed looked like she put no sweat in this race and everything looked balanced with potentials. But this race is an exact replica of what was shown almost one and a half year ago at Nationals. She swam this 200 as a mini 400. It is the same type of mistake as Heemskerk’s one, who couldn’t switch mentally from short distance racing and swam 200 as 100 in Kazan. 200 is a completely different animal. I still believe that Allison’s splits in London is the model for anybody at 200 racing. Until Ledecky brings her third lap to 29 flat either Schmitt’s or Heemskerk’s (1:54.6) way she will be no match to Sjostrom. Regarding prognosis for other contenders at 200 in Rio. Unless this no progress at freestyle disciplines 2015 year manifests something fundamental in Sjostrom’s career she is #1so far. Franklin as usual is unpredictable to the last moment and now she is joined by Hosszu who’s 53 at 100 and 1:55.4 at 200 and most importantly not slowing down progress added suddenly her to the main contender list. My opinion about Femke will be shaped later in the season. So far I don’t have such. If final race in Rio won’t be super fast as it happened in Kazan I see Pellegrini with medal.

aswimfan

Through this website, I had kept urging Sjostrom to swim 200 free on Kazan. But she chose otherwise.

Oh well, I hope she gets smarter next year and swim individually : 100 fly, 200 free and 50 free as well as all three relays (I hope the swedes are not cruel enough to force her to swim relay prelims as well).

The 100 free took out a lot of her in Kazan, and yet she did no better than Barcelona and gold was still elusive, while in the meantime she swam fastest ever 200 free since Schmitt’s 2012 but no gold for it.

Craig Lord

That may all have some truth in it, John Liu – but as things stand, Sarah still has to get up on a big occasion and take on a major 200m long-course in a race with Ledecky, Franklin (or Schmitt), Pellegrini etc, all folk who dictate pace and change race dimensions. Sarah S is a clear candidate for a medal and a strong candidate for gold … but we can’t take relay efforts in wholly different circumstances and compare to a solo world titles final, then conclude “obvious favourite”. History shows us that it has rarely, if ever, worked quite so simply. Besides that, in case anyone should think you’re suggesting I said the notion you raise was ‘ridiculous’, I note I’ve never done any such thing. Sarah S is among medal hopes. I don’t see her as the ‘obvious gold medal winner’. As things stand, Ledecky has an edge because under on-her-knees conditions she took on the best and won a world title – and did so by racing, the time on the clock always relevant but on that day in Kazan secondary to the result, if that makes sense. She’s a racer with a killer instinct and one who has found a way to get her hand to the wall first on every occasion since she came to international attention (and a bit before that, too). That will count for much.

ThereaLuigi

Yozhik, to better explain myself, until last year I had this feeling that whenever KL swam shorter races, she could not find a way to capitalize on the faster stroke rate; she seemed to loose rhythm, to put a lot of effort into it without making proportional gains. Now I see her in control, I see her longer in the water. I don’t even look at the clock, I look at the way she swims it. Then again, if you do want to look at the clock, this is, in her words, her fastest in-season, not tapered time.

As always, I am not an expert and I don’t claim to be one; just a swim fan.

Craig Lord

Precisely, Therea: “I don’t even look at the clock” – that notion has pertained to many who found a way on the big occasion of coming up trumps regardless of how events panned out.

Yozhik

@Jonh Liu and aswimfan. Until someone explains me why everybody but Ledecky were well behind their bests in 200 final in Kazan I will strongly believe that actual racing with all these prelims and semis matter. Therefore I would rather not to use Sjostrom’s first leg relay split as major argument.

Yozhik

Sjostrom was several times under 1:55 in mid season and her Berlin race was spectacular. That what makes me think of her as #1 by far. Not her race in Kazan that was slower than one of last year.

Craig Lord

Indeed, Yozhik, none of these things are irrelevant but they are contributing factors to a complex picture, one that includes the major factor of the form guide of racing in specific conditions on specific occasions.

ThereaLuigi

The thing is, Yozhik, you need to be fast at the right time. Besides, big finals are often slower than you would expect from the given field. Not always, but often.

beachmouse

See: 2003 100 free World Champion Hanna-Maria- Seppala who swam the race of her life as far bigger stars imploded around her. (I hate to use the word fluke because it seems disrespectful to someone who performed when it counted most but that remains a really weird result to me.)

