She Did It Again: Katie Ledecky Registers World Record Of 8:06.68 in 800 Freestyle

Katie Ledecky shows her feelings after her world-record form [Photo: Peter Bick]
Katie Ledecky shows her feelings after her world-record form [Photo: Peter Bick]

Katie Ledecky capped a superb weekend by setting the 11th world record of her career with a clocking of 8:06.68 in the 800 freestyle.

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easyspeed

All hail The Queen!

Yozhik

It is to-o-o much for one meet. Why not to spread this excitement over two – three meets, so we can fully enjoy it for longer time.

BoetMate

Unbelievable (thanks Burt), incredible, scary, inspiring. Currently the most dominant athlete in her main events (400 to1500) from any sport. She is like a Bob Beamon except she does it at virtually every major meet when she sets the bar out of reach for her competition.

Roy, I have to disagree though. Her records will all eventually be broken (by another swimmer) although perhaps not in our lifetimes. Until then we will have the absolute pleasure of watching her break her own records.

I suppose the obvious question is; when will she peak and it doesn’t look like any time soon.

Robbos

What a swimmer!!!!!

Dave Nicholson

I feel as if non-fans of swimming are missing out here. They’re not truly appreciating what we’re witnessing: arguably the most dominant female athlete on the planet in their chosen discipline. Maybe the most dominant ATHLETE in the world, let alone female athlete. Serena Williams can be beaten. Lindsay Vonn can be beaten. Yuna Kim can be beaten. No one… NO ONE in the world is within a light year of Ledecky’s level at 400 or over right now. She’s arguably the world’s best at 200 right now and knocking on the door of being world class in the 100. And yet Ledecky wasn’t even mentioned in ESPN’s top female athlete poll. I’ll bet 90% of Americans don’t even know who she is. After the year she had, that’s absurd. This is someone who could plausibly win the 800 free Olympic Final by ten seconds. I want to grab people, sit them in front of a video of any Ledecky race and shout in their face “Behold! This is one of the few truly amazing things in this world right now! Bear witness!” This is frightening and strange of course, so I don’t. Anyway, for us few enlightened souls: it can’t last forever, enjoy it now.

Craig Lord

Because she has training to do, Yozhik – that’s the standard model 🙂

Yozhik

Ledecky calls 400m her favorite distance. She uses it as a base in practices to go from it to 200 and to 800. She have improved significantly everywhere from 1500 to 100 during last one and a half year, but not at 400. It looks like 400 surprise is long over due. 🙂

Craig Lord

Dave, for that you have swimming leaders to blame – this is a great athlete and a keen mind to go with it, too. She may not even be the female swimmer of the year for the world governing body – just like she wasn’t in 2014 (even though she was) – and the system that settles that is propped up by … USA Swimming. There is soooooo much more that the sport could do to lift swimming to a new level. They are not even getting close. And celebrating racing 16 events every meet at fair speed every other weekend etc is not the model that ought to be held up as something that is going top help swimming – it isn’t. There is plenty to suggest the sport is sliding backwards in terms of popular recognition of the athletes right now. That’s tragic. I don’t accept that the big-nation federations can only influence what happens at home. They should be doing much much much more to insist on wholesale shakeout and review of the system, structures and people who are holding swimming back. (p.s. and the job of promoting the athletes mean that FINA should not be handling anti-doping.. that should be removed and handled by independent process – with some changes to what currently happens).

aswimfan

Dave,

Part of what makes Ledecky less visible -at least to the American public- as she should have is because she chose to be an amateur swimmer.

That’s right, the dichotomy of “amateur” and “professional” swimmer only happens in the USA.

Especially in the USA, the holy land of capitalism and commercialism, when you shy away from commercial activities, then you would have limited visibility.

beachmouse

Dave, I’d put Ledecky and gymnast Simone Biles as Legends #1 and #1A based on 2015 results and if the American public had to guess, most of them would mix up Biles and Gabby Douglas. And I’m pretty sure Biles has some good endorsement deals lined up already at this point.

The only thing that matter to a lot of people when it comes to ‘Olympic Sports’ are the Olympics proper.

Dave Nicholson

“Holy land of commercialism”. Resorting to tired, mildly insulting cliches was a bit unnecessary to make your point, don’t you think?

Yozhik

Dave, it was so emotional and so resonated to my feelings. But it would be fair to ask Katie first if she wants 90% of Americans to know about her and if she feels underappreciated and undervalued. Ask her if she’s not satisfied with the recognition and public love and if she needs more. We are measuring other people with our standards that can be very easily not applicable to such unique phenomenon like Katie Ledecky.

