Kazan 2015 Worlds SwimVortex Review: Katie Ledecky & Adam Peaty On Crest Of Wave

Top swimmers of the 2015 world championships: Katie Ledecky (USA) and Adam Peaty (GBR) - images by Patrick B. Kraemer

The 16th World Swimming Championships in Kazan are now a part of the history of swimming. Here is our overview of the event, lists of top performers and performances on all-time ranks and points, medals tables, including Olympic events only, and a compilation of links to our comprehensive coverage, the words and views from Craig Lord, John Lohn and Liz Byrnes, the images by Patrick B. Kraemer

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Comments

Hetty Oliver

Craig, is it not Adam Peaty’s lost record from 2014?

Craig Lord

Yes, Hetty… i say so in 3 places but not sure where you see 2015… point me to it and I will change it. Thanks

Hetty Oliver

I meant 2014, as in the following: *** – Cameron Van der Burgh and the Russian Mixed relay records are tied up with the saga of the lost records from 2014. That’s why I was querying it, whether it is Cameron’s or Adams’s?

Danjohnrob

Thank you, Mr. Lord, for your exhaustive and objective analysis of this event! If only FINA would use your method of analysis…

I hope the Australian Swim Team is getting lots of positive press for their terrific performance and that Swimming Australia is getting praise for the dramatic way they have turned things around! Australia definitely was the top nation (only Olympic events SHOULD count in analysis), and were it not for Ms. Ledecky USA Swimming would have been thoroughly embarrassed.

Craig Lord

Thanks Hetty – have clarified the notion of *** is a longer summary – the more detailed explanation is left to the article linked to.

Ger

Danjohnrob, I think this was a big wake-up call for the U.S. They can’t hide behind Ledecky’s successes without which, as you say, they would have been thoroughly embarrassed. But a kick up the backside is no harm if they take heed and learn from it.
Craig, in your calculations relating to rate of improvement 2012-2015, should not the slowest times for 2012 have been used?

Craig Lord

No Ger: slowest times are things like a heats effort at a local domestic meet… and that would make no sense in an exercise comparing progress across seasons.

Ger

My mistake Craig, I read it as the beginning of 2012, and not the 3 year cycle as you indicated.

Craig Lord

Thanks Danjohnrob

Personal Best

Thanks Craig.

What an interesting and eventful World Champs.

Good effort by the US winning more medals in total then any other nation has in recent WCs history.
The last time they won this few though was in 2009… no surprises there.

Australia’s best showing since 2007, and, GB’s best performance in a very long time, right?

Also, that article linked re: the 1500m. What words can be said now to explain that?

clive rushton

Indeed; the link to the 1,500 locker-room report is very disturbing. Hopefully the truth will out.

Meanwhile someone should market t-shirts with Cornel’s quote on it. It’s mind-boggling.

Asterisk championships are only an election away.

longstroke

It was a high quality and exciting World Championships but the program was even more bloated than usual. Was I the only one underwhelmed by the mixed relays? The swimming community wasn’t clamouring for their inclusion but FINA for whatever reason decided we needed an even bigger program. The coaches didn’t appear to treat them very seriously judging by some of the selections(or non-selections) and the swimmers didn’t either with constant references to the mixed relays being “fun events”. Why then should the fans give two hoots about them? I know the results were included in the medal table but for me they don’t really count. They reveal nothing new about the strength of each nation. The same thing goes for the 50 metre form stroke events.

In recent Olympics there has been some criticism about the size of the swimming program with many events described as “Mickey Mouse”. I don’t agree with the criticism. However, when it comes to the World Championships program I think the critics might have a point.

gheko

Craig on the mens gold medal list you have GB with 3, they actually won 4 Peaty 50/100 breast and Guy and co 200m 4x200m.

stabilo

gheko – that’s for Olympic events only (no 50 Breast).

stabilo

Great analysis as ever, was particularly interested to see those %s about Ledecky’s improvement. Not sure I would subjectively have Katinka’s 200IM sitting 6th – I’d rank it just below the 800. Also happy to demote (relatively speaking!) Sjostrom’s times, on account of her finishes giving me real anguish. Could expect another chunk coming off those.