Keep in mind that Ledecky is effectively ditching the 1500 in favor of the 100 free when it comes to 2016 because she’s talked about grabbing one of the 4×100 FR spots so her training is going to be more speed-focused than it has been in the past.

easyspeed

I agree with a point Mr. Lord made above and I want to take it a bit further. And I am saying this based on comments KL’s coach made in an interview. In Kazan, Ledecky was swimming the 200 to win it; she wasn’t going for a world record. She was fatigued from her difficult schedule and also wanted to conserve energy. As such, she hung around with the front of the pack and ran everyone down at the end. If a 56 was needed to do this, she would have did that time. If a 54 was needed to win, that would have been the result. So don’t put too much weight in her Kazan time when evaluating her potential.

aswimfan

Yozhik,

Please don’t take it as a slight or as an attack to Ledecky when I said that Sjostrom should have swum 200 free. Ledecky won the 200 free in Kazan fair and square 🙂 (I know you are quite sensitive when it comes to Ledecky and you love smile emoji.. so 🙂

As for why almost everybody swam slower than their best in 200 Kazan. Well, I also believe that Ledecky herself could have also swum faster, as her coach has implied very strongly.
As for the explanations, well it depends on individual swimmer.
Heemskerk’s swims were completely carbon copy of her 2011 Shanghai swims. Big fail. And I though she’d changed and improved.
Missy, well, she reportedly had all sorts of problem from swimming SCY ot her back to her less than ideal preparations.
But IMHO, the general explanation was that the race was a bit nervy. That happens often in big event especially when you threw in many great swimmers into one race and each has strengths and weaknesses. 200 free is the meeting of all kinds of swimmers: sprinters, mid distance, distance, IM ..

The reason why I prefer Sjostrom to swim 200 free is because she has had fastest times in the past two years, and I do believe she has bigger chance for gold in 200 than she is in 100 free (there’s always one of those pesky campbell sisters that got in the way.. and both are faster than she is).

easyspeed

Something else about Ms. Ledecky, and I think this is pretty significant. For the last four years she has NOT been a full time swimmer (in contrast to some of her professional swimming competitors). She attended an academically rigorous private high school. Think about it- she had to go to swim practice early in the morning, go to class all day, train in the afternoon then go home and do homework. This is the first year she can focus completely on swimming. And I think that is going to make a HUGE difference.

aswimfan

In another news, as if swimming 16 individual LCM events in the last two stops of world cup last week was not enough, Hosszu yesterday swam 5 individual SCM events in one day in Hungarian championships.

Unparalleled. Unique. Unprecedented.

Yozhik

yes, aswimfan I like ledecky and was surprised that for two (!!!) years general (USA) media didn’t recognize this phenomenon, didn’t pay attention and didn’t look at her as a real deal. That is what actually made me her fan. Each new season I’m afraid to see signs of her being slow down because it should happen some day, but she still delivers. Her yesterday’s race didn’t tell me much in terms if there is any progress of her chasing Sjostrom. Until I see her under 1:55 with the same regularity as she goes under 4min at 400 or until I see some changes in strategy I will think that gold in Rio at this distance is questionable. Yesterday I was more glad to see her breaking 4:40 at 400I’m than this 200 race. So far among all contenders I am more interested to fallow Hosszu if she begins to plateau.

John Liu

@Craig, by your logic- Seto would start as the favorite for the men’s 400IM crown. Hagino- who, despite being about a second faster at his best, has never swam faster with international competition.

I think most fans would agree that Seto has capitalized on hagino’s scheduling mistakes and injury and that if Hagino shows he has return to form in early 2016- that he would start as the favorite.

Granted, the Seto-Hagino & Sjostrom-Ledecky comparison is an imperfect analogy. It is worth mentioning that despie Ledecky’s immense talent, she is also fighting against a statistical fact that it is rare for a distance swimmer to drop significant time (>1second) from already world-class times in the 200 while maintaining focus on the longer events. Sun yang is overdue for a 1:43, but his peers in that department have failed to deliver the goods.

