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.