Aswimfan your painting brush is too wide.

aswimfan

As I don’t follow gymnastics, I had to google Simone Biles.

And.. Woww.

And she is sponsored by Nike.

So can you now see how most American public wouldn’t have any clue about Ledecky when someone like me who followed some olympics sports religiously even had to google about Simone Biles, who is a professional athlete, by the way, and whose achievements are no less than Ledecky’s.

aswimfan

Dave,

I didn’t mean “holy land of commercialism” to be an insulting term. I seriously don’t understand why you think it is insulting?

Craig Lord

aswimfan… you may not have meant it like that but calling anything ‘holy’ unless it is indeed holy in the religious sense definitively leans towards the insulting and using it as a link word between US and commercialism will be read as a negative by many. It suggests ‘held up as an idol’ and ‘revered’. In some discussions that may well work. When we’re talking swimming, it works only as an insult 🙂

Craig Lord

No less than Ledecky’s is not quite true aswimfan: the ultimate prize in both swimming and gymnastics is Olympic gold. Ledecky has one, Biles does not.

aswimfan

Thanks Craig,

In order not to insult anyone, I will change my last paragraph to:

Especially in the USA where capitalism and commercialism activities are very well-regarded, when you shy away from commercial activities, then you would have limited visibility.

Craig Lord

🙂 aswimfan (I’m not in favour of pc but clarity is good)

aswimfan

CL,

I agree that Ledecky has one upped Simone Biles in the Olympics result (apparently Biles didn’t compete in London), but her results since 2012 has resembled Ledecky’s, especially in the last year.

I also agree with Yozhik that Ledecky may not want more public recognition. It does not seem to be in her personality. By going the route of NCAA, she also does not seek more commercial advantages beyond full college scholarships (which, in the case of Stanford may worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for 4 years) as her family seem to be quite wealthy.

But yeah, if Rio provides the same results for Ledecky as Kazan, 100% sure her visibility will increase exponentially, as Beachmouse wrote succinctly above:
“The only thing that matter to a lot of people when it comes to ‘Olympic Sports’ are the Olympics proper.”

clive rushton

Craig, you still denying my claim that she can go sub-8:00 in Rio?

Craig Lord

Yes, Clive, I am 🙂 I’ll give you a free gold membership if you’re right 🙂

KeithM

Beachmouse, I think Gwen Jorgensen’s performances in 2015 are comparable to Biles and Ledecky. As the lead up to Rio draws near I think KL will get a lot more publicity as the “it” swimmer of the US team. But unlike Phelps in Athens and Beijing it won’t be in the context of a gold medal count as it was with the Spitz chase. Most likely she is in line to compete for 5 medals, three individual and two relays. That in itself is not going to impress the casual 4 year hibernating American Olympic audience who have Michael’s 8 golds drummed into their heads. Bruce Gemmell is trying to harness the Shane Gould comparison but unless she crosses over into the IMs this summer it’s not really an apples for apples comparison. I just think the best thing is to focus not only on her freestyle range but her historical levels of dominance. But this is not the obvious sell for the audience that it was with Michael. Michael had a target.

Craig Lord

Quite so to all that, KeithM… and even dominance, history file is not exactly void of such things among American women – Meyer, Evans, for example, as I note in the analysis file. The swim audience will get it; the rest will understand she’s special for a couple of weeks this summer and a few may be persuaded to hop from one club to the other. The bigger issue is not Ledecky and US audiences but swimming and whether its doing the best it can to grow and improve its profile and audience reach. My view is: no, it isn’t.

Wez

@CliveRushton

Given that she has chopped off 6 seconds since originally breaking Becca Adlingtons WR, you would think ” whats a couple more seconds”. There are a lot of people that agree with you as well in that regard.

While it would be fascinating to see, we need to remember that her first 400 would have matched gold in Beijing, while her last 400 would have won bronze in the same race.

Her last 200 would have won a medal in moscow 1980. The splits tell a wonderful tale, but even if she could match the fastest Olympic winning time in history, and then do it again, she would come up at 8:02.90.

I think she will be around 8:05, if all goes well.

clive rushton

8:06 now, mid January. Olympics are mid-August. Seven months to find six seconds. Over 16 laps. O,375 seconds per lap in seven months that’s 0.05 per lap per month. Five one-hundredths of a second. Per month. In month one that’s a slightly different rounding of the shoulders during a push. In month two, it’s starting the kick a fraction earlier or a fraction later than now during thenunserwaters. In month three its a slightly faster upsweep on the last arm stroke going into a turn. In month four …. well, you get the picture. Five one-hundredths of a second. Try blinking. That takes three or four tenths. Tenths. You can fit eight of the five one-hundredths into the time of one blink. So, she has to get from one end of the pool to the other end sixteen times showing a combined improvement equal to two blinks. Of course it’s possible.

