Queens of Consistency: Where Katie Ledecky Blazes A Pioneering Path To The Pantheon

Katie Ledecky of the USA by Patrick B. Kraemer
Katie Ledecky of the USA by Patrick B. Kraemer

Britain’s Jazz Carlin summed up the feeling of those racing in the tank with a shark when she said: “It is tough. She’s set incredible times, so far ahead of the field but we’re all individuals and we bring the best we can, we strive for the best we can be. You never know what can happen on the day. With the Olympics its best to expect the unexpected: you’ve got to be on your game and at the very best you can be. That’s what all the work is for.” The only way to approach the challenge presented by Katie Ledecky …

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Comments

aswimfan

If Ledecky doesn’t win 400-800, I will eat my speedo…metaphorically of course (and we know it’s not gonna happen anyway).

In 200, if Ledecky sticks to her plan, she’ll also win it. One way she will lose if she is forced to go faster from the start and spin her wheels.

kevin roose

Yes Aswimfan i agree the only way Mckeon can beat her is by using her obscene speed she has early. Pulling away from Ledecky and hoping her endurance work she has done gets her home ……..

aswimfan

kevin,
I think Sjostrom and Pellegrini will have more to say about that than mcKeon 🙂

Dan smith

Kevin roose up until very recently (as little as two months ago), I would have disagreed with you regarding Emma McKeon. However having seen her 2:07 in the 200 fly i,m having second thoughts with regards to her 200 free.

That 2:07 in the 200 fly denotes endurance which means she may be considerably faster in Rio. She also has the speed. Until recently I would have put sjostrom and pellegrinni as huuuge contenders ahead of her but for me, right now I don’t see a huge gap between McKeon and those two in endurance. However sjostrom has a 4:06 400 free and pellegrinni was once the 400 free WR holder albeit in a tech suit but she wasn’t too shabby in textile. Yes sjostrom and pellegrinni have shown endurance to the 400 free but the 200 fly is painful and requires endurance. Even sjostrom is sceptical about trying it out. I see McKeon as a contender along with pellegrinni, ledecky and sjostrom. Also ledecky, s stroke is starting to look shorter. I think it has to do with physical changes. She happens to look a lot more curvey to me. I think those physical changes affected her speed in the 100 free at the US trials so much that she didn’t finish in the top 4 but I don’t think it will affect her endurance that much. It might affect her speed endurance though.

kevin roose

Yes Dan i will be very dissapointed if Emma does not do PBS at this meet ….wheather that earns her medals will come down to the quality of opposition on the day …
Aswimfan beleives Sjostrom and Pellegrini will have more of a say in the 200 free than Emma i disagree i think her 200 free is looking good ….wherby in the 100 fly while i expect her to do a PB I cant see her beating Sjostrom …

commonwombat

400fr: Barring illness/injury, Ledecky has this. WR has to be part of the equation but neither should it be a distraction. She doesn’t need one to win this.

Smith has to be seen as clear favourite for silver but did she spend all her tickets in that race at Omaha ? Neither her 200 or 800 were anything special … who knows.

The issue re minor will essentially, who can break out of that ruck at 4.03 to either eclipse or match Smith at/around 4.00. Almost all are equally well credentialled; damned if I can pick it

800fr: Same Ledecky scenario. Minor medals even more open than 400. John summarised the Ashwood situation perfectly; her consistency of performance is extremely commendable but does she have anything more ?

Will it be the younger cohort (Smith, Kapas etc) or will the veterans (Carlin, Boyle, Friis) still have something to say. I can’t help thinking we may have representatives of both sororities present on the podium.

kevin roose

Aswood broke the Australian record in America just recently why wouldnt she have more ?????
Similiar to Mckeon Rio could be a break out meet for her no reason to suggest why not ?

aswimfan

Dan Smith,
Pellegrini’s textile 400 free wasn’t too shabby indeed. It was only 4:01.97 which was a textile record until Muffat broke it in 2012.
And now Pellegrini has the speed.

commonwombat

Kevin, so she swam a PB of 0.2sec ….. significance ?? She has been in the 8.18-8.19 range for the past couple of years …. and it IS incredibly commendable that she has shown consistency of performance at that level.

