Katie Ledecky Flexes Sprint/Distance Muscle to Jumpstart Olympic Campaign

Katie Ledecky, by Peter Bick
Katie Ledecky, by Peter Bick

Katie Ledecky unfurled another sub-4:00 effort in the 400 freestyle and also cranked out a 53.75 mark in the 100 free to further her status as a freestyle great.

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Yozhik

In 2012 during Ledecky’s epic race the British commentator said about 15 year old girl that she is the one who became very famous very suddenly. Tonight very suddenly became very clear that there no more jokes and doubts about Ledecky and her place among American sprinters.

Yozhik

What will happen tomorrow? If she gets to the final at 400IM (that is very feasible) she will have back to back 400IM and 200 free facing Sjostrom. Will she skipped 400IM?

Yozhik

John, what has happened to Allison Schmitt? Will she swim in Austin?

John Lohn

According to USA Swimming, Allison Schmitt has remained in Colorado Springs to get in training work.

John Lohn

Yozhik, the heat sheets for the morning are not showing Ledecky, so it seems she is focusing on her 200 free matchup with Sjostrom & Franklin.

commonwombat

Curious how blasé we’ve become recently with the likes of Seebohm, Larkin, Hosszu, C1 & Sjostrom regularly putting out world leading times “in season”; likewise today with Ledecky in the 400. Leah Smith looks to be firming her case for the 2nd spot in that event although it will be curious to see what time it will take.

I was expecting Ledecky to pump out a 53.7 to put down a “marker” for 4×100 selection but it certainly is surprising to see it at this point. It certainly puts her into contention for an individual swim in this event although whether she would pursue this is another matter.

A further time drop to below 53.5 is quite plausible but that is still some way from contender status as indicated by Sjostrom’s “off-peak” 53.12. Its certainly would strengthen this US relay’ not to the extent of being a game-changer and moving them up a step on the podium but would solidify their bronze from CAN & SWE challenge.

Meili’s time in the W200BRS B final was a full second quicker than Sogar’s winning time in the A final and certainly puts her into the frame over the longer journey at Trials.

Yozhik

Commonwombat, it would be right to mention that Ledecky came to Austin after completing high altitude training session. So some change in performance was expected, but not a drop of 0.8 sec in personal best at 100m distance. Adding Ledecky to the competition for the place in 400 relay will make this competition stronger and will make most likely American team up to 1sec faster compare to Kazan performance. Still too far behind Australia but the second place becomes very reachable.

DDias

Yozhik,
Ledecky drop in 100 free wasn’t full representative comparing with last year.I have no doubt if Ledecky had swam 100free at Worlds she would be faster than her 54.55 old PB. Of course, doing that time now is really impressive(I was expecting a time like that at UStrials).

Yozhik

4:04 by Leah Smith is a very decent and promissing January time. Should it be no Ledecky finishing 10m ahead this result would have much more attention.

Yozhik

DDias, looking at Ledecky swimming next to Sjostrom I will never assume that it is possible to show the 10th WC season’s time with such heavy looking inefficient style. I thought that 54.5 was good enough for her and that she was focusing mainly on long distances in Kazan.
But when I saw that there was no surprise and celebration with breaking 54 sec barrier I am inclining to think that you are right.

Yozhik

Franklin also probably has to choose between 200 fs and 200 back finals that go one after another tomorrow. Unless she wants to train herself with similar scenario in Rio.

commonwombat

Yozhik, no Rio medals can yet be engraved; those old spoilers named illness & injury can and most certainly will make their intrusions.

Re the W4X100; should C1 & C2 be fit and healthy during Rio then AUS should be prohibitive favourites. Take one of them out and they are still probably favourites but the race gets much tighter. Both of them out then they are still likely medallists but its a real catfight.

Even with Ledecky showing her hand, I still see the USA behind NED. Heemskerk pulled out a sub52 leg in Kazan; whilst she’s erratic individually she IS a proven relay performer. Kromowidjo is a likely 53low from the gun or sub53 flying start.

At this point, USA doesn’t have a reliable sub53 leg and Ledecky isn’t really altering that scenario. Steenbergen is on par with the current US standard and whilst De Meer IS a weak link; USA in recent years always seems to have someone dropping in a 54sec leg so there’s no guarantee of a “claw back” there.

Ger

It will be interesting to see if Ledecky goes under 1:55 for the first time at this meet. Her 100m time is a good indicator that her front end speed will be better.

aswimfan

Indirectly trying to say that specialization only occurs in this decade or century is a disservice to the extreme versatility of Shane Gould.

Even in 1956 swimmers already had specialization: Fraser in sprint, case in point.
If it were that easy to break WRs across multiple distances (and in the case of Gould, in IM too), then why didn’t extreme talent like Fraser or even Debbie Mayer able to hold all freestyle WRs at the same time or even during their career? And not even Kornelia Ender was close to do what Gould did, despite gifted with extreme talent and PED. And no one on the men’s side had nearly the same versatility across the distances as Gould did.

And speaking about specialization in these days and age, let me recite the names of active swimmers who wpuld disagree with the notion:
Phelps, Hosszu, Sjostrom, Lochte, Hagino, Cseh, Franklin, SMOC, Watanabe, etc etc.