Craig Lord

Possible, of course, but not very likely, in my view Clive 🙂 All those improvements have been happening with every passing season for the past 4 (not to mention what went before, of course) – always room for tweak and gain but as we know, the faster you get, the less room for gains in leaps and bounds within the scope of a great career (Evans et al, etc) – 0.375 secs per lap for all those other swimmers gunning for Rio would be a fabulous achievement for the bulk of ’em… and most won’t get anywhere close to that. If we see an 8:05 gold in Rio, that will be sensational – but if we all expect 7:59, there may be a sense of disappointment that she somehow fell shy – that would be bonkers and rather sad – I’m happy to wait to see what she can do – and anything inside what she has done will be terrific; anything close to what she’s done will be excellent and beyond the rest by a good margin, as likely as not – that’s all worth celebrating.
Meanwhile, Ledecky won in 8:15 in 2012. Here’s the gain on the clock Games to Games since 1980: 4sec, 4.7sec, -5sec, -2sec, 8sec (a gain of .5sec on the pace of 3 Games back), plus 5sec; 10sec with the suits and would have been close to that anyhow, perhaps; and then plus 1sec and back to textile so might have been a bit more. So, a gain of 15sec plus 2012-2016 would certainly buck the trend…
Human limits and the never-ending need to prove there are none, as Shane Gould said in Lund this month, has led to ever greater excesses of extreme sport and contributed to the doping culture… she urged caution and the celebration of the race and the win – if that comes with pioneering pace, great bonus … if it comes with happiness, health, is part of a package of roundedness and personal improvement, better still … I’m with Shane on this 🙂 I’ll be writing more on this topic soon, courtesy of a couple of great talks by Prof John Hoberman in Lund.

Yozhik

Adlington – 8:14.10, Ledecky – 8:6.68 (interesting number). It is 7.42 sec difference. Ledecky went this road more than three years. She looks different now, she swims differently. It will be … to think that she can go through transformation of similar magnitude during next seven months. I also don’t find useful the argument of could she achieve in terms of medals should she swim in prehistoric time. Her splits by 400 or even by 200 are not much helpful neither. Think of what she has to do to finish at 8 min this way. Her first and last 50 should be at least 28 (remember Ye Shiwen?). It is hard but still acceptable to some degree. But then she has to swim middle 700 with the average pace of 30.28. It is about 1 sec beyond her comfortable zone, and about 0.4 faster her record pace at this distance. It may look as small numbers but it is actually huge. The level of tiredness increases exponentially whenever one moves away from cruise speed. Not linear, but exponentially. It is very similar when you get extra passenger in your car. It can be still ok if you have four of them, but when you get two more (that is not that much more compare to total weight of car) your car starts complaining.
The only thing that keeps me from rejecting 8 minutes idea completely is that we don’t know actually where she is now. 8:07 was swum at the end of very tough meet. 8:06 was swum untapered in the middle of January.
It is getting too close to this stupid barrier to call someone an idiot if he comes up with such idea.
Katie, please give us a break. Collect your medals, set 400 record get in love and enjoy Rio. You will be only 19. It the best time in the life to be happy. For all these years since London I got tired of your surprises and unpredictability.

commonwombat

I’m with Craig with regards to the breaking 8min business in Rio. She went into this meet off a block at altitude but at least partly rested in her own words.

She broke her WR, and no one should think of sneezing at that but it was 0.71sec sliced off not whole seconds let alone multiple seconds.

A further slice, tapered at Trials, could certainly be on the cards but neither is it any stone cold certainty. Her margin in the 400/800 is such that she could win these with comfort untapered with the thought of the taper being set for Rio however she does not necessarily have this luxury with the 200 therefore a taper for Trials would be most likely.

I feel too many are taking it as accepted fact that her WR run WILL run through to Rio when in fact we CANNOT know this for certain. The plain historical fact is that ALL such runs will inevitably have an end. In Ledecky’s case, the interest is whether it can/will extend that far.

Historically these generally run for around two years, maybe extending a little longer. Her’s started in 2013. We’re just going to have to see what eventuates, just as we will with everyone else.

If we are going to see any further drops then a 8.05 at Trials would be my most likely scenario. Seeing anything below 8.04 in Rio ……. possible of course but unlikely.

Dave Nicholson

I’m going with an 8:02 in Rio. You heard it here first.

