Katie Ledecky (1:54.43) Takes Round One in 200 Free Showdown With Sarah Sjostrom

Katie Ledecky - by Patrick B. Kraemer
Katie Ledecky - by Patrick B. Kraemer

The clash that didn’t take place at the World Championships went down at the USA Swimming Pro Series in Austin on Saturday night, with Katie Ledecky winning the 200 freestyle ahead of Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom in 1:54.43.

All SwimVortex articles are placed in our archive after five days, the library of content available to subscribers.
Log In Register

Comments

Yozhik

Not like many Ledecky considered this meet as a place for making statement. Why is it now, in January? It could be a part of training process to complete whatever was not set clearly at World Championship and, as she said, to motivate her in practice for next steps of improvement process. Since she was in the position she may wanted to increase the mental pressure on her opponents. For example, how should Franklin feel now being struggling to approach her more than three years old personal best at 200 fs, that in its turn is already well behind ones of Sjostrom and Ledecky? Does she want the repetition of 2012 final where she found herself at 4th place? Will it be a waste of efforts and time for her? What about Sjostrom? Is she still comfortable with her decision to compete at 200? She knows now that she is facing the opponent of equal abilities and the competition in Rio won’t be a walking in the park as it was seen by many just a few months ago. Is she ready now to do hard training job that by her words she hates, remembering all the time in the back of her mind that such sacrifices can be for nothing?
Or Ledecky wanted to change the perception of her as a long distance swimmer only and to make swimming professionals to picture her as a real contender for the sprint tickets to Rio.
Or, as John mentioned, she just wanted to stop “what if” scenarios, answering on Sjostrom’s “what if I raced this final” with her “what if I was that fresh and under no pressure as you were”
Whatever her reason was the statement was made and was made very strongly.

Eugene Chc

Yozhik, in 2012 coach Schmitz made ​​the first mistake, he changed freestyle technic, and it cost two medals, 100-200 free, for Missy.
Now he makes a lot of mistakes.

DDias

Yozhik,
I think is too early to make assumptions.
If Franklin is in heavy training doing lots of weights, her 1:57 is a pretty damn fast time.
I have no doubt Ledecky is now ‘the woman to beat’ in 200free, but don’t read more than it should in her times.Sjostrom made her fastest January 200free time by over a second.Remember:She is a sprinter who swims 200 free. A drop from a sprinter normally is really big when fully rested.And the smile after 50 free shows she wasn’t expecting much that time.

easyspeed

I said it before and I’ll say it again: 200 free is no longer a competitive event; get used to seeing a #1 by Katie’s name at the end of the race for a LONG time.

Not sure what Yozhik above is trying to imply. KL tapered for the meet? I doubt it; she is just getting better. Remember: the is the first time in her life that Ledecky is a full time swimmer. No surprise she is continuing to improve…

Robbos

I think you are correct easyspeed, Ledecky will have the WR in the 200 very soon. This is one special swimmer

Yozhik

DDias, I saw clearly an intention of Ledecky to set impressive personal bests at 100 and 200. I even think that today she targeted 1:54.31 – Sjostrom’s personal best. I was curious why now, 5 month before trials. What was the need to open all cards?
I don’t make assumptions, but you will probably agree with me that situation for Franklin with 200 fs looks a little bit different now than it was one month prior WC. Do you think she can be in 5 month as good as she was in Barcelona? And even so it is already not enough. The question of priorities can be the most difficult for Missy now. As to Sjostrom, then this meet was not neither place nor time to take gloves off. She did what was planned to do by her training schedule. She started half a second slower than she did in Kazan and not because she could not do it faster. It made this race very comfortable for Ledecky and Sarah let it go. I didn’t question Sarah’s ability. But there was a reason why she skipped European and World championships races at this distance. This reason can still exist. Her seeming dominance at 200 fs appeared to be an illusion. Can it affected Sjostrom’s decisiveness with this race. Sure, why not.

Craig Lord

Yozhik, I doubt she has laid all her cards on the table anymore than she did when she won the 200 free world title in 1:55 low after two 1500m world records. It was clear there was more to come. And there still is, the process referred to by the coach ongoing and seemingly on target:
http://www.swimvortex.com/bruce-gemmell-on-boys-club-building-the-beast-of-all-distance-sisters-katie-ledecky/

Robbos

I agree Craig, I think Katie is young & still on the improvement scale & I expect by the time she retires, she will go close to being GOAT in female swimming.

Eugene Chc

Yozhik, Franklin heavily overtrained.
Now she training 30-50% more than Ledecky, and with high altitude.

commonwombat

TBH, I’m with DDias on this. There are an awful lot of assumptions being made. Firstly, we have no idea who and where those perennial intruders; illness and injury; will strike and how badly.

