“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to train and swim collegiately for two years alongside some of the greatest women swimmers of this generation—swimmers who are not just great athletes, but great people as well,” Ledecky said. “I am equally excited about the opportunities and challenges ahead as I continue to compete internationally and further my education.”
Katie Ledecky has announced she is turning pro, forgoing her final two years of NCAA eligibility with Stanford. The Bethesda, Maryland native tore up the NCAA during her two years on The Farm, winning 8 national titles and leaving behind NCAA records in the 500 free, 1000 free, 1650 free, 400 free relay, and 800 free relay. As a collegian, she broke American records 11 times, NCAA records 15 times and NCAA meet records six times.
Ledecky made the announcement while speaking at the National Press Club in an interview that was broadcast live on C-SPAN 2. She said she will continue to take classes at Stanford and train with her Cardinal teammates but that her collegiate swimming career was over.
“I’ve had two really great years of college swimming, have been on an incredible team that’s won back-to-back national championships” she said in an interview with The Washington Post. “I feel like now is the right time for me to be making this transition and starting this next chapter.”
Ledecky’s timing makes perfect sense. The five-time Olympic gold medalist and the holder of multiple world records will now be able to focus her attention on preparing for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. She will no longer be constrained by NCAA rules dictating how much time she can spend in the pool, nor when she can work with coaches. She will also be free to concentrate on long-course meters training. Finally, Ledecky will be able to devise a competition schedule that fully supports her quest for Olympic gold in 2020.
The Post reported that Ledecky’s coach at Stanford, the Paul A. Violich Director of Women’s Swimming Greg Meehan, said in a telephone interview that turning pro at the midpoint of the Olympic cycle will give her time to adjust to life as a professional athlete. Meehan told The Post, “I think it takes a little bit of time to learn how to be a professional athlete and I don’t think the Olympic year is the time to do that. She can make the transition now, use the 2018-19 year as a transitional year and figure out how to operate day-to-day and week to week. Then we’ll get to summer of ‘19 through summer of 2020 and things will be in place and she can just do what she needs to do.”
In Stanford’s official press release, he added, “We are really excited for Katie as she moves on to the next stage of her career as a professional athlete. This is the right time for this transition, and we are thrilled she will continue her training at Stanford. Over the past two years, Katie has achieved unprecedented levels of success in the pool, but it’s her impact on our program as a whole which we will remember most. Katie brought a new level of training to our team, and helped the distance group become the most formidable in the country. I am most proud of Katie for embracing what it means to be a great teammate and a true student-athlete.”
With this announcement, she’ll join Stanford teammate Simone Manuel in going professional prior to exhausting her NCAA eligibility, just as former Cal swimmer Missy Franklin did in 2015.
Ledecky also announced that she’s declaring her major as psychology with a minor in Political Science.
Thanks @stanfordwswim! Excited for the future. pic.twitter.com/seMW4V9Gd1
— Katie Ledecky (@katieledecky) March 26, 2018