Dave Nicholson

One other point: look at how high Ledecky is riding in the water these days. She’s really getting on plane. If she can get her start and turns working, I could see her breaking 53 in the hundred.

Yozhik

The problem, wombat, is that term ‘historically’ is not applicable whenever we analyzing Ledecky’s performance. We are dealing with something that requires special consideration. The standard statistical approach that is based on the notion that we are all homo sapiens and share with some small variations same features is not of much of help. I don’t imply that she is an alien, but this phenomenon requires special analysis. Sure historically collected knowledge about limits of human body is a great science, but it is not completed yet and is still under development. We have in recent years plenty of cases that doesn’t fit your historical model (Heemskirk, Hosszu, Pellegrini, you name it..)

Craig Lord

I have 4 8:02s in emails so far today, Dave – seems a popular number, as is 8:05 🙂

Craig Lord

All for different reasons, Yozhik, of course… and Madison to Meyer, Gould, Babashoff, Evans et al all required ‘special consideration’ in their day and what they achieved continues to a part of the pantheon of the exceptional… in that regard KL is not exceptional; she’s the latest wave of expectional 🙂

Yozhik

Yes, Craig it is very safe to exhibit some healthy scepticism and at the same time to give Ledecky some credit to keep up with general mood of great expectations set by Ledecky at this meet. Is it like in case with stock market? If it was up today then it will be up tomorrow as well.
Where those 8:02, 8:05, whatever come from. At least Dave is trying with some supporting idea “She’s really getting on plane”. What is yours?
The honest way is to say that we have no clue what she is capable of, and what to expect from her in Rio. Sure we can play these gambling games to entertain ourselves and those who are entering this site trying to find some professional opinion.
I am sorry Craig, that my hedgehog nature woke up again, but I cannot help myself when I see like people just playing with numbers pretending that they are possessing a deep knowledge that allow them to look specialists.

Yozhik

Haven’t you seen that she was almost crying finishing 800. She was very much out of breath after 200. She was emotionless after breaking 54 at 100. Do you see that like strong indications of planty resources left?

Craig Lord

They are not my guess, Yozhik, they come from others. I make no guesses; I see what she has done and think that is where she is at (and that’s amazing). The rest is pure speculation, as far as I’m concerned 🙂 KL went to one meet I recall and had a terrible time, for health reasons. Anything can happen, a cold on the days in Rio more likely than a sub-8min swim – and I say that in no way wishing her a cold – the best of all 8 finalists is what we want 🙂

My list of why she’s terrific I’ve written about, based on what I see (in the water and in attitude) and what I’m told (in the world we don’t see, training, lifestyle, etc).

Craig Lord

Yozhik, no. I saw a swimmer who’d worked very hard and was ready to swim fast. 4 of her best 8 800m swims are from ‘lesser’ meets – she has shown fast times on a few occasions like that… to do so in January marks a test at the start of a 7-month countdown to trials (some have 2 and 3 months to go to their trials), a good moment for a test of speed, seems to me… flying colours is what she passed with… next block of work ahead.

commonwombat

Yozhik, I don’t know how long your “terms of reference” go back. Mine may not go back as far as Craig’s but they are 40+ years.

Shane Gould was probably at the earliest extent but I’ve observed the East Germans, Caulkins, Meagher, Evans, Egerszeki through to the current batch and taken note of the time frames of their record runs. Look at the Men with Thorpe and Hackett and their “runs”. Even with Phelps’ extended career, his records have basically been in two distinct “blocs” of a couple of years.

In other words, Yozhik, I’m basing my point regarding ‘record runs’ and their duration off the historical records of the greats (of both genders) of the past 40 years.

I actually do have somewhat of an issue with this GOAT (Greatest of All Time) falafel. We cannot know what may transpire in the future and who (of either gender) may come along and rewrite records across the board in any particular stroke or maybe multiple events. Unless this world comes to an end in the next decade or so this will most certainly come to pass, much as some of us may look to deny it.

All any sportsman/erformer/artist can ever really strive to be is the best of their particular time (be it a short or long career). Some will set standards that transcend their particular time.

These are the Ledeckys, the Phelps, the Evans, the Thorpes, the Egerszegis, the Spitzs, the Frasers, the Madisons & the Duke Kahanamokus. To say who was the best is pointless given the differing conditions of their times; all we know is that they are/were the epochal performers of their time.

commonwombat

Sub53 for the 100free ?? Hhmm, by Rio or in Rio; then colour me sceptical ? A sub 53sec relay split quite plausible. Another drop perhaps to 53.50 or below, plausible.

IF she decides to continue post Rio and changes around her program with the 100 holding higher priority; then we may see the sub53sec but again, no certainty. She could very well decide to get out whilst on top and decide that college is for education rather than swimming. Those decisions are hers to make.