Ger

Roy, behave yourself……onboard motors are banned by the IOC.

felix

Roy your infactuation with Katie is getting disturbing. I hope she doesn’t read your nonsense. Make the men’s finals…..shut up. I’m sure you are well aware what it took to make the men’s final in Kazan.

gheko

Katie is a great athlete who is obviously working harder than any other female distance swimmer, the fact that she actually trains with the men may have something to do with it!

commonwombat

Roy, I fear that in your “enthusiasm” you have failed to take into account a certain reality.

Namely that “runs” of record breaking form MUST, in time, come to an end. It happens to ALL record breakers in any sport and swimming is no exception.

Thorpe started his “run” in 1999 & was “done” by end of 2001. Janet Evans started hers in 1987, ended 1989. They were still winning at World/Olympic level afterwards but their record runs had ceased.

She MAY decide to emulate Shane Gould & get out whilst I’m on top; such decisions are hers to make but the lesson of history is that they DO eventually come to an end. The issue with Ledecky is whether that will come before Rio or after.

BTW, your 200 prediction strains all semblances of credibility. She could most certainly win the 200 in Rio but she’ll be just one of a number of contenders.

Craig Lord

Roy, your predictions show a great lack of skill when it comes to swimming and crystal balls (one of your other comments is no longer there: not only very silly but way too personal without any justification whatsoever – we’re not a gossip column)

Hetty Oliver

I must admit that I find Katie an amazing swimmer at the moment, including quite a number of other swimmers too but as long as she still has a “window of opportunity” left for training she shouldn’t get burn out and should improve. I certainly don’t under estimate anything she can do at the moment.

Craig Lord

Roy, Katie Ledecky will not go sub-8mins neither in Rio nor career; that would mean a 1sec per 100m improvement on the speed we’ve seen – not going to happen.

Bad Anon

To say Katie will or wont go below 8mins in the 800free is akin to predicting who the next US president will be. from a practical stand point going 7.59 would entail swimming 3.59 400s twice which would really push the realms of possibility to another dimensions. katie was barely under 4mins in the 400free and mainting such a pace is untenable without any boost from for example 100% poly suit.

clive rushton

Oh, the delights of the wonderful interweb. To predict someone won’t do something is almost as wishful as predicting someone will do something. The future is [pretty] unknowable. Someone, somewhere will go sub-8:00; why not Ledecky? Why not next year? Bob Beamon anyone?

Craig Lord

I’m happy to put my name to that one, Clive and Bad Anon: KL will not break 8mins. Breaking 8:05 would be a towering feat of beyond. I disagree that predicting sub-8mins and predicting it won’t happen are the same things: they are not.

Bad Anon

I never thought Kukors 2.06.15WR would be broken EVER, we all know what happened. With the pace and progress of the sport, perfection of technique and nutrition, research in optimal human performance etc, we can expect extraordinary things, going sub 8min i’d concede is very unlikely but nothing totally impossible

Craig Lord

Different swims come with different explanations, as we know, Bad Anon. I would not like to generalise in the way you suggest.

Yozhik

what happened in 1,500 locker-room generate a lot of theories. Sun Young may was strongly advised not to swim final race because of his heart condition. He could be disagree to the last minute and that may explain his behavior. If this is the case then the drug he used still being mild in terms of speed improvement could be very critical in Sun Young’s case. He may wasn’t able to swim this distance at all without such support and all his records could be questionable.
Or it could be visa versa. He didn’t want to swim the race because of his heart but was pushed by Chinese authorities and that caused the conflict.
Whenever there is no transparency the conspiracy theories take place.

commonwombat

I veer towards Craig’s view. Ledecky’s records will inevitably be broken but, barring another outbreak of “suits” or the like, progress downwards is likely to be incremental.

Yozhik

Roy, I would not take a liberty to say that swimming with boys doesn’t affect Ledecky’s performance. I would compare it to the navel seal tough training. It helps one’s mind and body not to overreact under stressful conditions and to respond to them in optimal way. Her 200m semi and final races are very good illustration to this point. She was definitely trained to come from behind and not to fail apart being out of resources. As to her technique she may consciously or unconsciously got something from those who swims next to her. Is it efficient considering her woman body forms is up to coach to decide. You don’t know and it is very possible that her coach strictly prohibited her of copying boys technique because it may not applicable to the girl like she and it may hurt her performance.

