She’s At It Again: Katie Ledecky Checks In With 4:01.81 Performance In 400 Freestyle

Katie Ledecky [Photo: Peter Bick]

Katie Ledecky churned out another impressive time in the 400 freestyle, winning the event on Friday night in 4:01.81

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Katie Ledecky churned out another impressive time in the 400 freestyle, winning the event on Friday night in 4:01.81

Comments

aswimfan

Judging by the expanding events (100/200 free, 200 fly, 400 IM) that she is trying to tackle, it’s very clear now that Ledecky has the ambition and audacity to become not only the greatest female distance swimmer ever but the greatest female swimmer ever.

Ledecky knows very well that to be considered as the greatest female swimmer ever, 400-800-1500 WRs and medals are not enough, not when swimmers like Janet Evans and Egerszegi won 400 IM olympics gold in addition to their core events, or that Gould ravaged 100/200/400/800/1500 free and 200 IM WRs.

Like Phelps before her who knew that freestyle success was needed in the consideration of GOAT title and tackled and succeeded in the 200 free, Ledecky also knows that major gold and/or WR in another event than 400/800/1500 is certainly needed to be considered in the conversation of GOAT.

Last year was a major step towards that direction when she finished 2nd in the end of year 200 free world ranking, just a fraction behind Sjostrom.
By breaking 1,500 WR twice last year, Ledecky became the first swimmer since 2001 to have broken a distance event WR twice in a calendar year.
In 2001 it was actually by a non-distance swimmer, Ian Thorpe (broke 800 WR twice). And you have to go all the way to 1978 for female swimmer when Tracy Wickham broke 800 WR twice. Or for 1500, you have to go all the way back to 1974 when 14 yo Jenny Turrall mauled and destroyed 1500 WRs four times (very unfortunate she suffered from injuries early 1976 which forced to retire later that year).

Janet Evans and Egerszegi had that 3 individual golds (1988 and 1992 respectively), and you can bet the whole farm that Ledecky will try her hardest to not only equal that but also exceed it. Gould’s 5 individual medals (3 golds, 3 WRs, 1 silver, 1 bronze) is maybe still outside her reach though.

Kazan is very exciting and special for the fact that I think we will potentially see for the first time a swimmer winning 4 individual freestyle golds in a major championships. Closest last time was Hackett in 2005 (3 golds and a silver).

Ledecky has that very rare combination of ultra talent, drive, competitiveness, discipline and grit. The same combination we found in Phelps.

Jay

While Ledecky has the goods and then some to crush anything 200 and over in freestyle, she cannot approach the versatility of Caulkins. TC held records in events as diverse as a 100 & 500 y free, 200 y back, 100-200 br and 200-400 IM mtr & y, 200 fly m. While she got screwed out of full Olympic glory in 80&84, she still sets the bar for versatility. Side note, you might want to consider shorter posts–for me, anything over a paragraph is too long.

aswimfan

Haha.. thanks for the suggestion Jay, will try to keep my posts short.

I agree that when it comes to versatility TC set the latest women’s standard that is yet to be equaled. But what do you mean by her getting screwed out of Olympics glory in 84?
She did swim in 84 LA, winning both IMs and 4×100 medley golds.

Yozhik

Aswimfan, your observations are so accurate most of the time and the excurses in the history of competitive swimming are so deep, and analyses you provide are so grounded that I won’t be surprised if Craig will invite you as Guest Author from time to time. The only problem would be that in such case you should reveal your real name, maybe 🙂 If you have what to say that would be interesting to many readers then don’t worry to make more than one paragraph length post. Keep on.

Bad Anon

while its noble for ledecky to contest the medley events, its doubtful she’ll win major hardware in view of the current depth in those events. just making the team at domestic level will be tough. Missy Franklin has greater IM potential than KL imo, because she’s a stroke specialist..

Yozhik

It would be interesting to know what she or her couches are thinking about other then freestyle races. Maybe she is getting too bored and such exercises are needed to keep her mentally excited 🙂 So far it reminds me Donald Trump’s racing for the president of the United States. Nobody believes it is serious so far, but it is lot of fun.

Yozhik

“great things are better seen when dust settles”
Sure the GOAT evaluation has many dimensions. But Katie Ledecky has added another one – dominance and record longevity. Look nine years ahead when she is still capable compete for the Olympic gold, each meet roster says: WR – Ledecky, OR-Ledecky, AR – Ledecky, etc. A terrible picture like from scary futuristic movie. And poor high school swimmers – the will never get a chance to get on the board. Her name will be remembered not only by statistics lovers but by many generations of swimmers, because reminders will be everywhere.