Craig Lord

Indeed, CW.

Yozhik

Thank you combat and Craig for not taking my comments personally and not taking offence. I unconditionally share Dave’s opinion stated at the beginning of this discussion that we are blessed to witness achievements of such extraordinary athletes like Usain Bolt, Tiger Woods, Michael Phelps etc. Katie Ledecky just after three years of her career sealed firmly already her place in this pantheon. To my opinion making unsupported predictions picturing her as some frick who is capable of doing some weird things only lessen the magnitude of her achievements and divaluate the hard training, dedication and love to this sport. As much as her records will stay for long while she will be praised for being an example of determination and working attitude already making her 18 year old girl a role model for her and next generation.

Craig Lord

Roy, all of that was said when Wickham came along, then Evans, then Manaudou and so on… women will continue to race 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1500… I see no loss of courage and determination in the ranks of women’s distance freestyle. I see a lot of praise and raising of bars. It will take time before the height of the bar no longer appears to be dizzying; it will take time for KL’s records to be broken (but they will be) … but live through such ‘never-again’ stuff we have done… and ‘never’ turned out to be about 20 years at the pointy end of things … a long time… but fall those old records did… and so will those being set today – all of them. Why, we may even see a women finish a WR 400IM swim in a 58.6 one day again – but that may take a while, too, and it will be a very long time before that kind of pace seeps down the ranks. We won’t see a 4min, 3:59 800 free in Rio, is my view.

aswimfan

Roy,
It is silly to say Ledecky’s WRs will last forever, even if for exaggeration. Someday, someone will break them, although maybe not for the near future.

As for going sub 8:00, remember that she went almost 8 seconds faster from her London time to the new WR, in 4 years, during the time when a female swimmer especially a distance one is expected to make huge improvement.
And now you expect Ledecky to swim another 7 seconds faster by Rio?
Which, in percentage terms, may be even bigger than her improvement from 2012 London to 2016 Austin.

Very unlikely. You are welcome to quote what I said if Ledecky swims sub 8:00.

The Olympics schedule is very nice for Ledecky’s 200/400/800/relays and even if she decides to swim individual 100 free.

Most notably, 400 free will come on the second day, so it is very likely that she will bring the 400 free WR down to 3:57 in Rio if she doesn’t break it first at the trials.

I also don’t think she will be fully tapered at the trials for 200 free. I mean, she swam 1:54.43 two days ago, which I don’t think will be bettered either by Schmitt or Franklin or any other US swimmer. She will be fully rested of course and maybe partially tapered.

aswimfan

Roy,

Zhang Lin split 3:46.79 – 3:45.33 for 7:32.12

The men’s 400 free WR was 3:40.08

And remember that Zhang Lin wore 100% rubbersuit.

Now, for Ledecky to swim similar relative splits (similar percentages from respective 400 free WRs) to those of Zhang Lin, she would swim:

4:05+/4:04+ for 8:09 or 8:10

Thefore, compare to men’s 400-800 WRs, Ledecky’s new 800 WR is already way faster.

Another explanation is that her 400 WR is due for another slashing. My bet is around 3:57low or 3:56high.
But, another reminder is that the Thorpe’s textile WR 3:40.08 is also due for rewriting after 14 years.

aswimfan

Roy,
No way in hell Paltrinieri split 3:42/3:42 or Yang in 3:41/3:41 in 800 free, considering that Paltrinieri’s 400 free PB is 3:48.41 and Yang’s 400 free PB is 3:40.14

aswimfan

“Her new 800 meters wr with 400 meter splits of 4:03/4:03 is like a man swimming the 800 meters free splitting 3:43/3:43. ”

Inaccurate.

Her 400 free WR is 3:58.37
Her 800 WR split is 4:03.22/4:03.46

So the difference between her 800 WR splits and 400 WR is around 5 seconds (or around 2.1% off the 400 WR).

Now, apply 2.1% to men’s 400 WR which is 3:40.07 will arrive at around 4.61 seconds.

This means that the equivalent men’s 800 WR comparable to Ledecky’s 800 WR would be around 3:44.8/3:45.2 to arrive at 7:30

Yes, as I said earlier, her 800 WR is definitely comparably faster than the men’s WR, but as I also said, Ledecky’s 400 WR is due for an upgrade. She set the 400 WR in 2014 Pan Pacs. Last year’s World championships schedule was not conducive to break 400 WR, but the Rio schedule will be perfect as it is her first individual event on the second day. My prediction is she will swim around 3:56high.