Yozhik

I noticed that Roy stopped betting on his prediction. If he puts money on the table I will be the first in line to challenge his prognoses about Katie 🙂 Unless he cares about his money or his reputation I don’t care about this sub 8 minutes prediction. Why not sub 7 minute or even sub 6 to be even more ridicules.

Yozhik

The Katie Ledecky’s phenomenon deserves very serious technical analysis and I hope this site will provide such in the future. It is not only about her record times or unprecedented dominance but also is about her unstoppable steady progress for more than three years already. And many are expecting next episodes of this serial to be continued next year. The 2015 was kind of different from what we saw before. There was substantial progress in personal bests at 1500 and 800 on one side and at 100 on the other side, but none of such at 400 and 200. It is kind of strange remembering that 400 was her major training exercise and as her coach said they were checking where they can go from there. Her 400 in Kazan being actually fast was first of all very weird.
At 800 she still has serious difficulties to get into steady pace in the middle of the race. In Kazan’s race she skipped this part of race completely and did it with negative splits. Her previous world record was done with negative splits as well. Will she return to the three stages strategy? So far all such attempts failed to produce fast time. Or this is the new approach in racing this distance that will be executed by everybody in the future. Therefore the predicting of her progress at this particular distance is not simple at all. It can be impressive if she finds new way of swimming it or what we saw can the top of what she is capable for.

Bad Anon

Olympic Games are the pinnacle of the sport and the four year training cycle culminates in peak performances every four years. It wont be surprising to see Ledecky going 8.04 800free, 3.56 400free, 1.53 200free; Agnel going 1.42 200free, Seebohm breaking 58 100back, Missy going 2.03 200back, Bronte campbell going 51.99 flat start 100free, Hosszu going 4.27 400im on day 1 of the Games, Belmonte on 4.28 and Miley 4.29. So much to be expected but fast swimming is most definitely guaranteed with crazy times needed to final!

Ger

I think Yozhik, that Ledecky swam a really good race in the 200 especially after such a tough day previously. Only 2 swimmers have broken 1:55 in the 2 previous major events; Schmitt in 2012 and Franklin in 2013. Also, it looked like Ledecky mispaced the 400M and went out too fast in the first 200M. Or possibly, it takes her a while to really get going. On both occasions she broke the WR for the 400M last year, she had had other swims earlier in each meet.

gheko

Roy most of those athletic records from the 80’s that are still world records were broken with the assistance of PED’S.

Lennart van Haaften

Ledecky swimming an 8min 800 is obviously nonsense given she has a hard time breaking 4min in the 400. She may be able to improve her times, but not by much if at all. I expect her to be close to her limits. Maybe a 8.05-8.06 next year, and I can see a 3.57 400m if she focuses more on speed, maybe even a 1.53 200m.

It’s hard to predict when she reaches her peak though. When Phelps slowed down around 2004-2006 I thought he was following the Thorpe trajectory, but then his second and highest peak came in 2007-2008.

Someone else will break 8min in the 800, but that could easily take 10-20 years.

Lennart van Haaften

Why do people keep saying that certain records are unbreakable? Especially people who are aware of the history of timed sports in general. Records have always been improving following a certain trend line. The absolute gains tend to slow down and the actual progression can be very irregular at times, but time will catch up with any amazing world record. Unless civilization breaks down of course.

In track, the progression can be very slow, due to fewer ways to improve performance (e.g. technique and body position is less critical due to lower drag). The doping-assisted women’s records were (and still are) far ahead of their time and obviously will take much longer to be broken. But someday it will happen. All it takes is a Ledecky-like supertalent.

In theory you could argue that there is an asymptotic limit to the progression, and that some doping records are below that. But there is no reason to assume that future athletes won’t find ways to use new types of doping, genetic enhancements, etc to achieve beyond what is possible naturally.

Craig Lord

No record is unbreakable Lennart, you’re right – far less interesting altogether if doping records are beaten by new dopers, in my view.

Personal Best

Wow, it would have been interesting to have read SwimVortex in 1981 when Mary T set the 200 fly WR at 2:05.96.
That record stood for 19 years.

I’m sure at the time some were predicting Mary T would take it down to 2:04. or 2:03, or 2:02. 2:04 didn’t happen till 2008, with suits.

7:55 in the 800 may happen one day, but it may not be ‘tomorrow’.

