Katie Ledecky’s World Record Under The X Ray


It’s always very easy and at the same time really amazing to analyze the terrific performance of Katie Ledecky.

With the collaboration of Stefano Nurra, a video analyst and coach for the Turkish Swimming Federation, the Energy Standard Swim Club, and the Austrian Swimming Federation, we present an analysis of Ledecky’s race.

Even if the data table shows an almost perfect management of the race, I am not willing to give up the idea that  perfection does not exist.

First of all, the management of the speed is very interesting. The time recorded at the end of the first  300m is the fastest and very close to the time recorded for the last 300m.

For the second 300m we recorded the slowest time. After that there is a great  progression: 3:02.50 – 3:05.79 – 3:04.91–3:04.74 – 3:02.54. The race respects the scheme 1/5/4/3/2.

Ledecky Race Strategy

The race strategy is an important debating point for a lot physiologists and sport scientists.

According to the latest theories the biomechanical point of view plays an important role for the short race but  for the middle distances the  metabolic point of view clearly gains in importance.

The dynamic of lactate production and accumulation and the dynamic of activation of Max Vo2 is one of the main topics of discussion.


The “metabolic way” explains that Katie’s strategy (in order of speed 1st part, 5th part, 4th part, 3rd part and 2nd part) is the best solution to avoid accumulating too much lactate too quickly. At the same time it’s the best way to allow the right activation of MaxVo2.

Another interesting topic is the management of the balance between stroke rate- stroke length. In the first 100m the SR is higher and the SL a little bit shorter. After this point the balance is almost consistent until the 14th 100. There it looks like she was preparing the last one.

In the 14th 100 she increased the SR reducing the SL. In the last one she increased the SL keeping the  same SR in order to close the race in the best way.

Last but not least we have to consider the efficiency of the turns:

  1. The speed shows us the correct difference between turns and swimming, from the beginning to the end
  2. She is able to keep almost the same time at every turn from the beginning to the end. That’s incredible!

All the parameters we spoke about and the final result are  certainly indicative of a very precise and accurate training.

Nothing was left to chance.

Click here to see the Ledecky speed measures evolution

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Becky D
3 years ago

Great analysis.

Does anyone else think the pic makes it look like Katy has a tongue piercing?

Reply to  Becky D
3 years ago

A little, but I believe it is a water droplet

Reply to  Becky D
3 years ago

I thought the same thing, but it has to be a water droplet.

Becky D
Reply to  Becky D
3 years ago

Yes, I agree it’s a water droplet. I just thought the placement was kind of amazing. Sort of like Katy.

Reply to  Becky D
3 years ago

That some kind of metallic fixture and proof she is an android from another planet.

3 years ago

Whoever is involved in data analysis knows that there is a difference between data and information. This article provides almost zero information about the specifics of Katie Ledecky’s style and strategies in long distance races. The data collection maybe useful if comparison analysis is performed:
Ledecky vs Ledecky in different distances and different races. Or Ledecky vs other swimmers.

Reply to  Yozhik
3 years ago

This is interesting none-the-less

Curt Altschul
3 years ago

First of all, congrats to Ledecky. She is to women’s distance swimming as Caleb Dressel is to men’s sprinting and that is AMAZING! Blood lactate accumulation management is the key to all swims from 100 on up. There are myriad reasons why coaches must know and understand the science, appropriate training and race strategy to get top performances from their athletes at all levels. I’ve presented on this topic (my Master’s thesis) at coaches clinics and describe how the sciences regarding muscle anatomy, cellular biology, physiology, and physics tie together to get top performance. That science and the scientific theory I develop is simply undeniable.

About Giusy Cisale

Giusy Cisale

 GIUSY  CISALE Giusy Cisale ha frequentato il Liceo Classico "T.L. Caro" dove era impegnata nella redazione della rivista scolastica. Nel 2002 è tra le più giovani laureate in Giurisprudenza dell'Università Federico II di Napoli (ITA). Inizia il percorso di Avvocato Civilista, conseguendo nel 2006 l'abilitazione all'esercizio della professione di avvocato. Si avvicina al nuoto …

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