Also, this calculation becomes the basis of my conviction that she won’t get much faster than 8:06 in 800. Definitely not sub 8:00. I will be extremely surprised (as I did during her 800 WR in Kazan, by the way) if she breaks it by more than 2 seconds. She may not even break it anyway.

aswimfan

And don’t forget that men’s 800 is not an Olympics event and rarely swum.
I doubt Yang and any other men’s distance swimmers particularly train in 800.

Ian Thorpe swam 800 free twice in 2001 and broke the WR in both occasions.
I have no doubt that Sun Yang could very close to Zhang Lin’s WR if he trains specifically in it.
Yang is definitely capable of 3:46/3:47 for 7:33

Yozhik

Wombat, what does it exactly mean that Ledecky was partly rested? Where and when did she say so? If the link exist can you please post it.

aswimfan

Roy,

I’ll try to compare Ledecky’s 800 WR based on 400 splits with Janet Evans’ 800 WR of 8:16.22 that she swam in 1989 Pan Pacs.

The splits are: 4:07.92 – 4:08.30
At that time, her 400 WR was 4:03.85 that she swam in 1988 Seoul Olympics. This means that the difference between her 800 splits and 400 WR are between 4.07-4.45 seconds.
Which means around 1.7% compared to Ledecky which is around 2.1%.

Does this mean that Evans’ 800 WR was a better quality than her 400 WR (meaning she was a better 800 swimmer than 400, and indeed, her 800 WR lasted 5 years longer than her 400 WR, all textile) if we use Ledecky’s standard?

Or, if we use Evans’ standard, this means Ledecky’s 800 WR can still go significantly lower, especially if she lower her 400 WR further. If Ledecky set 400 Wr at 3:57flat, this means she could potentially split 4:01+/4:01+ for 8:02-8:03 if she can achieve Evans’ percentages.

Not quite sub 8:00, but it’s way faster than what I have predicted. I am still predicting around 8:04-8:05 or no more than 2 seconds faster than her current record.

aswimfan

Roy, I wrote the above before I saw your immediate previous comment. My comment above seems to support your 4:02/4:01 scenario 🙂

aswimfan

That Evans’ 800 splits are crazy. the slower split of 4:08.30 would have won 400 free gold in 1991 World Championships and easily won 400 free bronze in 1992 Olympics (the bronze was won in 4:11.22).

commonwombat

Yozhik, she stated at this meet that she has been rested. Also, the practice with her squad is that at the end of each “block” of training; they seek out some racing to have a gauge on “where they’re at”.

Craig Lord

What a turnaround in your prediction, roy, spectacular 🙂 Another of your not-so subtle passing references has been removed (take note and don’t repeat)

Craig Lord

Zhang’s shiny suit swim, boys and girls, is spectacularly off the chart – it is no basis for calculating anything, including the difference between apples and pears.

Craig Lord

Roy, the percentages associated with KL’s 800 swim pale by comparison to a 58.6 homecoming 100 free in a 400IM WR swim, so you don’t need to cross genders to find aberration. Trying to work out where a man’s world record should be in an non-Olympic event by considering the speed of women in an Olympic event is not the best of measuring sticks you could reach for. On that basis, you could easily get to ‘women are very weak over 1500m’, not KL is very strong, for example – and may other daft conclusions in between.

Yozhik

Thank you combat and Roy. So swimming 8:06 Ledecky was at the same physical conditions as she was at WC. Dispite she had two world record races at 1500 and a tough double prior 800 race that she finished with 8:07 she didn’t look that exhausted as it was in Austin. I thought initially that that was because of tapering. But if Ledecky was well rested before this meet then that is how improvement of 0.7 second feels like. If it is so then we have some idea of how much progress we can expect from Ledecky at this distance in the nearest future.

commonwombat

Yozhik, in no way did I state or infer that she was in the same physical condition that she would’ve been at Worlds where, presumably, she was full tapered. Merely that she was “rested” for this meet rather than in the “full work” mode that the overwhelming majority of other swimmers in Austin probably were.

What will happen at Trials; we will just have to wait and see. We cannot know where and to whom those eternal “interlopers”, Injury and Illness, may strike and what surprises may eventuate.

Further lowerings may well happen; they may not either; my view is that if they do occur they are far more likely to be “incremental” in nature rather than multiple seconds. I claim no infallibility so I could very well be proven wrong.

Craig Lord

No infallibility, CW – a status that pertains to all – but like you I err on the side of ‘incremental’ as the more likely outcome – and because uber-speculation about Beamonesque bounces plays down the enormity of where she has already got to and raises the ludicrous potential for ‘disappointment’ if she wins Olympic gold in, say, 8:06 and 9sec ahead of where she was at 15 four years ago.

