Katie Ledecky Challenges Lilly King to Swim 400 IM…So She Does

IU Closed Invite

  • June 2-3, 2023
  • LCM
  • Bloomington, Indiana
  • Meet Mobile: “June 2023 IU Closed Invite”

Katie Ledecky and Lilly King are two of the greatest American swimmers of their generation. Both own multiple Olympic gold medals and World Records in their respective specialties. So at the Pro Swim Series stop in Fort Lauderdale in early March, when Ledecky challenged King, known for her competitive fire, to swim the 400 IM, King couldn’t say no.

King’s coach Ray Looze told SwimSwam that Ledecky challenged King to swim the 400 IM during the Pro Swim meet. There in Fort Lauderdale, Ledecky won the 400 IM in a 4:36.04. Ledecky’s best time in the event is a 4:35.77. Ledecky also is the former American Record holder in the SCY version of the event.

Looze said “Lilly kept talking smack that she could beat everybody and Katie said ‘why don’t you actually swim it for a change.'”

“Katie basically said ‘you talk a good game and now it’s time to put action into words,'” Looze said, paraphrasing the greatest female distance swimmer in history.

King accepted the challenge and competed in the event this weekend at her home pool in Bloomington, Indiana, swimming to a final time of 4:47.57 during a closed Invite. It was her first time swimming the event since 2018 when she swam her personal best of 4:46.49 at Pro Swim in Columbus.

Looze says she would have swum it at the next Pro Swim Series stop in Westmont, Illinois – but she wasn’t eligible, because she didn’t have the Pro Swim Series cut time. This was the first time King has competed in the event as a pro swimmer after graduating from Indiana in 2018.

If King had competed in the event at Westmont, based on Saturday’s time, she would have finished 4th. Leah Hayes won the event there in a 4:39.58, Anastasia Gorbenko was second in a 4:44.48, and Giulia Goerigk was third in a 4:45.72.

King’s time from today will allow her to compete in the event at Pro Swim Series stops in the future. The 2023 Pro Swim cut for the event was a 5:00.29. Cuts expire 24 months before the entry deadline, meaning that King could swim the event at any Pro Swim for the next two years.

The Indiana-hosted meet included athletes from Indiana University, Purdue, the University of Louisville, and the University of Kentucky.

King’s Splits in the 400 IM were:

Fly 1:03.52
Back 1:17.53
Breast 1:18.68
Free 1:07.84

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3 months ago

pretty impressive for someone that never swims the event

3 months ago

Based on Ledecky’s body language she was actually disappointed with not going under 4:36. It is a little bit curious why she is including consistently 400IM into her mid season meets. And most of the time the 400IM race comes in the double with some other event.
After RIO she tried to switch focus to IM events because it looked like another challenge to her. But just great endurance and excellent freestyle leg were not enough to be competitive in 400LCM. Another thing was 400IM SCY because the underwater and extra walls covered her deficiencies in other strokes.
He interest in 400IM LCM resurfaced in recent years with significant improvement in breaststroke leg that put her into respectful… Read more »

Old Swimmer
3 months ago

I can think of some other female swimmers (excellent in 200 IM) that should try 400 IM and I bet they would put up some very fast times

Sam M
3 months ago

The 400 IM is going to be the new elite swimmer fun event at pro series, love that

3 months ago

Greatest FEMALE distance swimmer in history? You sell Ledecky short!

3 months ago

This sums up King and Ledecky so perfectly. Also I had no idea Lilly King could do a 400 IM but this is awesome

swimswam fanatic
3 months ago

kinda cocky for king…. glad katie said something!

Reply to  swimswam fanatic
3 months ago

Apparently you haven’t been following King for the last decade or so….

Tea rex
3 months ago

Here’s a question that will unfortunately remain hypothetical:

Is there a distance at which Ledecky could beat King in breaststroke?

My gut says yes, but it would be somewhere over 3000 meters when King’s fast-twitch muscles give out

Reply to  Tea rex
3 months ago

I love this question.

Reply to  Braden Keith
3 months ago

Make it happen please? Maybe add Leah Smith to the challenge? Grimes as well?

Reply to  Tea rex
3 months ago

44-0 +/- reactions as I’m posting this!

Braden, is this the best comment ratio ever?

Reply to  Tea rex
3 months ago

I would agree but I don’t think it takes 3000 meters.

About Anya Pelshaw

Anya Pelshaw

Anya has been with SwimSwam since June 2021 as both a writer and social media coordinator. She was in attendance at the 2022 and 2023 Women's NCAA Championships writing and doing social media for SwimSwam. Currently, Anya is pursuing her B.A. in Economics and a minor in Government & Law at …

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