Katie Grimes

View Current photo via Courtesy of Jack Spitser

Katie Grimes is a 2021 Olympian in the 800 freestyle and world championships silver medalist in the 1500 freestyle. She made the Olympics by finishing 2nd in the 800 free behind Katie Ledecky at just 15-years-old.

National/International Competition

2021 Olympic Trials

In Omaha, Katie Grimes started her schedule with the 400 IM, the event her coaches thought would be her best shot to make the Olympic team, even though she was just 15. She ended up getting nervous and adding to her seed time, posting a 4:46.15 to place 16th and miss out on the final. The next day, in the 400 free, Grimes bounced back, swimming a 4:13.09 in the 400 free and placing 13th.

Grimes’ hard work really came through in the 1500 prelims when she posted a PB of 16:07.33, dropping 25 seconds to head into the final seeded 6th. She blasted that time out of the water in finals, touching at 15:52.12 for 3rd behind Katie Ledecky and Grimes’ teammate, Erica Sullivan. Notably, Grimes came home in 4:11 in that 1500, giving her coaches a good indicator for the 800 free.

In the 800 free, Grimes snuck into the final with an 8:31.73, placing 8th in prelims. At finals, she attacked it similarly to her 1500, and down the stretch of the last 50 passed Haley Anderson to touch for 2nd in 8:20.36, once again splitting 4:11 on her final 400. This qualified her for the 2021 Olympic Games.

2020 Olympic Games

At her first Olympics, Grimes advanced to the final in her lone event, the 800 freestyle. In prelims, she touched at 8:17.05, giving her the 2nd seed behind teammate Katie Ledecky. In the final, she ended up placing 4th, touching in a time of 8:19.38.

2022 World Championship Trials

Grimes went through a similar set of circumstances in Greensboro as she had in Omaha a year prior. In her first event, the 800 free, she placed 4th overall in a time of 8:22.76, missing her first opportunity to re-gain a spot on Team USA. She qualified for the final of the 200 freestyle the next day, an event where the top 6 are typically taken, but she placed 8th with A 1:58.22. On the 3rd day of the meet, Grimes won the 400 IM, touching in a huge PB of 4:36.17, qualifying her for her first LCM world champs. She went on to place 4th in the 400 free final on day 4 (4:06.67), and rounded out the meet by adding another individual event to her schedule, placing 2nd. In the 1500 free to Ledecky in 15:51.36.

2022 World Championships

Grimes started her worlds off strong, qualifying for the 1500 final on day 2. In the final on day 3, Grimes swam a strategic race, finishing strong to place 2nd behind her teammate, Katie Ledecky, earning silver and marking her first international medal.

On the final day of the meet, Grimes had her 2nd individual event, the 400 IM. She battled with Summer McIntosh the whole race, ultimately touching 2nd at 4:32.67, just over half a second behind McIntosh, earning another silver medal. This swim also broke Elizabeth Beisel’s 15-16 US national age group record in the event, which had stood since 2008.

2023 U.S. International Team Trials (Indianapolis, Indiana)

After a disappointing 5th in the 800 free, Grimes and Leah Hayes battled it out in the second circle-seeded heat of the 400 IM. They were even after the butterfly leg, and Grimess took over on backstroke. Hayes regained the lead on breast, but Grimes once again dominated freestyle and took the win in a time of 4:39.71. Grimes captured the 2nd seed, 1.87 seconds behind Alex Walsh’s big drop.

In the final of the 400 IM, Grimes was out quickly with a 1:00.40 ahead of Walsh. Grimes only built her lead over the field through backstroke as Walsh pulled clearly into 2nd. Grimes needed all the lead she could as Walsh ate up nearly 2 seconds over the first 50 of breaststroke. Into the final 100, Grimes trailed Walsh by almost 2 seconds but in the final turn they were essentially tied. Grimes powered home to take the win while Walsh came through in 2nd. Grimes posted a 4:33.80 to Walsh’s 4:35.46.

2023 World Aquatics Championships (Fukuoka, Japan)

Grimes started her meet not in the pool but in the open water events. In the 10k, Grimes led for the first four laps before reaching the wall in 2:02:42.30, edging defending world champion Sharon van Rouwendaal (2:02:42.40) of the Netherlands and reigning Olympic gold medalist Ana Marcela Cunha (2:02:42.50) of Brazil in a photo finish for the bronze medal — and the last qualifying berth for the Paris 2024 Olympics. In the process, Grimes became the first American athlete in any sport to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics and just the fourth American woman ever to qualify for the Olympic 10km. Ahead of her was Leonie Beck (2:02:34.00) and Chelsea Gubecka (2:02:38.10). 

In the 1500, grimes was a dreadful 16:04.21 for 8th in the 1500. She cruised through the 400 IM prelims with a 4:38.29. In the 400 IM final, Grimes was in 2nd for most of the first half of the race, got passed by Jenna Forrester on the breast leg, and then rallied on the free leg to beat the Australian by nearly a second (4:32.30).

International Medals

Place Event Year Meet
Silver 1500 Free 2022 World Championships
Silver 400 I.M. 2022 World Championships

Best Times

Course Event Time Date Meet
lcm 400 Free 4:06.67 04/29/22 2022 World Championship Trials
Greensboro, North Carolina
lcm 800 Free 8:17.05 07/29/21 2020 Olympic Games
Tokyo, Japan
lcm 1500 Free 15:44.89 06/20/22 2022 World Championships
Budapest, Hungary
lcm 400 IM 4:32.67 06/26/22 2022 World Championships
Budapest, Hungary
scy 200 Free 1:43.83 12/09/22 2022 Winter Jr Championships - West
Austin, Texas
scy 500 Free 4:29.53 12/08/22 2022 Winter Jr Championships - West
Austin, Texas
scy 1000 Free 9:25.58 10/22/21 2021 CA SAND Pumpkin Invite
Las Vegas, Nevada
scy 1650 Free 15:26.17 12/10/22 2022 Winter Jr Championships - West
Austin, Texas
scy 200 Back 1:51.46 08/28/22 2022 CA Desert Invitational
Las Vegas, Nevada
scy 200 IM 1:56.67 12/09/21 2021 Winter Junior Championships - West
Austin, Texas
scy 400 IM 3:57.02 12/09/22 2022 Winter Jr Championships - West
Austin, Texas
scm 1500 Free 15:42.05 11/04/22 2022 World Cup
Indianapolis, Indiana
Katie Ledecky Katie Grimes (photo: Jack Spitser) Katie Grimes (photo: Jack Spitser) Katie Ledecky Katie Grimes (photo: Jack Spitser) Katie Grimes (photo: Jack Spitser) Katie Grimes (photo: Jack Spitser) Katie Grimes (photo: Jack Spitser) Sandpipers Erica Sullivan Katie Grimes Bells Sims Ron Aitken (photo: Jack Spitser)