DDias

Something very pertinent Craig mentioned: the risk of a cold in Rio.If you aren’t local, you have to keep in mind in August the weather change very fast.You can have the beginning of a week with over 40C and end with 20C(Max). The worst is high humidity with hot weather.You have the distinct sensation of being cooked alive.
About Ledecky: I think Ledecky can even don’t beat ANY records at Olympics.The gold score is more important than that.If she is clearly aiming 4x100free relay, I think she will sacrifice(a bit) her endurance for more speed in 100free and 200free.She could win 400 and 800free in 3:59 and 8:10 and try to be as fast as possible in 200free.I think her 200free blast her as favourite, but not a clear gold.

commonwombat

You raise a very valid issue, Mr Dias; that of health & the potential inroads illness may take on competitors. There has been plenty of publicity regarding the water pollution issues for sports like sailing. rowing, open water swimming but you are absolutely “on the money” with regards to the impacts of climate.

One hopes this is an issue that teams “advance parties” who have come to Rio for “test events” and to scout out venues have taken full note of. Its nearly 20 years since I last visited Rio but I can certainly remember the humidity !

Yozhik

🙂 I think that in case of Ledecky the worse surrounding conditions are the better it is. Her incredable 400 and 1500 records in Golden Coast in 2014 are good illustrations for this joke.

Pierre AGOGUE

28.84 at the last 50m of a 800m….and nobody to complain and being suspicious!!!!!!
What would we have heard if it had been done by a chinese girl or even Miss Hosszu!!!!
So, I’m not suspecting anything wrong about KL….but just be fair next time. Thank you.

Craig Lord

Pierre – chalk and cheese – and if you don’t know that, you haven’t given it enough thought (Adlington, Friis and others have all come home in 28 plus at some stage – fast but hardly unprecedented – Ye was 4sec on average faster than her elite word-class peers in an Olympic final over the last two laps on her way to gold in a WR inside shiny suits and more than 2sec faster than the next best ever in textile… and her last lap was as fast as that effort of Ledecky’s – and don’t even go there if you’re about to suggest you are looking at the same quality of freestyler with the same end-race stamina – as we’ve seen since London, that has not been a part of Ye’s story, far from it). The three swimmers in question have entirely different career files; very much so. Fairness is what we would like to see far more of in the elite pool, on a number of levels.

Yozhik

To all who dreams/believes in 8 min breakthrough. The desire to witness a miracle is a part of our human nature. To be honest we have to admit that Katie Ledecky is the only one among all these great names of contemporary swimmers who we can expect of giving us such satisfaction 🙂 I personally don’t care much if her record at 800m is 486.68 or 479.99 seconds, but Katie will make me feel extremely excited and joyful if in addition to 1500, 800, 400 unbeatable world records she puts on her belt another one at 200m freestyle. All these events (8min at 800 and 1:52.9 at 200) are of the same probability or to say better improbability to qualify them a dream. Good dreams, my dear fans of Ledecky.

gheko

Am I the only person not getting excited when Katie breaks another World Record, Its like we expect nothing less from her which is totally unfair, I would not be surprised if she swam 7.59 at some point whether that’s in Rio or not,It will be interesting to see if and when she stops getting faster!

Yozhik

No, gheko. You are not the only one. If to belive Dave Nicholson’s statistics there are millions people like you. At least 90% of Americans who don’t care about Ledecky at all. You should be proud of yourself 🙂 But your post is a little bit controversial. I see that you are also under this spell finding it miraculous to have so many years of unstoppable world record breaking and wondering if it ever ends 🙂

BoetMate

Roy, never is a really long time. Unless you are predicting the end of the world, KL’s records will all be broken. On the graph of human performance improvement every now and then there is a KL outlier but ultimately the curve catches up.

Regards your sun 8 prediction. To go from an 8:06 800 to an 8:00 is not a simple 1.2% speed improvement. The power required to push an object through the water is proportional to velocity cubed. So to achieve a 1.2% improvement in swim velocity KL would require an 8 times or 9.6% (1.2% X 8) improvement in power or energy expended over the course of the race.

Never impossible but when you are already at her level finding an additional 10% is a big ask over the next few months.