The question, that John is rightfully asking, is whether that IS her “ceiling” or whether she can break through to the 8.15ish range that may be needed to secure a medal. As yet, we have no definitive answer either way. She certainly has to be seen as a very legitimate medal contender but neither she be seen as a secure bet.

kevin roose

The signifigance was the PB was still done in heavy training with taper the silver medal beckons for her in the 800……

aswimfan

Why stop at silver?
If Ashwood were in heavy training, wouldn’t you think she will beat Ledecky and win gold?

massimiliano gallus

i don’t know why everyone think that Ledecky will sure win the 200 ! that’s crazy, and not objective right now. in the 200 the battle is open and real. she’s not on top of the ranking in this moment and at trials (maybe half tapered), she swam slower than others ( such pellegrini and Sjostrom ) in the same period – and pellegrini and Sjostrom didn’t need to be tapered for those races. i think she proved at trials that she has endurance but no the same pure speed of the others ( all the others sjostrom, McKeon, Hemskerk and pellegrini are in the list of 52″- 53″ swimmers in 100). i think someone has lot more chances, techniques and speed of ledecky. we will see.

aswimfan

massimiliano,

Well, there’s some obvious difference between Ledecky’s 200 free at US trials and the 1:54 that Sarah and Fede swam just recently:

Ledecky swam that time after three fast rounds of fast swimming (in addition to WR quality of 400 free heats and final).

Sarah and Fede swam their 1:54 after having swum slow prelims which was basically a warm up for them.

commonwombat

Kevin, nice try but sorry no sale ! She was 8.19 at NSW Titles this year leading into Trials, was that a precursor of a momentous drop in PB ? It wasn’t; in all honesty her time at Santa Clara was more indicative of her growing capacity to be quick in season, ala C1, Seebohm, Larkin, to an extent McKeon.

Regrettably her position in both 400 & 800 is such that she could swim PBs in both events and still finish off the podium. Realistically, she may need PBs in the order of 2sec or more to collect any medal. A very conceivable scenario but certainly no done deal.

Craig Lord

Massimiliano – I think most think that the race is tight but it is normal to think that a world champion who win that crown in a week of towering 400, 800 and 1500 efforts and had no 1500 to face in Rio is likely to excel and be even more formidable this year. Time will tell not long to wait … 🙂

Dan smith

I,m not sure ledecky was half rested for trials but time will tell and I don’t think there,s much of a difference between tapering and hard training for ledecky. Just my observation.

Also I think she went hard at trials. Especially in the 400 free. You could tell that she wanted to break that WR at trials from the way she was swimming but for some reason the faster she swam, the more spinny her strokes became. Her strokes were also shorter. I don’t think it was tiredness per say. She just looks different physically and also her stroke looks different from how it was as recently as January.

Also I believe Jessica ashwopd has severe scoliosis. Her spine is not aligned. So for someone with that condition to be the Australian record holder from the 400 free to the 1500 free is both remarkable and alarming. Where are the female Australian long distance swimmers who are more physically fortunate than ashwood? I,m really in awe of ashwood and I hope she doesn’t feel so much pain while swimming the 800 and 1500 frees.

commonwombat

Re 200fr; its certainly hasn’t played out “pre-event” according to the script many were expecting.

Ledecky HASN’T stamped her dominance on this event as she has in the longer events. Maybe she has more to give and CAN/WILL do so in Rio but it may also be the case that whilst she can/will win at World level at this distance; she may never be dominant.

As yet, the evidence is inconclusive either way. Then again, the “cases’ for her most prominent opponents is equally as inconclusive.

Sjostrom has a number of 1.54s to her name but this is the first “World level” meet where she has pursued the individual event.

Pellegrini is by far the most experienced contender but she has never again threatened her times from the suits era. She is, however, a formidable big time performer when she feels she’s in with a chance

McKeon is the “new girl on the block”. Her PBs in all her key events at AUS Trials hint at her obvious ability and she’s 2nd only to Sjostrom with regards to sprint speed. Conversely, she has yet to fully prove herself at the very top level and whilst the 3 others have not had to peak for National selection meets, she is in the position of having to “peak twice”.

aswimfan

CW,
Sarah swam 200 free in 2011 world champs, 2012 olympics and 2013 world champs.

aswimfan

And she finished fourth in all those meets.

commonwombat

Just one comment re McKeon’s 2.07 200fly. Nice time but really not particularly significant … except as a possible portent that she may pursue this at some point.

It wasn’t even a PB, she swam a faster time at Super Series in February ! Take it as a positive sign if you wish, certainly, …… but please don’t inflate it into some “sign from the heavens” either !

commonwombat

Point granted, ASF, although she missed the final in London. I probably should have rephrased that part, However, the 200fr has, in the past, been the event that has been frequently ‘de-prioritised’ in the past.