Ger

Who knows what further successes await this young lady. She has already achieved an incredible amount, so much so, that some even consider her the best distance freestyler we’ve seen. Further Olympic success would probably be required to support that view. What she did in London was stunning; her 400m in Barcelona was, from a purists viewpoint, the first sub 4 minute performance coming as it did, without the aid of a batman suit. It was outstanding. And you add to these all her other amazing swims. She could retire today and be remembered as one of the greats.

Yozhik

There is an opinion from different forums that Katie Ledecky is not that far from her life time bests now. She may go under 8:10 at her famous distance if she solves the problem of getting steady pace after 500m. She showed such an ability, but it was 1500 race and she managed to control the pace after 900 – 1000m only. But everything is surprising about Katie. Her world record was done with negative splits! She never did it again, but isn’t it a hint that there are some hidden resources still unrevealed yet?

easyspeed

Agree with “a swim fan” above except don’t think KL is going to focus on 400 IM yet; she first has to finish her destruction of all things freestyle. Also, ASF is correct we are witnessing the female version of Phelps with a somewhat similar trajectory (gradually branch out and take down WRs beyond her specialty). Similar to Phelps of the 2000s in another way: she swims fast in season and even faster rested, and gets it done when it matters.

Yozhik

1500m. Yes, she made relatively soft world records of Evans and Ziegler a rock hard one. So hard that if she doesn’t specifically focus on this distance it may become her lifetime best and an unreachable dream to others. Can she go faster? A good chances are that 15:25 is quite feasible. When it can happen I don’t know. She won’t do it for at least 2 years and she will be 20 then. On the other hand I am not convinced any more that she is at the top age level for long distance swimmer when best time can be shown. That her 2013-2014 season is a remake of Evans’ 1987-1988 firework that followed by complete dominance but without world records. Friis swam her best season when she was 25 years old, by actually beating old world record at 1500m and making hard time to Ledecky at 800m. Jazmin Carlin got 8:15(!) at age of 24. It makes me to think that contemporary training methodologies are becoming more and more decisive factor with achieving great swimming results. That natural genetic talents that flourish from 15 to 19 can be stabilized and improved with time.

roy

A side not. The truth about competing at the Olympics is winning a gold medal. Off course we have ads that tell us that sports is not about winning but about participating. Other ads tell us sports is not about winning but how you play the sport or the game. But we all know sports is all about winning. Nobody plays a sport to lose.

The essence of competing at the olympics is to win a gold medal not just a medal. This brings me to Katie ledecky,s competitors. If you know you are swimming for a minor medal then why participate. It,s like you know you are going to lose already before you participate but you still put in hours of training knowing that you are probably wasting your time for just a silver or a bronze. why not move to another area of life where you have a chance to be a winner.
It,s something I,ve always thought about.
The truth is that losing sucks. When I was a kid I stopped participating in sports(actually the only sport I really spent time on was football or soccer). I stopped participating because any time my team lost I used to feel really bad especially when my team had reached the knock out rounds. I think I stopped playing football(soccer) around the age of 15 but I still watch it from time to time.

Yozhik

The 400m is the distance that she will like the most and that will make her a real legend. I would expect her to go below 3:57 at Rio if the schedule would be nice to this race. The time that I will not see beaten. The most remarkable about it would not be time by itself but the distance to the next world best swimmer. It would be like a college swimmer competing at high school meet. All her four sub 4 min times were done with completely different splits that indicates to me that this distance is more about strategy than sprinter’s speed or long distance endurance by itself only. And because she is so flexible with experiments and is good on both sides of this equation I am sure she will find optimal strategy that will resulted in magnificent time someday.

Jay

aswimfan – I think I was too brief earlier. What I meant by “screwed” in 84 was that it was a boycotted games where the roid users weren’t there. While TC did have the top time in the world in the 400 IM, she won gold in the 200 but missed a head to head with Geweniger (sp?) who had the top time that year. But I read your post again and find it informative. Sorry for being cranky earlier.

Yozhik

200m. I would be glad if she sets all American record by beating Schmitt’s London unbelievable time. Will she find resources to do that, I don’t know. I don’t see now where it can come from. What keeps my hope alive is her joke made at Nationals last year that she is not as that stage when she will through up after race. Such dedications and readiness to get maximum from her gift makes people to believe that this person has no limits. And I see that maturity helps at short distances. She may got her best at 200m at her twenties.

roy

Yozhik she already has a magnificent time in the 400 free.
I may be wrong but I think she has reached her peak time wise. Someone once said that he expects her to go a sub 8:05 in the 800 free. I haven,t seen any indication of that but I do see a 8:10.
In the 400 free some people are talking of a 3:55. I don,t see that yet.

roy

Yozhik I,m not sure maturity helps at short distances because every swimmer is different and peak at different stages and different ages.

