Former world record-holder Kate Ziegler to compete in Charlotte after two-year layoff

Former 1500 freestyle world record-holder Kate Ziegler will make her first competitive appearance in more than two years next week at the Arena Pro Swim Series meet in Charlotte.

Ziegler, a two-time American Olympian, is entered in the 100, 200 and 400 freestyles in Charlotte, which would be her first meet since February of 2013.

That’s a step down in yardage from Ziegler’s previous lineups. In the mid-2000s, she was a multi-time world champ in the 800 and 1500 freestyles, and she competed in the 400 and 800 frees at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 800 at the 2012 London Games.

But perhaps the finest swim of her career came mid-season in 2007. Swimming at Mission Viejo’s Swim Meet of Champions (now called the Fran Crippen Swim Meet of Champions), Ziegler shattered Janet Evans’ previously untouchable world record in the 1500 free, going 15:42.54. That record stood for 6 years until Katie Ledecky‘s rise to stardom.

Ziegler grew up swimming for The Fish in Virginia, and had a brief stint with the star-studded high-performance hub FAST in California before that group fell apart in 2012. Now, though, she’s resurfaced with Tennessee Aquatics, which is gaining its own reputation for elite distance swimming. She’ll represent Tennessee at the Charlotte meet, which kicks off next Thursday.

This would be Ziegler’s first appearance in USA Swimming competition since the 2013 Orlando stop of the tour, then called the “Grand Prix series.” Despite being a name swimming fans will remember from many years back, Ziegler is still just 26 years old.

Despite a highly-successful international career that netted her 15 major medals between Worlds and Pan Pacs, the one thing still missing from her trophy case is an Olympic medal of any kind. Making the U.S. Olympic team in distance races is tough, given that Ledecky has one of the two slots in each event all but nailed down, but judging by Ziegler’s lineup in Charlotte, she might have her eye on an 800 free relay slot, where the U.S. looks like heavy favorites to win gold.

She joins a number of high-profile 2008 and 2012 Olympians making career comebacks – also on that list are Katie Hoff and Michael Phelps.

You can find full Charlotte psych sheets here.

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samuel huntington

looks like it will be tough to make the US 4×200 relay – Ledecky, Franklin, Vreeland, Smith, Romano, Runge, Manuel, Ziegler, McLaughlin, others??




Um . . . how about defending Olympic champ and AR record holder who has been swimming pretty well the last year? Schmitty

samuel huntington

whoops forgot about her.

bobo gigi

Kate Ziegler swam her 200 free PB of 1.58.40 in 2007 at the top of her game. I don’t see how she could match that time again now. Anyway, you need to swim 1.57 low to make that relay. You can forget Megan Romano too. Was good in that event but it was in yards. Much different event in yards. TODAY, the best US line-up for the olympic final would be in my opinion Missy Franklin, Allison Schmitt, Simone Manuel, Katie Ledecky but Cierra Runge, Shannon Vreeland, Leah Smith and especially Katie McLaughlin are big contenders too. Unlike the men, the women’s 200 free has perhaps never looked as strong as now in the US history. SO MANY TALENTS AT… Read more »


I’m not convinced of Manuel’s commitment to the 200 free in LC yet. As you said, it’s a different event in SC, and training for it in SC seems to benefit the LC 100 free (eg: Adrian). It’s not easy to be your best at the 50, 100 AND 200 free at the same time anymore now that the 200 has basically become a sprint.

bobo gigi

I globally agree with you but I think she is a very special talent and can probably give the US relay a 1.56 split. She’s a great relay swimmer. She swam 1.58 last summer and has improved a lot since then at Stanford.
But will she swim that event at olympic trials? I don’t know. Personally I don’t think she will swim only the 50 and 100 free in Omaha.
Her focus is obviously on the 50 free and especially her best event, the 100 free, but why not also try a qualification in a relay which is almost a gold medal guarantee?
Anyway, training for the 200 free helps her 100 free too. Like Cameron McKevoy, Sarah Sjöström or Feemke Heemskerk.


If you ask me, the reason Kate Ziegler had difficulty winning a medal at the Olympics in 2012 was that our Trials were too close to the Games for her to prepare well for a 1500 at a mature age. Regardless of whether she makes the 2016 Team or not, I’m glad she’s giving it a try if she thinks she might someday regret NOT trying. Good luck Kate!


Ziegler was extremely sick at the 2012 London games. She never had a shot.


Kate Ziegler is the only one I can think of who had the bad luck to get sick at not one but two Olympics. Got the flu in ’12 and asthma attacks in ’08.


In ’12 it was a combination of asthma attacks and severe mental burnout. She admits she might not have been at her best even if the asthma didn’t flare up.


Sorry I got that reversed, I meant ’08 for asthma/burnout, ’12 for the flu.


Swimgeek and Liquidassets: Thanks for that information! I didn’t know that Ziegler was sick during either Olympiad.


Also the 1500 isn’t an event for the women at the Olympic Games. Zeigler swam the 800.


Ooooops! Sorry! 😉


I forget if it was 2008 or 2012 but I believe she had an illness during the one of the Olympic games

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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