Eugene Chc

aswimfan, Ledecky semifinals and heats looked better than the finals.
I think coach Gemmel experimented with her stroke, and the result was not the best.
I still do not understand why they did not try to swim 100free with straight arm.

Craig Lord

Eugene – she’s not a sprinter and would no more be able to compete with Cate Campbell over two laps than Cate Campbell could compete with her over 8 (or more) laps. As for straight arm, I recall saying to Eddie Reese once, tongue in cheek, that I was off to the ocean to try out straight-arm freestyle… he replied ‘I hope the sharks get ya’. 🙂

aswimfan

Eugene,
Ledecky can afford to experiment with various strokes in 200 and beyond since her aerobic capacity is mindboggling. Even with such rushed strokes in the final, she still won it comfortably.
But 100 is too short for her to experiment with different strokes.

aswimfan

Klim, Sullivan with straight arm recovery didn’t last too long.
I wonder how long will Weitzeil’s shoulder will last.

Eugene Chc

aswimfan, her fastest last 50 was with straight arm -28.4 in 800 free 2015 WCH.
In 100 free her cureent stroke too ineffective.

commonwombat

Klim’s shoulder issues were at least partly due to also being a butterflyer. He still had a career of 3 Olympics as did Sullivan who’s hip issues were at least as problematic as his shoulders.

Not saying technique may not have been an integral issue but it certainly wasn’t the whole story with either.

Robbos

CW, you don’t know whether Mckeon peaked for the trials, as you have mentioned many times it’s McKeon & Barrett then daylight in Australia. Maybe she peaked only 100 free & fly & has been working on endurance since, see 2.07 butterfly in heavy training.

Robbos

ASF, McKeon also swam 1.54 after 3 rounds in the Australian trials.

McKeon, like Sjostrom has the speed, the easy speed, as her 2.07 in 200 butterfly, she is working on endurance to go with pace.

So the race will be interesting with Sjostrom & McKeon with speed & improving endurance & Ledecky & Pellegrini with endurance with improving speed.
I think it may be an error to dismiss McKeon in this 4 horse race.

commonwombat

Rob, I haven’t dismissed her at all. There are other potential “wildcards” in the race and all FOUR “leading” contenders have legitimate question marks; that’s what’s making this one of the more tantalising prospects.

Why is she more the wildcard of the four lead candidates ? Each of the other three have proven the capacity to deliver the big time result individually ( whether in this event or others) whereas she has yet to tick that box.

The McKeon/Barratt then daylight situation is certainly the current AUS state of play for this event but even up early this year, there certainly were other 1.56 performers. In any case, her PBs at both 100fr/100fly present a very strong prima facae case that she was fully tapered.

Robbos

CW, not saying she was not tapered, I was saying maybe she knew she could qualify without doing the endurance work & concentrate on the 2 100s, especially the 100 free, where she was up against the best swimmers in the world.

I didn’t question you about dismissing her, I questioned ASF.

aswimfan

Robbos,
Are you saying mckeon didn’t do specific 200 training or endurance work prior to trials?

Robbos

Nope, in answering to CW, who says that unlike the other 3 contenders, who has not peaked yet this year, Mckeon has to peak twice. There is a lot of double guessing here of what swimmers might or might not be doing. Pellegrini, swam a PB in the 100, so how do we know she wasn’t at her peak, Ledecky had to beat 2 world class swimmers to qualify for individual 200, how do we know she was untapered?
McKeon had to be at her best at trials to take on Campbell sisters in 100, but not in 200, she had some space between her & 3rd best Aussie swimmer. So I can double guess that maybe she was gearing her training towards the 100 more then 200.
Now that she is not in the individual 100, she is swimming 200 & considers it her best event, maybe she will cater her training towards the 200 more. Again I’m double guessing , just like those who says Ledecky, Sjostrom & Pellegrini have not peaked or untaper.

kevin roose

Commonwombat i am trying to sell you anythink i have an opioun that i beleive Jessica Ashford can silver in the 800 no its not a done deal but she has had a positive year and there is reason to be positive …
Aswimfan dont be such a smart arse comments like while not stop at siver is un called for and was not in my thought process…..

aswimfan

kevin,

Thank you for the personal insult. Remember that swimming is just a sport and entertainment.

