This Is How Fast Katie Ledecky Swims in Practice

You already know that Katie Ledecky is the top female swimmer on the planet. That she’s really, really fast. And basically unbeatable. Now you’ll learn how fast she is in practice. 

If Katie Ledecky wasn’t a household name before the Rio Olympics, she certainly is now.

Between having Washington nationals superstar Bryce Harper rocking one of her caps during an NL East division clinching after-party, to destroying American Ninja Warrior Grant McCartney in a completely made up kicking game on Ellen, Ledecky’s name has become ubiquitous with the sport.

In a previous post we showcased some of Ledecky’s main sets and training during her preparation for the 2013 FINA World Championships, where she set world records in the 800m and 1500m freestyles. We’ve also covered how Ledecky used a log book to help power her pre-London training, as well as how you can mirror the same goal setting approach Ledecky uses.

The original training post was a popular one—and understandably so, the interest in seeing how the best in the world is something we all experience. We want to see the superhuman training and prep that our idols perform in order to show up at meet time and smash world records.

Katie Ledecky Swims Faster in Practice Than We All Do in Our Dreams

During the most recent ASCA conference, her coach Bruce Gemmell of Nation’s Capitol Aquatic Club, presented, including a couple slides that showed off some more of her recent training and results.

The swimming workouts below were done in the lead up to Olympic Trials, and display some of the speed that she would unleash on the 4x100m freestyle relay and the 200m freestyle.

Set #1

This set was performed in May 2016 and show off how remarkable Ledecky’s engine is:

12 x 200 short course yards

  • 4 @ 2:10 (avg 1:56’s)
  • 4 @ 2:05 (avg 1:52’s)
  • 4 @ 2:00 Her times: 1:48, 1:49, 1:48, 1:47.4

Set #2

The following set was completed in June of 2016, and completes the double-whammyness of endurance and top end speed that made her so unstoppable in Rio.

Note that there was no additional rest between the 200’s and 100’s and that it was also done in short course yards.

8 x 200 @2:20 (avg. 1:49.1)

8 x 100 @1:20 (avg. :52.1)

The Takeaway

Watching our idols swim, and make it look so darn easy, inspires dreams. It motivates us into wanting to be excellent, into wanting to test the mettle of our limits and achieve awesome stuff.

These sets, and the times she put down, should serve as a reminder that great performances come at the expense of having a great process. Of being willing to show up each day and deposit the hard work.

It’s no big secret what it takes to be successful in the water—all it takes is a big will.

Credit to the peeps at MySwimPro who were Johnny-on-the-Spot and took a pic of the sets at the conference.

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Iceage Swimmer

UNREAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was on a pretty successful Div 3 team 1979-1983, and as I remember, our best MALE swimmer, who rarely lost, had a best time of 1:47 in a 200 Free SCY!


I’m looking forward to seeing her swim short course at NCAAs this year. I have a feeling that she will swim times that would score points at the men’s meet, particularly in the 1650 and maybe the 500.


I’m a huge Ledecky fan, and she deserves every bit of praise that comes her way. Good case to say she’s the greatest female swimmer ever. Good case to say she’s the most dominant/versatile freestyler in history from either gender.

But . . . last year to score at men’s NCAAs it took a 4:16.7 and 14:52. She’s not doing those times in March. If she has the perfect meet, she might have a shot at a sub-15 min. 1650, which would be amazing (but it won’t help that it’s on the night of Day 3 and she will have already swum a LOT of races and relays).

Human Ambition

That would be cool


Agreed the men’s times are quite insane she’d have to drop ten seconds in her 500 and 22 in her mile to score on the men’s level. I can see a 4:23.54 from Katie and a 15:02.38 but anything faster is really hoping


Very specific


I should also say that I too am very much looking forward to seeing what she does at NCAAs. She hasn’t done a rested yards meet since Feb. 2015, when she went 4:26 and 1:41 at a local high school meet.


I can see a 4:23 and a 1:38

K Baker

Hmmm – would be interested to know what she does December – May. I get it as it relates to race pace training for the Olympics – but in order to hold these paces, it appears to me that she must be doing sets like this continuously throughout the season, perhaps on different intervals, more rest, etc. You simply can’t get the body to adapt to racing fast without preparing it during the season, which begs to challenge traditional coaching methods in place.


totally right – it makes total sense

Just Another Opinion

What an amazing (and inspiring) competitor – testing the limits of what is possible and always pushing for more.


Thats the expression of the warrior within – always pushing through limitations – i love that spirit too

About Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy has been involved in competitive swimming for most of his life. Starting off at the age of 6 he was thrown in the water at the local pool for swim lessons and since then has never wanted to get out. A nationally top ranked age grouper as both a …

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