Secondly, people are making a number of brave assumptions with regards to Ledecky. World record runs, like any “golden runs”, DO inevitably come to an end. The real question is whether Rio comes before the end of hers or has it already ended. A question that is, as yet, without an answer.

These runs, from my historical observations tend to run for two, maybe three, years max and hers started mid 2013. Some, if they do have prolonged careers MAY set other WRs but generally when they may’ve narrowed their focus towards specific strokes/events.

People are making assumptions all over the place on what she’s going to do post Rio. Who knows ? She may add the 400IM, she may switch focus to shorter events OR she may decide to get out whilst she’s on top and decide college is for education rather than swimming. All of these are valid scenarios; there could be others.

Blah Blah

So many excuses for Missy Franklins performance. What I see is painfully obvious and have indicated this on other sites: She is passed her prime. It’s weird to say given her age but the evidence is overwhelmingly obvious. No medals for Missy except relays and the 200 back in Rio, maybe no individual events even except the 200 back.

Felix Sanchez

She was already marginal favourite for the 200 in Rio; now she’s marginally odds-on.

Craig Lord

And something like 3 medals with 2 relays and a solo would be a soaring accomplishment for the bulk of world-class swimmers, blah, blah, so fair, too, to celebrate any podium visit she achieves rather than see it as a downturn (something that is a part of the nature of all of us – that’s life). We saw Shane Gould once in Olympic waters – but what a once – among the greatest Olympic performances all time. Missy, of course, may yet surprise you – she’ll certainly be working on doing her best – and that’s the best any of us can expect.

Eugene Chc

I think Franklin return strong in Tokyo 2020, of course with another coach.
But Schmitz may totally destroyed her in this year.

aswimfan

Ledecky will try to get individual 100 free berth in Rio, if what was said by Bruce Gemmell is of any indication:

“The standard is Shane Gould,” said Ledecky’s coach, Bruce Gemmell. “And that standard is pretty high.”
http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/chi-katie-ledecky-chasing-swimming-legends-20140808-column.html

aswimfan

And that is also why Ledecky has been swimming 400 IM, as Gould also held 200 IM WR and won olympics gold in the event.

Eugene Chc

if Ledecky will swim 100m with straight arm, then sub 53 possible.

aswimfan

Despite this strong showing from Ledecky, I still think that Sjostrom SHOULD swim 200 free.
The 200 free schedule is perfect for her; she does not have any other event, individual or relay, during the two days of heats-semis-final of 200 free. And one other thing: it comes after 100, her main event.

aswimfan

After 100 fly

Yozhik

Aswimfan, it will be very sad if Sjostrom is “consistent” with her habit of skipping 200 fs. She is still ranked number two ever and as you said we don’t see any reason for her not to compete. Yes, it looks today like Ledecky is on the move with this 0.7sec drop and can go much father. But it is very possible that she was already near to this time in Kazan and the drop in PB since then is not that big if was at all. Plus just a few weeks ago in discussion on this site Sjostrom was considered to be the one who will break 1:54 and maybe threatening Pellegrini’s time. Nothing has changed since than. The only thing that gives me some doubts is an attitude. Sjostrom looks at this race like an opportunity for gold Olympic medal, Ledecky behaves like it is her territory and no intruders allowed. She will die for this medal, Sjostrom may let it go if it would be too much.

Craig Lord

Yes, aswimfan, we won’t see Shane’s solo result repeated, even now (100 200 400 800 and 200IM, three WRs and three golds, two other solo medals), though KL could get 5 gold with relays, at this stage I don’t see a 6th for the Otto (*) match. It was wonderful to catch up with Shane in Lund last week – keen mind, great company; amazing feel for the water to this day.

aswimfan

An observation:
Ryan Hoffer is a perfect example how one should be more cautious when predicting LCM results based on SCY results.

Yozhik

@CL. If 53.75 means a progress but not an end point, then Ledecky will swim three relays 800 fs, 400 fs and 400IM. Her time at 100 at this meet would earn her first place in Olympic trials in 2012.

easyspeed

No way KL will do the individual 100 free in Rio. She will eventually focus on it, but that will come later in her career. There is, however, a chance we will see her on the 4×100 relay this summer.

easyspeed

Re: Franklin: I think it is too early to write her off. She might or might not show improvement in the future.

There is no doubt her tenure at Cal did not serve her career well; there is no debating that point any longer. Her most recent poor performance at was a direct result of her decision to prioritize the NCAA over LCM and international competition.