Yozhik

Commonwombat you are absolutely right with your analysis. Relay has 4 times more variations of random factors than individual race. Plus possibility of poor exchange and DQ. I just still cannot comprehend and associate Ledecky with WC final at 100. With this time she could be 6th. Look like Sjostrom were gliding over the water, but Ledecky was fighting against it. It is true- she didn’t breath last 10m. But still, how was this 53.7 possible by Ledecky?

commonwombat

ASW, in Fraser’s time there were only the 2 female FS events at the Olympics; the 100m & the 400m with the 200m & 800m debuting in 1968. Fraser DID pick up silver in the 400 in Melbourne but was off the podium in Rome & Tokyo.

Yozhik, who knows with regards to Ledecky and the 100. I did not see the race but you may have so I shall give credence to your observations. It may well be that this major jump IS “as good as it gets” for Ledecky at this distance OR any further time drops may be much smaller increments.

Yozhik

Commonwombat, it is possible that yesterday it was just a lucky race. But observing how methodically Ledecky moves toward target set I would rather tell that nothing about Ledecky’s progress so far can be attributed to the lucky accident. I will not exclude the possibility that this ambitious girl wants to swim both relays. With the current state of American sprinting affairs it doesn’t look that absurd any more.
P.S. is it any shorter nickname that can be used respectfully when addressing to you? The autocorrect doesn’t like it at all and consistently replaces commonwombat with commonest. I am tired to struggle with it. 🙂

John Lohn

ASW, I think you’ve read my work long enough to know that no disrespect was meant toward Shane Gould. And by specialization, I was referring to the freestyle stroke (obviously, others range into other events, as your list indicated). You don’t see the Campbell sisters above the 100 free, Jazz Carlin under the 400 free, etc. Ledecky’s range is phenomenal, which was the point.

Yozhik

In my last comment i meant that Ledecky may target all three relays including 400IM. With Franklin not focusing strongly on racing freestyle distances she may satisfied with the 400 fs relay only. If Manuel isn’t significantly superior of Ledecky in summer then I would rather prefer to see combative Katie swimming fs leg in IM relay (if she is about 53.5 by that time of course). All other American sprinters do not look stronger now than Ledecky was yesterday.

ThereaLuigi

I agree with John Lohn. I have already written in another website that KL’s 100 free time has a great significance and that she is destined to go down as the best “pound-for-pound” freestyler. She has got now the whole package, sprint speed included, and in this respect reminds me of Thorpe. Both are monsters in the 200, 400, and 800.Thorpe was fast enough in the 100 to final and win medals at WC and the Olympics, Katie is not or not yet, but she swims the 1500 (and at WR pace at that), and Thorpe did not.

ThereaLuigi

The 100 freestyle video is here:https://youtu.be/-imrDeyj9jw
Race starts around 2:00, KL is third from above, SS 4th.

I don’t think KL trashes the water, Yozhik. She is simply showing here a “loping” stroke, exhibited also by other swimmers such as Phelps or Lezak, as opposed to Sjostrom’s more regular and smooth stroke. The latter is a better sight, but pretty and fast don’t always go hand in hand.

You can find all other races of the day on USA Swimming youtibe channel, here: https://www.youtube.com/user/USASwimmingOrg/videos

Craig Lord

Therealuigi, I think (like most folk, I’d imagine) that KL’s range as far as Olympic medals will be 200, 400, 800 (not 100) – impressive enough 🙂 – and all three relays are a possible but unlikely to all be gold in Rio, the reality and potential of the AUS 4×100 free quartet beyond the same for the USA this cycle, for example (notwithstanding the wriggle room for stepping up and stepping down and the need to do it on the day, of course – nothing’s done ’til its done).

commonwombat

Yozhik, Wombat is just fine or even CW; I’ll know who you’re referring to !

Yozhik

Luigi, thank you for link. Unfortunately it is not that good to be conclusive about quality of Ledecky’s race from the perfectionist’s point of view. After watching it live I had an impression that it wasn’t executed following strongly some plan and was affected by swimming ahead Sjostrom. Somewhere at 60m Ledecky was chopping trying to stay with Sjostrom, but after letting her go Katie returned back to whatever was convenient. I also noticed that Sjostrom not only was smoother with her strokes probably because they were longer, but surprisingly had it more frequent than Ledecky did. On the other hand if the way she swims is naturally good for her then it will be a bad idea to force Ledecky to swim other way. Whoever looks at Janet Evans’ style will decide that this girl was never taught how to swim until he looks at her times. I want this race to be imperfect, so it would be room for improvement.

Yozhik

@Craig Lord. Three years ago nobody believed that Ledecky can be competitive at 200. If someone told you that time that in three years she will be ranked the third fastest ever at this distance you would probably responded that you don’t want to waste your time answering to person who has no knowledge as so ever about professional swimming. She was the youngest swimmer in that race yesterday. Just 18. It is not even an age for sprinter. With all this cascade of records we are losing sense of how young she actually is.

ThereaLuigi

When the supposedly front-half swimmer is behind at the 100, you know she is gonna lose the 200.
Ledecky has got sone guts. She takes it out to anybody. She is neve defensive.

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