Craig Lord

John Liu, I don’t see your comparison as comparable. Sorry, just too far away on a few levels. I don’t see Sun being ready for a drop of any significance: with a 2014 best of 1:44.47 after 3 seasons of plateau he looked like a man struggling in Kazan, while the man who won the 200 is 19 and bound to get better, as one would expect at that age and on the curve Guy is travelling. I do see him getting to a 1:44, while the man aiming to defend has well over a second on them all – a very big second plus indeed down to 1:43.1. If he gets close to the 1:44 low zone on the way to next summer, he would be back up there as the man to beat. Time will tell.

Joe

I see Sarah as the 200 free favorite because of her sprint quality on top of proven consistency to solo-swim 1.55 or faster. People say the Kazan relay doesn’t matter but forget to note that Sarah also swam the prelims, yet totally destroyed a rested Franklin(who wasn’t at her best but medalled individually). Doha final is a great example what she can do where she swam on the notes of Pellegrini and Hosszu and then just blasted them the last 25m for a WR. It sounds silly and oversimplified but that race is all about controlling the field and have the best finish, and that absolutely plays into the hands of Sjostrom. It’s up to Ledecky/Franklin/Pellegrini to set a pace she’s not comfortable with so that she tires. But Ledecky and Pellegrini adapt similar styles and love racing the last 50, while Franklin is a second-half swimmer aswell. Heemskerk and Hosszu would probably be the swimmers that try to bomb the field, but I see them mostly as outsiders. I don’t know what favorite that would risk a medal for gold and thus see a very compact field for 125-150m. Anyway, if it comes down to the last 50m I’d say Sarah 50% Katie 25% the rest(mostly Pellegrini & Franklin) 25% chance for gold. If Ledecky starts throwing sub 54 100m times I might change my view. Anyway that’s just my speculation, there’s still a lot of racing to do before Rio and I’m quite sure we’ll see 1.54.X times during the season that we can analyze to death.

Craig Lord

Indeed – always possible to analyse to death … and yes, way too soon… much can and will happen twixt now and then. Doha less relevant; s/c and l/c don’t translate in that sense. Kazan is relevant – as is swimming all rounds and the final; as is swimming two 1500m free world records either side of a four-lapper on your knees but still good for gold. I think you play down KL’s chances, Joe 🙂

Yozhik

@ThereaLuigi. By definition one cannot make PB by request, it just happens one nice day under good circumstances, practically uncontrollably. One can undertake some special preparation to increase the probability of such event to occur at particular day. But again no guaranty. With this regard there is nothing unusual that at big meet finals swimmers doesn’t show their bests. There is no spell. In average the frequency of swimming at PB at big meets are the same as at any other ones where swimmer pushes himself to the limits. The expectations are higher at big meets that makes the failure to set personal record more noticeable. Like in case with “butterbrot law” that says it always falls to the floor with the buttered side downwards we just regestering unconsciously bad cases only.
Actually big meets are not a good place for PB at all. There is a well documented experiment when a well trained weight lifter was asked to stand backward at the very edge of high cliff and to lift from the ground as much weight as he possibly can. This poor guy was able to make only about 40% of what he can do in gym. Such powerful a mental stopper caused by fear can be. Mental pressure at finals with strong competition is very high. Some gets too much adrenaline that they are not trained to deal with. Others are experiencing mental stoppers. That is what I call racing factor.

Craig Lord

Yes, Yozhik. It is one of the key factors in measuring how successful teams are (no relay teams but teams as a whole) on the very big occasion. The USA has shown a pattern in the past of swimming up at the big meet (performance relative to trials effort, not necessarily PB though it has often been the case) while many others have shown a pattern of swimming down at the big meet. The difference in result on big occasions is stark. It is one of the subtle differences between a Britain team with lots of finalists but falling shy of ‘expectation’ and the Britain team of Kazan, for e.g.: percentages of those swimming up reaches a tipping point. It is not rare for team stat to show a rate of only 20 – 40% swimming up on the biggest occasion.
Of course there are extraordinary examples such as Adam Peaty, where it was not necessary for him to break a world record again to win – and winning is what it is about on the biggest day … there, your weight lifting extreme is seen in its subtlest form… 58.1 in semi, a tiny touch tighter in the final.
Lots of predictions being made out there for next August: add to the above a race at 11pm, a pool ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ and a sprinkling of inevitable surprise and all those predictions of super-fast finals being made for Rio seem more fragile. The warrior will out, come the day.

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