Missy dug a hole for herself and she is having a tough time climbing out. However, she is training hard now. Remember MP last year? He swam the Pro Series broken down and went “slow” and people said he was done. Also- you have someone like Lochte who has been known to look horrible in season and then does great once rested.

So we shall only know come taper time.

easyspeed

*most recent performance at Worlds, that should read, not at the meet going on now

Yozhik

Easyspeed, KL is not a member of Campbells, Sjostrom, Kromowidjojo, Heemskirk club. But last Friday she made it very clear that American sprinters have to move to make some room for her. I will doubt that she plans to race 100 in Rio, despite the fact that she could be at sixth place in Kazan. To be at Olympic sprinters final is by itself very honorable and remarkable for the 1500m world record holder. Can you picture Sun Yang in such situation? I don’t think she is going to do so. She has another amazing record which she probably values as well – 100% golds at each major attempt. But she may want this IM relay and it is doable as we see it now. And BTW, you probably remember similar “no way” not long time ago if one was talking about Ledecky being favorite at 200.

easyspeed

I never doubted KL’s ability to become a great 200 swimmer. To the contrary, over a year ago I predicted that she would break the 200 free WR in 2016.

My goodness, I’m starting to sound like my friend “aswimfan”. 🙂

Anyway, the 100 is a different animal. Ledecky might get on top in that event some day but it’s going to take longer if she does.

Craig Lord

Yozhik, yes, US women’s sprinting has been relatively weak for a while now compared to Australia – but wherever the time sat in 2012, we’re in 2016 – and 53.7 is a fine time for KL but it won’t make an impact over 100m in intl waters. I was writing in the context of a possible gold count and Shane Gould, count and WRs/Olympic and career range. Shane held the 100m world record (and 2, 4, 8 and 15 simultaneously, of course and only woman ever to do all that and own 200IM EWR, extraordinary scope); I very much doubt that KL will ever do that (100 fr and 200IM WRs) even if she ends her career sometime when as one of the greatest women swimmers all-time (on current trajectory, likely). As I said, I see a prospective 5 gold in Rio, I don’t yet see a 6th. “will seem three relays 800 400 and 400IM” .. really? From what Bruce G has said, she’ll be in the 200 free.

Craig Lord

Yozhik: 200 and KL was not a ‘no way’ for me and John Lohn. We wrote of that potential in 2013. A 52 flat 100 is a very different prospect: you are looking at a 25.4 50 swimmer who may well be able to crack 25 one day. I don’t see her ever cracking 24 – those who can or are getting close include people who have their eye on Steffen in a hovercraft. Not the same as the 200 argument.

Yozhik

Don’t forget she is just 18 – a Grammer school age for sprinter. The only thing that keeps me away from being too optimistic is her style. Does it have any potentials for improvement. She obviously became stronger but this is very limited source of improvement. The technique is the key to success. It will be very strange from the general point of view to be successful with the same style from 1500 to 100. Is it possible to swim differently for the same person at different distances?

Eugene Chc

KL in her 800m record swim – 750m with her standart stroke and last 50 straight arm

Yozhik

Craig, I have never questioned neither your nor John’s level of professionalism and ability to stay with scientifically reasonable, not emotional approach whenever it comes to foreseeing the future. But this forum with all associated assumptions, opinions, predictions, baseless expectations, unbridled optimism is what I like a lot about these talks. Thank you for being a calm judge of all these turbulances of human imagination. You are like a father who keeps the order when children become to noisy and disobedient 🙂 😀

Craig Lord

Yozhik, I promise to go easy on sending you all to bed early 🙂

Yozhik

Craig, who knows what Ledecky’s plan regarding OG would be depending on the way the circumstances get develop. In this Ledecky enterprise that includes Ledecky family, coach and Katie not everything is up to coach’s decision. My observation of coach’s behavior during WC in Kazan let me to think that he disliked strongly this double idea. He was portraying Ledecky as underdog before the race. He was afraid to hear from Ledecky next morning that she feels like a crap. He was uncharacteristically euphorically optimistic when all this was over. It was all said by him publicly and makes him to be seen in my eyes a very responsible professional coach who knows how damaging the oxygen deficiency can be. I know the marathon runner who after finishing Boston marathon was so disoriented for weeks that couldn’t drive and couldn’t cross the street without someone else’s help. I know some good swimmer at high school who after stupid long running competition when everybody but him stopped, could not put his head under water after that and missed by that the State Championships.
Look at this race one more time http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x30d7g2 especially the footage after Pellegrini’s interview. You will see a young girl who got hurt but not a fricking mutant. At such moment nobody will believe including Bruce G. at first place that Franklin is “resuscitating” next day World Champion.
Katie can make and insist on crazy from ordinary person’s view decisions. And Bruce hardly can overpower it.

