Katie Ledecky Announces She’s Forgoing Final 2 Years of Eligibility to Turn Pro

“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.

In This Story

124
Leave a Reply

Subscribe
Notify of
124 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
BSD
3 years ago

Wow

200 SIDESTROKE B CUT
Reply to  BSD
3 years ago

Didn’t see that coming…

… nah, just kidding.

Bob Sommers
3 years ago

Seems about right. Good luck Katie!! I was trying to guess when this would happen and there it is. ATB!!!

Ervin
3 years ago

lol at all the people who said she wouldn’t

Ervin
3 years ago

lol at everyone who said she wouldn’t

Bob
3 years ago

Good for her! I still don’t know why the NCAA won’t allow athletes to make money off of their likeness, but that’s a whole nother issue☺️

Caeleb Dressel Will Win 9 Gold Medals in Tokyo
Reply to  Bob
3 years ago

I don’t like it.

Baker-King-Worrell-Manuel

Does she go back to Bruce Gemmell and take a couple of classes at Georgetown as was the case when she deferred a year entry into Stanford?

Swim-Fan
Reply to  Baker-King-Worrell-Manuel
3 years ago

The article states that she will remain at Stanford for school and training.

Baker-King-Worrell-Manuel
Reply to  Swim-Fan
3 years ago

Katie Ledecky may stay at Stanford for the duration of the current quarter but that does not mean she will continue training with Greg Meehan for the long haul.

Coach John
Reply to  Baker-King-Worrell-Manuel
3 years ago

read the article

Philip
Reply to  Bob
3 years ago

Or at least pay them.

STEPHEN WIERHAKE
Reply to  Bob
3 years ago

I agree. I don’t understand why the NCAA wouldn’t object to an athlete getting a summer job – say working as a lifeguard, or perhaps nabbing a paid internship in the corporate world, but earning money for one’s likeness – say on a box of Wheaties – is a no-no. Swimming in a meet with prize money is not what we’re talking about – it’s earning money in another endeavor due to one’s accomplishments. There are plenty of athletes like Katie that are very good students, and yes, because of their fame from athletic success, their chances of getting a nice paid internship (say, in finance) might increase, but that’s how the world works sometimes.

Kirk Nelson
Reply to  STEPHEN WIERHAKE
3 years ago

It’s obvious to me why they won’t allow athletes to make money from endorsements: it’s because the NCAA is greedy. The original mission of college athletics has been all but destroyed by the quest for the almighty dollar.

swimws
Reply to  STEPHEN WIERHAKE
3 years ago

NCAA athletes are allowed to have jobs and internships. This trend of saying athletes are not allowed to work is false.

Reply to  swimws
3 years ago

NCAA athletes are allowed to work, they’re just barred from using one of their most marketable skills. It’s like a business/entrepreneurship student being allowed to work during college, but not on a startup or anything that uses their business skills. Or a student with an engineering scholarship not being able to make money as a private algebra tutor on the side.

At this point, it reaches even further than that, as the NCAA wouldn’t allow a couple of Iowa swimmers to run a t-shirt printing business with their names attached to it: https://swimswam.com/ncaa-cracks-down-on-iowa-swimmers-tshirt-business/

Essentially, the NCAA currently has a setup where they provide athletes an opportunity to continue in their sport in a competitive, academically-adjacent environment,… Read more »

Aquajosh
3 years ago

To the surprise of no one, especially after the non-committal response she gave in post-NC interviews. Now is definitely the ideal time in the quad to do it.

Pvdh
3 years ago

Good. she trades the two least important years of her career for a great team experience. Now it’s time to get serious for 2019/2020

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

Read More »