Craig Lord

🙂 PB, good perspective. I don’t see any trajectory that suggests a sub-8mins in the extraordinary leader of the pack right now. KL would have to make progress at twice and more the rate that she has made progress since 2012. As you note PB, there are swims that seem Beamonesque at the time and that then stay that way. We may indeed see KL break her standards once more in Rio but she could also claim gold in the 400 and 800 without the need of bps. Same at USA Olympic trials. Sub-8-mins will indeed not be ‘tomorrow’

Sabastian Tran

I believe KL could get bellow 8mins, but I also believe that Britney Spears could learn how to play the Viola. Both are extremely unlikely.

But when I think about it, she could pick up .2 on her reaction time at the start, plus give a little more in the first 50, so maybe 1.2secs there. Then with college swimming, if she can pick up .1 each turn, that’s another 1.5secs, which will bring her down to 8:05.

They’re all skill based improvements. she could swim faster, .2/lap, that’s another 3 secs. Still, that’s only an 8:02.

8minutes is too unrealistic at this stage. Small steps!

h2tk

This preoccupation with Ledecky and whether she swims like a man or not, or whether she trains with teenage boys and that is possibly the reason she is so dominant, is all nonsense.

Katie Ledecky swims like Katie Ledecky!

If she trains with young men then that is more to do with squad and lane management and having training partners doing similar training times. There would hardly be any top women swimmers who do not train with young men. But this is nothing to do with attempting to have them swim “like a man” or trying to replicate “male swimming”.

In fact, there is no such thing as “male swimming” as distinct from “female swimming”. If the strokes look different then that is a factor of, in the case of men, superior strength and power, particularly core strength and being able to hold a stroke. For example, in freestyle men are more able to use a paddle stroke and catch as opposed to the traditional sculling technique. Why? Because a paddle stroke requires incredible strength to hold, and not all women are capable of it. Rebecca Adlington, however, was an exception. She was very strong and swam with a paddle technique. And more and more elite women have the core body strength to hold the body position required to (and I hesitate to use such a clumsy term) “swim like a man”.

And whether Katie Ledecky will go sub-8.00 or sub-4.00 or not? There is no doubt she will continue to break her own records, but progress is not a straight-line trajectory, and records will continue to be broken, but I would suggest not by the same margins.

But I will hang my hat on one prediction. Katie Ledecky will not repeat the Shane Gould feat of holding the WR records of every womens’ freestyle event (excepting the 50m Free which they didn’t have in Shane Gould’s day) of 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m.

So, readers, go knock yourselves out on that prediction.

gheko

Its not about swimming like a man which is a ridiculous statement, She is quite slim and tiny, but then again a lot of past distance girls have had a similar build, I am amazed though that with her endurance she has not yet had any injuries, Obviously she is doing a lot of dry land work as well as pool, does anyone know how many kms/miles she swims a week?

gheko

I also think her technique is close to perfect!!

gheko

“I mean really, if you walk in off the street, she’s not faster than everybody else – she’s just average,” Bruce Gemmell said, smiling. “Then you realize she’s a girl. And then you realize the boy next to her is a 2012 Olympian. And then you realize the boy on the other side is maybe the best high schooler in the country.”

Watching the 18-year-old Ledecky go stroke-for-stroke with elite male competition is like sending the best of the WNBA into a gym to play one-on-one with NBA stars. And expecting them to keep it close.

Ledecky keeps it close. And if the top males don’t bring it on a given day, she’ll beat them.

h2tk

I agree gheko that “swimming like a man” is a ridiculous statement.

But actually, Ledecky isn’t slim and tiny. She is quite solid and only slightly shorter than Lauren Boyle who is easily 6′ tall, if not more. Certainly Janet Evans was small in comparison, but she was actually average height for a woman.

I wonder whether combinations of other factors are more important here. Certainly we could surmise about things such as her levels of VO2 max (although that has some limits in application to swimming) her relative lactate production (or lack of it), muscle fatigue, stroke mechanics … the list goes on. I would be surprised if she didn’t do dry land work, but I think it is of less importance than her pool work.

What is certain is that she is young, is physically maturing, and if her team of coaches and analysts can keep her injury free, then we could be witnessing a hell of a ride for years to come.

gheko

Yeah its decptive she is actually 6ft tall, but her body is nothing out of the ordinary, she looks nothing like a man, compared to say an Astrid Strauss!

aswimfan

Training with male swimmers is what makes Ledecky fast is a lot of B.S.