paolo rubbiani

Like Yozhik, who has a sort of “empatic link” with Ledecky, I love these assumptions, opinions etc among swimming fans.
Ah, I’m not joking, Yozhik, I remember your posts about Ledecky and I acknowledge that you have always been very effective to point out her extraordinary will of succeed and fierce determination.
Now you have written: “Ledecky behaves like it is her territory and no intruders allowed. She will die for this medal, Sjostrom may let it go if it would be too much”,
and I think that you have hit the centre.
Sjostrom has huge potential for the 200 free: she is the lone that, in my opinion, may challenge Ledecky in Rio, but for a so great challenge are necessary a great heart and will, bravery and resolution, and, as you said, Sarah (and her coach) may let it go if they think that could be too much.
Anyway, I think that the final decision will be shortly known

Also about Franklin I think that her greatest trouble, now, is taking a decision about her schedule.
The double 200 free-100 back is very harsh because the 200 free semifinals are a short time before the 100 back final. In 2012 Franklin had the greatness and the bravery to stick with it and win the gold medal in 100 back ,but now the scenario is widely different and I think that Missy must make a choice : or the backstroke events giving up the 200 free, or 200 free and 200 back giving up the 100 back (the indivdual 100 free is out, in my opinion).
Anyway, now Franklin is in heavy training and yesterday has swum a decent double 200 free-200 back.
I think that she remains the best backstroker in Usa and has great chances to be a double individual medalist at Olympics if she’s making a choice.

easyspeed

@ Paolo above: the decision may be out of Missy’s hands. Don’t forget she has to deal with Schmitt and Ledecky at Trials and only two individual spots. I’d put my $ on AS and KL as things are shaping up..

easyspeed

Speaking of Trials, that brings me to an important point: here in the USA, we are at a self inflicted disadvantage for putting our Trials so close to the Games. KL is the only American now who could not taper for the qualifying meet and still make the team. With one exception: the 200 free. Which poses a problem. She either has to rest a little bit early and risk the effects of an early taper at the games, or not taper and miss qualifying in the 200. I think she will manage, but it is something to consider. If the qualifying meet was earlier, I say KL wins the 200 free 99.9% certainty; however, because of our nutty re-taper problem, it is going to make things tougher. Especially since, as a distance swimmer, she needs to maintain enough volume to do the longer events. Food for thought.

easyspeed

I have been on a mission for a number of years to get Trials pushed back to at least 4-6 months out. When it finally happens, all I ask for in return is an autographed poster from the entire USA men’s and women’s team. “Easyspeed, thank you; you rock. Now we can finally be at our best.”

Ger

Unbelieveable…8:06

aswimfan

I keep maintaining sub 8 will not be swum in this decade, and if Ledecky does it, she needs to be studied if she has genetic make-up that is advantageous for swimming. In fact, I think she already does.
Even if she already did 8:07 just a few months ago, 8:06 is still crazy.

On Franklin, I agree with easyspeed. I kept saying that Franklin made the wrong decision for her swimming career when she chose to swim amateur college. The negative impact is drastically mitigated by truncating the college swimming by 2 years, but still.
Not only she lost millions of dollars in income, but also it halted her swimming development. Ledecky made a very good decision by red-shirting.

I’ve seen too many American swimmers whose swimming development trajectory was completely halted or even slowed down one year after they swim amateurishly in college. Not so much the amateur concept in itself but due to overemphasize on swimming short course yards.

ThereaLuigi

Congrats, Roy, you managed to sneak in the words “cheat” and “doping” in an article about Ledecky. That’s your favorite sport. I know you will claim that I misread you, please save my time and yours and consider it already done.

Craig Lord

Gone, Therea – edited out and the note replacing that part of Roy’s post explains why.

aswimfan

easyspeed,

US olympics trials have little chance to be moved 4-6 months out as long as the NCAA championships are still held in the current schedule.

My idea for compromise is that during Olympics year, NCAA championships be swum in LCM so that the college swimmers can train in LCM throughout the year and only have to make some sort of extended taper if trials are held in early April.

Yozhik

Having Ledecky being that strong at 200 the USA W4x200 team has a real chance to bring down another suite era record 7:42.08 (China)
Ledecky 1:54.5
Franklin 1:55.0
Schmitt 1:55.5
XXX 1:57.0

aswimfan

That w4x200 WR is the softest of all current relays WRs.

It will go in Rio, and should have gone in Barcelona or Kazan.

Leave a comment

Post a comment with your SwimVortex Account. Don't have a SwimVortex Account, Sign Up?

(*) Fields are required!
×