Let me entertain you,
You implicitly suggested that Ashwood can go much faster in Rio than her Santa Clara swim because you added that “she was still in heavy training”.
So, if a 8:18 was done in heavy training, how much faster do you think she will swim in Rio?

Attila Riez

We will have a nice load of really exciting 200m events on the schedule.
On 800 free if Boglarka Kapas is brave enough to change gear well before of her usual half way switch (like she did that on 400 in London this year), she has a good chance to grab a minor medal. I think on 400 she still can cut another 1-2 sec from her most recent PB.
How about 4*200 minor medals? Do you think if a Hungarian Team with three 1:57 and one 1:56 (Verraszto/Kesely/Kapas/Hosszu) has a chance?

aswimfan

Attila,

Hungary can certainly final if they swim all their top four swimmers in the prelims.
And they are peaking at the right time when setting NR in London european champs.

But to go from finaling (which they failed to do in 2012) to medaling is a huge step.

Kesely and Kapas seem to be on the upward move, but Hosszu I doubt will go faster than 1:56 especially considering her tough program (200 fly final on the same night, 400/200IM, 100 back, 200 fly in the previous days).
Also, when was the last time Verraszto swam 1:57? certainly not in the past four years.

Hungary’s NR is 7:51.63 set last May in London. I am predicting that bronze will be won in no slower than 7:47.
To go from 7:51 to 7:47 is huge.

Attila Riez

Thank you aswimfan,
Yes, we do have doubts about that day. The question is if Hosszu will drop fly for bringing home the relay, where (fly) objectively she has not too much chance for medal, whilst the flip side of the coin is that it would be unfair towards Jakabos, whose strongest leg is fly, and now she is out of the programme.

commonwombat

Attila, I see Kapas as being very much ‘at the party’ in the 400 and certainly competitive in the 800, although most likely needing a significant pb.

HUN W4X200, tend to agree with ASF. They can certainly make the final & the bronze medal is certainly up for grabs (USA & CHN would appear to have solid hands on G&S). It would however require everyone to be absolutely flying and others to swim very poorly or a couple of teams “break”. Not impossible but unlikely.

kevin roose

Why would i let you entertain me Aswimfan????

aswimfan

Because I’m trying to rescue the discussion from your trolling.

commonwombat

Rob, the sheer scope of McKeon’s PBs at Trials are as sure a sign as any of full taper bar a full verbal confirmation from either herself or her coach.

As to the others:

– Sjostrom was essentially pre-selected by SWE with the sole requirements being proof of fitness plus a qualifying time at any of certain specified meets.

– Pellegrini merely had to post a qualifying time of 1.56.7 plus finish 1 or 2 at Italian Trials. Neither of which would require at full taper given her in season times.

– we may not know for certain what the tactics were of Team Ledecky but she was not in a position of requiring full taper to qualify for 400/800. Plus her in-season times for the 200 were in the range of 2sec ahead of any other American so her qualification situation for the 200 was fairly secure, if not at the level of certainty of the longer events. Certainly no other Americans were threatening anything better than 1.55s ….. and we didnt even see that

Robbos

CW, Pellegrini swam a PB in the 100, plus her 200 was the best time in 3-4 years.

Craig Lord

Her 200, Robbos, was a lifetime textile best behind 3 2009 swims…

aswimfan

As I have written previously, based on historical data, Pellegrini may not necessarily swim faster than her best times posted at seven hills.

commonwombat

Rob, nice try but no cigar !! LOL

That time was recent, at the 7 Hills Meet in Rome, rather than at the ITA National Meet which was some months back.

She may well have tapered for this meet but her circumstance is akin to that of the Americans who are either looking to hold their taper from Trials or a double taper rather than McKeon’s/most who had to peak for early Trials

massimiliano gallus

Fede was note tapered. she was in heavy training. She trained three weeks in Sierra Nevada before the meet. i think she and her coach are not liars

aswimfan

massimiliano,
I’m sure she was not tapered.
Thanks for the info that she had just came down from 3 weeks high altitude training. Now we know that’s the fast swimming was due to the coming down effects.

Robbos

Thanks Craig!!!

CW
Hmmm, Pellegrini swimming best times in textiles, Sjostrom & Ledecky swimmingly near enough to best times in the 200 this year. McKeon swimming PBs. Only McKeon has peaked, the others have not peaked, have not untapered. Now not saying this is not true, but how do you know for sure?????

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