Blueseventy Swim of the Week: It’s Ledecky, But Not The Swim You Think

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Disclaimer: BlueSeventy Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The BlueSeventy Swim is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.

In this week’s Blueseventy Swim of the Week, we take a closer look at Katie Ledecky‘s ground-breaking swim that could ultimately reconfigure Team USA’s entire freestyle lineup for Rio.

We know what you’re thinking: “But SwimSwam, Ledecky was already entrenched as the world’s best 800 freestyler before she smashed that world record last weekend. That won’t change the American Olympic lineup a bit!” That’s because the swim we’re focusing in on isn’t Ledecky’s longest swim from the Arena Pro Swim at Austin – it’s her shortest one.

Lost in the earth-shattering dominance that was her 800 free was Ledecky’s 100 free from night 1, an event where she hit a new lifetime-best at 53.75 in taking second place overall. And while Ledecky is considered as close to a lock as there is in the 400 and 800 frees, this swim suggests she might be able to expand her Olympic lineup even further.

Ledecky’s 53.75 has worldwide significance. Firstly, it means she has perhaps a better-than-expected shot to make the American 4×100 free relay for Rio as a prelims swimmer or even one of the four finalists. Compare to last year: Ledecky’s time in Austin would have ranked her at #10 in the world over last season, behind only one American – Missy Franklin.

2014-2015 LCM Women 100 Free

2Femke
HEEMSKERK
NED52.6904/04
2Cate
CAMPBELL
AUS52.6904/08
4Sarah
SJOSTROM
SWE52.7008/07
5Ranomi
KROMOWIDJOJO
NED53.1708/07
6Emma
McKEON
AUS53.3205/23
7Melanie
WRIGHT
AUS53.5004/08
8Brittany
ELMSLIE
AUS53.6604/08
9Missy
FRANKLIN
USA53.6808/02
10Siobhan-Marie
O'CONNOR
GBR53.8104/14
View Top 26»

That time is also faster than any American went in the individual 100 free final at the Kazan World Championships, beating out Franklin and Simone Manuel.

Though it’s still a longshot at this point, there’s been talk that Ledecky could even be in the mix to anchor the 4×100 medley relay. Helping her cause is that two of the top 100 freestylers – Franklin and Natalie Coughlin – may be the backstrokers on the relay in prelims and finals. A prelims swim would basically just be a potential extra medal grab for Ledecky, but if she continues her rapid improvement curve, she could actually be a finals boost to the American relay that lost the bronze medal in Kazan when Australia ran them down over the final 100 meters.

The other major positive for Team USA about Ledecky’s 100 free is that the nation’s top young female talent is really starting to concentrate around the relay-distance freestyle events. Already, the top American 100 freestylers are the 20-year-old Missy Franklin, 19-year-old Simone Manuel19-year-old Abbey Weitzeilthe 20-year-old Lia Neal and now the 18-year-old Katie Ledecky.

Even Margo Geer (23) is far from old, making the current crop of US sprinters a young nucleus that could – if they all continue to develop through their 20s – be world-level factors for the next two, even three Olympics, plus every World Championship in between.

About blueseventy

Aptly named to suggest 70% of the earth is covered in water, blueseventy is the world leader in the pool, triathlon and open water wetsuits and swimskins. Since 1993, we design, test, refine and craft products using superior materials and revolutionary details that equate to comfort, freedom from restriction and ultimately a competitive advantage in the water. blueseventy products have instilled confidence in beginners as well as carried world-class athletes to countless Olympic and World victories.

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Uberfan

Crazy to think she could medal in 6 events 200 free, 4×200 free, 400, 800, 4×100 free and maybe 4×100 medley

SwimGeek

And six FREE events at that. That’s unbelievable! Schmitty wasn’t too far off this in 2012 — She swam all 3 relays plus the 200/400.

But wait, there’s more: With her 53.7 January swim, and based on what the American sprinters did in 2015 . . . Ledecky *could* conceivably swim an individual 100 free, which (if she did all 3 relays) would give her seven swims. I don’t think she wants to swim the indv. 100 free (virtually no medal chance), and with her schedule, she’s going to be plenty busy. So I’m not suggesting that it will happen — but it’s no longer absurd to consider it.

anonymoose

no medal chance in the 100 free? yes it totally looks like it, but i dont know it would be so weird to see ledecky in an international competition final and not win, let alone medal. in fact, i guess that actually never happened at ogs or worlds since she won the 800 in london. who knows maybe she’ll swim 53.2 at trials, swims it indv. in rio and blasts a 52.8 in the final and gets third. sure, someone of the c sisters or sjoström would have to have a bad swim but still. to be honest, in kazan, i would have never thoght she’d win the 200, not even that she’d get a medal prior to her advaning… Read more »

beachmouse

The women’s 100 free sometimes throws up weird results at the elite level. Remember World Champion Hanna-Maria Seppala, who stepped up and had the swim of her life when 5-6 women who were’ always’ faster than her collectively got the vapors in the ready room.

mcgillrocks

Don Schollander would have done it in 1964. At just 18 he claimed four golds in the 100 and 400, plus the medley relay and 800 free relay. Had the 200, his speciality, been on the program, he would have won it. Had he been put on the medley, that would have also been his gold, but for some reason the US coaches declined to make the anchor the Olympic champion in the 100 free.

As it stands, he was the first male swimmer to be the AP Athlete of the year for his performances.

GI

I predicted Ledecky be 54 flat(she was 54.55) at Austin to have a hope for the relay spot.
Now she is 53.75.
She just need to stable her time around 53.5-54.0, easy earn a relay spot.
If she can go under 53.5 and maintain it……she might be anchor for all three relay.

Sean

Yes, this Olympics it seems very unlikely (though it is Ledecky so it would be dumb to say impossible as she just doesn’t know what that word means) she could medal in the 100. But give her 4 years…Who would you trust to drop the required time to get gold in 4 years, she dropped almost a second this year, over a second last year, over a second the year before. Do you really believe that this girl couldn’t drop 1.5-2 seconds in 4 more years and be in contention for a gold? It might be quite possible for her to match Spitz’s 7 golds:
4 x 100 Free
4 x 200 Free
4 x 100 Medley
100
200
400
800

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson just can’t stay away from the pool. A competitive career of almost two decades wasn’t enough for this Minnesotan, who continues to get his daily chlorine fix. A lifelong lover of writing, Jared now combines the two passions as Senior Reporter for SwimSwam.com, covering swimming at every level. He’s an …

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