Yozhik

Roy, how much is it? I mean your savings. And for how long do you plan not to touch them? When offering the bet you have to provide some details. Otherwise it is bla-bla-bla. 😀

Craig Lord

roy, similar things were said said after Mary T, Janet E and even the GDR (indeed that in particular), so we assume you think we are living in an era deep in boredom and lacking in thrill, given we are so many years beyond the inevitable decline in popularity of the 200 fly, the 800 free and all other events. You stretch and repeat your point – and only for one swimmer, never others, some of whom are also steep curving. I’ve heard t said that Phelps’ success was ‘inevitable’ and that can certainly be something that leads to less popularity. In fact, he’s increased swimming popularity – and the ‘inevitable’ includes things like the sunrise, the birth of a child and the migration etc …. amazing stuff. It won’t be tomorrow but your life savings are at serious risk. Keep in mind, too, that the next 5 under 8:10 will each be thrilling in their own right, assuming fair play is at play in each case. Your other comment is gone – if you assume to know my mind and motive and call it wrong, that’s what will happen. Desist – and keep it that way if you want to stay here wobbling on about ‘never ever ever again’ etc

Yozhik

BoetMate, you gave very good general picture of what is happening with the moving object in the water, but your calculations are not quite accurate. We can of course look at swimmer as just a moving object but main progress in performance comes not from increase of raw power but from increasing the efficiency of his/her swimming technique that decrease drag and improves other elements like turns, dive, reaction time, etc. To make a swimmer 10% more powerful is not a problem. The problem is an optimal utilization of body resources. That is racing strategy. So the situation is not that dramatic and there is always a room for progress if a coach knows what he/she is doing.
But neither mine arguments nor yours reference to the laws of physics are not a news for Roy who sounds like educated and knowledgeable person in the field of competitive swimming. His argument that explains Ledecky’s wins and her records is very simple. She is American with the all following consequences. So don’t even try to persuade him with some logic. It doesn’t work.

BoetMate

Yozhik, I agree wholehearted that overall improvement in race time is a multi facetted approach with the combination of stroke technique, body position, diving/turns/streamline skills a significant proportion of improvement but as these skills are optimised, the ability of a swimmer to sustain a level of effort over a length of time (ie power output) becomes equally or more important.

A simple example is the fact sprinters with the best technique in the world cannot sustain an 800M race pace purely due to the fact that they cannot sustain the required power output (which is much lower than output during sprints) over the longer distance. Obviously in their case this is due to their muscle type resulting in lactic build-up and the natural governor that produces.
Anyway, enough amateur swim scientist from me.

While everyone is having a go I’ll toss my hat in the ring. My prediction for KL is 8:07 which may seem weird but reasons are:

She doesn’t seem to benefit a lot from a taper and she may not have the big altitude block benefit.
She also has trials just a month before Rio.
While she seems mentally invincible, she is human and there will be more pressure at your second Olympics with a potential 5 event program (if you include the W4X100Free).
Finally as many current and aspiring elite level 200/400/800 swimmers are hoping, she has to peak sometime.

Craig Lord

BoetMate – very reasonable thoughts.

Yozhik

1. It is a pleasure to read posts from the person like you, BoetMate. I strongly believe that scientific knowledge is worth to be spread in any form, including amateur one. In this regard kudos to swimvortex for making references to TED.
2. Even elite swimmer are using very little of what human body is capable of. Sport exercises are moving human body out of normal balance by triggering short running mechanism that is by its original nature is nothing else but a reaction on danger or aggression or mating contest. It is damaging to be in such state for long time and human body has very well designed control mainly via pain of not moving too far from normal physiological functioning. Suppressing this boundaries by special training or blocking it mentally (that what we call power of will) is what sport is all about. And that is where PED comes to the picture as a shortcut to achieve same goal. Sometimes it is very difficult to see difference between them and special training tricks. We have plenty of unutilized resources. Therefore I have no doubts that there will be a swimmer who will be able to release more unclaimed resources of her body then Ledecky does nowadays.
3. The example with sprinters is not a very good one. That is completely different contest of releasing as much energy as possible in the very short period of time using basically short term first level response resources accumulated in muscles. Their technique is perfect only within very narrow range of high speeds. Whenever you try to swim with fins you will feel that your hands do not help but actually slow you down. So another technique is required to make your hands useful. Therefore sprinters look very similar physically and by their strokes. Ledecky is not like them at all and her leap into the area of first class sprinters is the most unexpected and shocking of what was shown by her at this meet. ThereaLuigi noticed that she is not the only one who swim this way mentioning for instance Jason Lezak. Yes some resemblance can be found but just very little some. There practically no sliding phase in her style.
4. Regarding Rio predictions for Ledecky. The only thing that I am certain of is that all her individual races will end up with Olympic records.
This discussion is getting too long and I hope that swimvortex will start dedicated thread someday where experts with more experience than mine will discuss professionally techniques, styles, strategies of best swimmers in history and where the current generation of swimmers are now with that.

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