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.

About YourSwimBook

YourSwimBook is a log book and goal setting guide designed specifically for competitive swimmers. It includes a ten month log book, comprehensive goal setting section, monthly evaluations to be filled out with your coach, and more.

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AB

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Iceage Swimmer
4 years ago

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!

Dan
Reply to  Iceage Swimmer
4 years ago

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.

SwimGeek
Reply to  Dan
4 years ago

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
Reply to  SwimGeek
4 years ago

That would be cool

Uberfan
Reply to  SwimGeek
4 years ago

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

CraigH
Reply to  Uberfan
4 years ago

Very specific

SwimGeek
Reply to  Dan
4 years ago

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.

Hswimmer
Reply to  SwimGeek
4 years ago

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

K Baker
4 years ago

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.

ERVINFORTHEWIN
Reply to  K Baker
4 years ago

totally right – it makes total sense

Just Another Opinion
4 years ago

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

ERVINFORTHEWIN
Reply to  Just Another Opinion
4 years ago

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

Sir Swimsalot
4 years ago

I have no words…

Atento
4 years ago

Its just stupid the US continue to swim in yards at NCAAs. The most important meets in this sport are in long course METERS. Personaly it would be way more interesting to see what she could do in short course METERS (because we all know what she can do in loung course). I mean nobody cares about swimming in yards. Its just a diferent sport. It makes no sense. If you wanna do short course at least do it in meters. Nobody really cares about yards. The best swimmers in The world won The best long course meters meets, and after that short course meter meets. There are several short course yards swimmers that were champions at the ncaa and… Read more »

Pmpolo
Reply to  Atento
4 years ago

And yet American college swimmers continue to win Olympic gold medals.
Because you don’t care doesn’t mean no one cares. American swimmers continue to have better turns and underwaters. Maybe a coincidence, probably not.

Hswimmer
Reply to  Pmpolo
4 years ago

Besides Missy (oops).

Michael
Reply to  Hswimmer
4 years ago

I’d say the missy of 2012 was a lot different than the missy of 2016 and I wouldn’t put that on yards training vs meter training. Invalid argument for this topic.

COSwim
Reply to  Michael
4 years ago

Missy 2012…Missy 2016…she’s never had good turns or underwaters.

Swimmy
Reply to  Hswimmer
4 years ago

Missy also still swam HS right before 2012 which is also SCY so that doesnt help your argument

PVSFree
Reply to  Atento
4 years ago

The American system is working. I wouldn’t change anything about it

Sir Swimsalot
Reply to  Atento
4 years ago

Yet U.S.A. dominates in swimming and in Rio a good portion of the squard were college swimmers.

Aussie crawl
Reply to  Atento
4 years ago

I concur

James Cline
Reply to  Atento
4 years ago

You guys loving your LCM suck at turns lol. Most of the innovation in swimming in the last 15 years evolved FROM the shorter pool especially underwater turns.

Michael Harrington
Reply to  Atento
4 years ago

I guess we could rebuild all the college pools to metric.

Cate
Reply to  Michael Harrington
4 years ago

$$$$$$$

Martinfamily
4 years ago

Oh. My. God.

swimswamswum
4 years ago

I actually gasped out loud at the 4 x 200 on 2:00 holding all under 1:50…and then going 1:47. Like…wat

Swim/Swam/Swum
Reply to  swimswamswum
4 years ago

I see I have some competition for the name…

Atento
4 years ago

Look guys I have no problem with american swimmers training in yards. Its just competing in yards that I have a problem with. Why not short course meters? That way we could compare with the all world. That way we could have world short course records (at least every time katy is swimming). That way with those kind of performances the sport could have more exposure. Look you guys tell me that most americans have better turns and underwarters and that is true. But remenber that 100y and 100m have both 3 turns. So no big problem there. In the 100m freestyle long course the real pain comes at about 80m into the race. In short course meters, the real… Read more »

NEWTOSWIMSWAM
Reply to  Atento
4 years ago

It shows your ignorance when you say most American pools are 50m, convertible to 25y & 25m with bulkheads. College pools with strong programs & $$, perhaps. Pools in American middle schools, high schools, community centers, health clubs are all 25y pools with a few exceptions. US’s dominance in swimming has a lot to do with our world class grass root system. The early training of our elite athletes takes place in yard pools. It would be financially impossible for us to convert all of our yard pools to meter pools. Some of our knowledgeable commenters here must know the approximate # of 25y pools in the US – my conservation guess would in the tens of thousands. Our system… Read more »

NEWTOSWIMSWAM
Reply to  NEWTOSWIMSWAM
4 years ago

…conservative guess…

Guido
Reply to  NEWTOSWIMSWAM
4 years ago

Hi there,

In the Netherlands and also in Europe we have this 25x25meter concept pools. This means you have 10 lanes of each 2,5 meters in both directions of the pool. I would think this concept for US would easily be converted to a 25mx25y concept where you could triain/workout in the yards direction and compete in the meter direction or vice versa. Additional perk is the great 10 lane pool feeling which makes every ever so small competition feel like a national of international event 😉

I’m so fortunate to be swimming in such a pool in the Alphen aan den Rijn ‘De Thermen 2’, nowadays as a master swimmer.

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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