5-time Olympic champion Katie Ledecky will swim only freestyle races at the 2018 U.S. National Championships. The release of the psych sheets today revealed that she currently has entries in the 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1500 freestyles, but no 400 IM.
Like her superstar counterpart on the American men’s team Caeleb Dressel, Ledecky showed during the college season that she has more versatility, at least in yards, than she’s shown in international competition. Unlike Dressel, however, Ledecky has chosen to not tempt her fans with an entry in a non-freestyle event at next week’s big meet.
Ledecky dropped the 200 free from her Pac-12s and NCAA schedule in 2018, after tying for 1st in the race at NCAAs as a freshman in 2017. She instead swam the 400 yard IM at both meets. At the Pac-12 Championships, Ledecky swam a 3:56.53, which slid .01 under Katinka Hosszu’s old mark as the fastest time ever done in the race.
Ledecky swam the race again at NCAAs, but added time and wound up in 3:58.29 – three-and-a-half seconds behind her Stanford teammate Ella Eastin.
Ledecky’s best time in the 400 IM in long course is a 4:37.93, which would make her the 3rd seed if she were entered.
Ledecky swam the race (in 4:38.8) in her best long course meet of the summer – the TYR Pro Swim Series stop in Indianapolis. That’s the same meet where she broke the World Record in the 1500 free. She also swam the race in Santa Clara, but was just 4:41.54 there.
There’s no guarantees that Ledecky will swim all 5 races in which she’s entered – she’s skipped the 1500, for example, at past Trials meets, knowing that she could add it at Worlds. In 2018, once swimmers qualify for the Pan Pacs team, they can add additional events that they didn’t directly qualify for to their schedule.
The biggest pressure for her will be in the 100 free. It’s unlikely that she’d swim that race individually at Pan Pacs (she probably doesn’t have the speed to medal in it internationally), but she’ll need to be top 4 to swim on the 400 free relay at Pan Pacs – a task that has gotten much more difficult since the 2016 Olympics thanks to the improvements in Simone Manuel and Mallory Comerford, plus the rise of swimmers like Margo Geer in long course. Ledecky is only the 8th seed in that race.
That race comes on day 1 of the meet, where Ledecky is also entered in the 800 free. That makes it reasonable to expect that Ledecky won’t swim the 800 at Nationals: an event where she’s the owner of the 18 fastest performances in the history of the event.
Potential Ledecky Schedule (With Prelims Time):
- 100 free – 9:50 AM – #8 seed, 54.35
- 800 free – (Timed Final, during the evening session) – #1 seed, 8:07.27
- 200 free – 9:00 AM – #1 seed, 1:54.56
- No Swims (this day has the 400 IM)
- 400 free – 9:00 AM – #1 seed, 3:57.94
- 1500 free (Timed Final, during the evening session) – #1 seed, 15:20.48 (top 2 seeds on psych sheets are 800m times)
Swimming at the 2018 U.S. National Championships in Irvine, California will begin on Wednesday, July 25th.