Ledecky is fast because of many reasons not because she trains with men.

Lotte Friis has been training with the greatest male swimmer ever, and she has actually regressed and became slower.

gheko

aswim fan that’s what her coach reckons, Lotte is an older swimmer at 27, Katie is 18.

DDias

roy,
Hagino is a phenom.I am always asking myself what four more inches could do for his swim.

Patrick S

You forgot Sarah Sjöström in the list of double winners in solo events.

Craig Lord

Impossible, Patrick 🙂

Yozhik

Not anticipated Ledecky’s wins in freestyle, but Sjostrom’s five golds alone with a world record that is what could’ve made an achievement of greater magnitude and set a historical mile stone in women swimming. At first glance she was so close to get it done. She exceled at 50m and 100m fly and she beat Cate Campbell. But unfortunately it wasn’t enough. Despite this feat looked very feasible it may wasn’t meant to be. I would be really surprised if Sarah and her team didn’t test the possibility of racing 200m free at practice. And the decision to skip this distance was made after serious consideration. As Sun Young admitted the most hurting to him was 200m race. Maybe Sjostrom’s freestyle sprint is so fragile that including 200m free in her program could leave her without any medals at all. It would be interesting to know about her ambitions for the next year.

commonwombat

Yozhik, it WILL be interesting to see whether the Sjostrom camp reconsiders on not.

Looking at her current program:

– 100fly: fair call to see her as prohibitive favourite.

– 50/100free: Has to be considered a very real chance of Gold but both C1 & C2 are significant obstacles. These 3 appear to have a clear gap on the field over 100 therefore look safe medal bets. RK joins the party for 50 but still a very strong medal bet.

With the 200free; her times from this year would certainly mark her as a clear contender but the depth of legitimate contenders could see her just as easily walk away with nothing as with any medal.

Craig Lord

Yozhik: the one that hurt most was the one he lost … and that’s in line with majority experience; losing always hurts more than winning, however painful both may be 🙂

Ger

The swimming program for 2016, does it follow exactly the layout for 2012?

Craig Lord

Pool alone, yes, as far as I last thought about it, Ger (will check when I get the chance …)

Yozhik

Craig, you don’t tolerate any references to Sun Young as an expert. Being a guest at this site I will respect my Host dislikes. So I will refer to KL despite her racing experience is lesser the SY’s. If one looks at Ledecky’s 15:25 he will immediately notice how carefully, energy safe it was swam. Almost no variations in time from lap to lap. No emotions. Only at last 50 Katie, in her words, disobeyed the order and allowed herself a strong finish. That “small” thing almost kicked her out from 200m final and didn’t allow her to show expected (again by her words) under 1:55 next day.
Sjostrom may not need to be specially trained for 200m free. She can strictly follow sprinter training routing. With all that, thanks to her natural abilities, she still can show very fast time at 200m free. My point was that the reason of skipping 200 was not because she wasn’t trained to swim this distance at highest speed, but because racing this distance at high level meet will spent her. Whatever it looks like 99% chance at five sprinter’s distances maybe only 75% in reality. That’s why not swimming 200 free is so important.

Ger

It was reported that sjostrom, while in Kazan, said she would likely swim the 200 in Rio. Here, for example: http://olympictalk.nbcsports.com/2015/08/10/katie-ledecky-swimming-world-championships-rio-olympics-2016-sarah-sjostrom/
But did she say this before the 100M free final (if indeed she said it)?
The 200M sits between the 100M butterfly and 100M freestyle. The 200M heats begin the day after the butterfly final; the 100M free heats begin the day after the 200 final. The 100 free is the one she’s been after but will she see the 200 as a risk to winning it, or will she relent and see the 200 as the better option?

Yozhik

Yes. Ger there are plenty of uncertainties. What I am certain about is that she tested multiple times at practice the possibility to swim all 5 races. Since she sacrificed 200m then tests most likely weren’t optimistic. She skipped 200m not because she is lazy. Will she continue cutting off some races from her program or she will train differently to race all of them? We will see.

Max Nathan

3 comments:-
include the 800 free for men and 1500 free for women.
Print the T-shirt for all those coaches who want to see dirty swimmers outed.
Fun events for WC and National Champs liked mixed relays are good for the sport and for the swimmers who get to have some fun in what is a bloody hard slog to get to the WC or National Champs.

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