Yozhik

100m.
2011(14yo) – 56.85sec; 2012(15yo) – 56.77sec; 2013(16yo) – 56.00sec; 2014(17yo) – 54.96sec. 2015(17yo) – 54.55. Does anybody know the limit of this sequence?
She was 14th among American sprinters last year, and she is almost a second away from getting to the 4×100 relay at Rio. 4×100 relay is probably more her dream then an achievable goal with so many new talented sprinters entered the competition recently. But look how god damn serious other swimmers become when Ledecky shows up next on the deck, no matter what kind of race it would be.

Yozhik

Roy, you are most likely right about maturity, but can anybody explain me Sjostrom, Heemskerk, Hosszu effect. What all these girl do when they were 20?

roy

Yozhik I agree but the swimmers are not serious against ledecky in all races. I doubt that she,s scare a bullet train like cate Campbell or Sarah sjostrom in the 100 free. Her times in the 400IM will hardly scare katinka hosszu or ye shiwen.

roy

sjostrom, heemskerk and hosszu just happened to peak outside their teens. You can’t really use them to compete with all swimmers. Missy franklin was already swimming solid times in the 200 free in her teens.
Also sjostrom is different from heemskerk. Sjostrom is still young(not that heemskerk is old by the way). Sjostrom is 21 while heemskerk is 27, so while sjostrom peaked in the 200 free in her early 20,s heemskerk peaked in her late 20,s while franklin was swimming solid times in the 200 free in her teens. All three( sjostrom,heemskerk and franklin) developed differently.

roy

Third line mistake, compare with all swimmers not compete with all swimmers

Personal Best

If she is trying to branch out, then in this age where the competition has never been deeper, I don’t think she would attempt 5 individual solo events at one meet, especially since she is a distance swimmer who swims far more than most through the competition.

If she wants to add events, she might change her program later in her career; gold medals in the 800 and 400 free securely hers, she can then choose to target the IMs, or fly events or even sprint freestyle.

Yozhik

Roy if it indeed happens ( I don’t know how, though) that Ye Shewin and Katinka Hosszu will swim with Katie in the same final then be sure they will scare. I am not going to argue about the probability of such event. As her coach stated she is not a natural born swimmer and outside her freestyle races there is nothing spectacular and may not be ever be. That is why it is so interesting to know why those races are part of preparation for the WC. BTW we can see many of similar examples, like world class sprinters a racing at long distances.

Yozhik

Ger, it is so nice to see another person who also gets excited by witnessing a miracle 🙂

roy

Yozhik, katinka hosszu has already swum in a final of the 400IM a 2015 arena pro swimming meet this year in mesa.
Katinka was first with a time of 4:36:77 while ledecky was fifth with a time of 4:45:41 although she had the fastest freestyle split of 1:00:87. Hosszu swam a lot of events at that meet as usual. Ledecky swam the 200 to 1500 frees and the 400IM.
The 400IM swimmers and times were as follows
winner Katinka hosszu 4:36:77
second place Caitlin leverenz 4:40:29
Third place vien nguyen 4:42:60
Fourth place dirado 4:43:72
Fifth place Katie ledecky. 4:45:41
sixth place Elizabeth beisel who was recovering from injury 4:46:75
Seventh place Taylor ruck 4:52:28

roy

I meant katinka hosszu has already swam in a final of the 400IM against ledecky at an arena pro swimming meet in mesa this year.

Yozhik

Roy, I am taking my words back. Sorry for incompetence. Nobody can scare Iron Lady 🙂

Yozhik

Roy, Missy Franklin is not probably a good example when we discuss a maturity factor in sprinting. She is so unique and is a mystery to me. When she started I thought of her as sprinter. Now I am not certain about her specialty in swimming. Is she a short distance sprinter? No. Is she a long distance swimmer? Sure she is not. Is she a middle distance swimmer like Pelligrini, Mufat, Schmitt. No, 400 was too much for her so far. I guess that if it would be 150m distance where nobody would be equal to her. I think next couple months will show how she evolves and where her interest are.

aswimfan

Yozhik,

Thank you for your kind words but my english is so bad to write anything serious.

Your enthusiasm about Ledecky and how close you are following her reminds me of myself when I followed the swimming career of Thorpe from the time he qualified for 1997 Pan Pacs as a 14 yo.

And I think you are correct about Missy Franklin’s best distance being 150 m. Many (mostly americans) believe that her greatest record is 200y in 1:39. Many made mistake to convert that yard time into LCM time which arrives at some crazy time.
But in actuality, time-wise, 200 yard is closer to 150 meter rather than to 200 meter. As you said, Missy at 150 m would be unbeatable.
This also reminds me when Thorpe said that he reckoned his best distance was neither 200 nor 400, but 300.

beachmouse

Ledecky has frequently done any number of events for fun. She essentially ran her high school’s record board and holds every top time there except for 100 breast (SCY) and diving. I wouldn’t see her entries here as a sign that she’ll be trying to make an international team in the 200 fly any time soon, just that some variety on smaller meet days helps her stay engaged in the water.

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