Katie Ledecky Won’t Defend 200 Free NCAA Title in 2018

With Tuesday’s release of the 2018 NCAA Women’s Swimming & Diving Championship pre-selection psych sheets, we aren’t certain yet who will be invited to the NCAA Championships, though a number of swimmers have NCAA “Automatic” qualifying times, which means there’s no doubt in their minds, barring injury or other dilemma, of participation.

One such swimmer with that extra level of certainty is Stanford sophomore Katie Ledecky. She has the #1 ranked time in the country in 4 NCAA Championship events and is the defending NCAA Champion in 3 events, leaving her with a decision to make.

In a twist she has opted to drop one of the events that she won a title in last year, the 200 free, in favor of the 400 IM. Both races are swum on day 3, or Friday, of the championship.

Last year, Ledecky won NCAA titles in the 500 free (4:24.06 – national record), the 1650 free (15:07.70 – championship record), and tied with Louisville sophomore Mallory Comerford in the 200 free (1:40.36 – pool record).

That 200 free entry at last year’s NCAA Championship meet came in spite of swimming the 400 IM at Pac-12s, where she set an American Record in 3:57.6. At this year’s Pac-12 Championships, she swam the 400 IM again, but this time her final result of 3:56.53 broke Katinka Hosszu’s all-time best swim.

Both events are extremely competitive. At last year’s NCAA Championship, the top 4 swimmers in the 200 free were all freshmen or sophomores, and even without Ledecky, 4 of the top 5 400 IMers from last season return. In both cases, Stanford also has other NCAA title contenders. In the 400 IM, that’s Ella Eastin, who is the two-time defending champion and actually broke Ledecky’s American Record at NCAAs last year. In the 200 free, that’s Simone Manuel, swimming her last NCAA meet. Though Manuel has missed much of the season with a hip injury, she returned to form at the Pac-12 Championships, and will now be the top seed in the 200 free with Ledecky not racing it.

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Steve Nolan

This is just as exciting as Dressel swimming “off” events.

Steve Nolan

Edit – And I mean that 100% seriously, I love people swimming new things.


totally agree , those guys are awesome in trying new events


Actually I think I’m more excited for Ledecky in the 400IM than Dressels off event should he choose to do one at NCs


Feels like she’s just avoiding Comerford to me, very disappointing.


She’s the NCAA, U.S. Open, and American record holder in 3 events. It makes sense she would swim those three events at the championship.


When being asked why chose 400IM over 200 free, Meehan will say exactly what you said above and won’t bring up a sec of Comerford’s name. ?


I’d imagine she also wants Missy’s record…but she’ll have other opportunities at that i guess. Regardless, I’m excited to see how low she can drop her current record


If she swam the 200 you could say she’s avoiding Eastin. In short-course, I would say she’s clearly better at the IM. I’ll predict a 3:53 next month.


no, i wouldnt say that. The 400im hasnt (traditionally) been one of her bread and butter events


….but, i fully expect her to win the 400im and post up a crazy time


Either has 200 short course.


idk about that. she has the national high school record in it, shes been swimming it (at a high level) for sometime


Obviously she has more experience with the 200 free, but she’s more than a second off the record and didn’t even win the event outright at NCAAs. Whereas in the 400 IM she set the AR at a meet where she wasn’t peaking (a couple of seconds off her best time in the 500). I don’t think she has the speed to go dramatically faster in the 200 but even as the record-holder has plenty of room for improvement in the IM.

Honest observer

Geez, you nailed it, that’s Ledecky alright, always backing down from a challenge.

Coach Mike 1952

well put for good old fashioned *sarcasm* at its best


i agree

Coach Mike 1952

Disagree – KL swims to win, not just swims to avoid losing. Have you ever considered that she might actually want to try something different for a change? She has never backed down from a challenge. By her own admission, she is a “racer”. She loves to race.

Coach Mike 1952

You miss the point. KL swims to win, not just swims to avoid losing. Have you ever considered that she might actually want to try something different for a change? Giver her a break. She has never backed down from a challenge. By her own admission, she is a “racer”. She loves to race.


She could lead out the 800 free relay and get a 200 free time and record thus having her cake and eating it too.


Wise choice.
Throughout the whole season I thought this is the first time Ledecky will be an underdog going into a race, now she isn’t anymore.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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