What Michael Phelps Thinks About Katie Ledecky

In 2012, at age 15, Katie Ledecky took the swimming world by storm by winning the 800 meter freestyle at the London Olympic Games. It wasn’t since 2000 that the United States had seen such a young swimmer reach and thrive at the Olympic games.

It was Michael Phelps who placed fifth in the 200 meter butterfly in the 2000 Sydney Games and then went on to break his first world record in the same event the following year. Both Ledecky and Phelps broke their first world records during the year in which they turned 16, which is partly why Ledecky’s early success and record shattering accomplishments have been so impressive thus far. But following her first NCAA Championships in Indianapolis this march and dominance in Rio last year, Ledecky beating the best swimmers in the world has not only become a common occurrence, but a routine.

During the 2016 Olympic games, Phelps spoke on the growth of the sport and talent of young swimmers throughout the world. Of Ledecky he said, “She’s somebody who is willing to dream as big as you can possibly imagine. That’s what you need. And that is what all kids should do.” Phelps had previously mentioned the work ethic of the young phenom at a press conference while training in San Antonio prior to the 2016 games but what is becoming increasingly apparent is that he is in awe of her ability to believe that she can do unprecedented things in the swimming world. When asked for his perspective on Ledecky, Phelps stated, “She is doing things that women have never done before because she isn’t afraid to think outside the box. She isn’t afraid to give everything she can possibly give. Her mind is open to everything.”

The video describing Ledecky’s ability to dream big can be found here:

The high praise that she has received from the most decorated Olympian of all time has only heightened the level of admiration that swimmers young and old have for Ledecky, who will be just a sophomore at Stanford come the fall. Ledecky, who is undefeated in freestyle events on the international stage, has cemented herself as the most dominant female distance swimmer in the world and the new face of United States Women’s swimming. More importantly, as Phelps discussed, Ledecky has broken down barriers in the swimming world that were previously never thought possible, and has inspired many young swimmers to dream as big as they possibly can imagine.

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We All Make Mistakes
4 years ago

I believe Phelps was 5th in Sydney.

ERVINFORTHEWIN
Reply to  We All Make Mistakes
4 years ago

He was 5th indeed in the 200 fly , first ever Olympic race for him

Michael
4 years ago

Just going off of memory here, but didn’t phelps get 5th in the 200 fly at the 2000 Olympics, not 4th?

Swimfan27
4 years ago

She’s not just the most dominant female distance swimmer in the world. She’s the most dominant athlete in any sport in the world.

Michael
Reply to  Swimfan27
4 years ago

You know, I’ve actually read an article on this topic that has some fairly good points to add to this claim (just speaking in terms of the percentage she wins by). https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/sports/olympics/how-katie-ledecky-became-better-at-swimming-than-anyone-is-at-anything/2016/06/23/01933534-2f31-11e6-9b37-42985f6a265c_story.html

Not saying I do or don’t disagree with this claim…but I’d be lying to say that I’m not biased here so I just won’t comment.

Uberfan
Reply to  Swimfan27
4 years ago

Uh Serena Williams? Britney Griner?

Swim
Reply to  Uberfan
4 years ago

I think Serena williams didnt medal at rio right?

Admin
Reply to  Swim
4 years ago

That’s correct – no medals in Rio. In singles she lost in the round of 16, and in doubles she and Venus lost their first game in the round of 32. Venus took the second spot in mixed doubles and won silver with Rajeev Ram.

Uberfan
Reply to  Swim
4 years ago

You’re right I forgot the only way to measure dominance is winning Olympic gold not winning two grand slams at the age of 34 and 35 tying her with the greatest male tennis player of all time for oldest winner. Serena lost at the Olympics but she’s completely dominated since if you know anything about tennis you would know winning a grand slam at 35 requires more skill than winning Olympic gold

Uberfan
Reply to  Uberfan
4 years ago

More down votes from people who don’t know anything about sports outside of swim ??

newswim
Reply to  Uberfan
4 years ago

Serena should be part of the discussion has most dominating athlete and yes Olympic medals are not the measure of success. Federer has a case but what makes the Serena/Ledecky comparison better is the way Serena dominated her competition in her prime. (She still dominates when healthy now when she’s clearly past her prime). That is comparable to “margin of victory” for Ledecky. Also Serena’s serve even in her mid 30s is still amazing. Just like Ledecky she’s faster than a bunch of male pros.

SwimDad
Reply to  Uberfan
4 years ago

Sure Serana has been dominant over her career and Katie is only starting hers. However Katie, over the last 2 years, has never lost a race in her favored events ie 400/800/1500. That’s like Serena never losing a match, just no comparison. IMO Katie is currently the most dominant athlete in any sport and when her career ends will be the most dominant athlete in history male or female.

Counter
Reply to  SwimDad
4 years ago

That is not a fair comparison. In tennis, your opponent is actively trying to diminish your ability succeed. They can study patterns and techniques to be able to beat Serena. In swimming, the only way someone can beat you is to be better than you (which no one is in regard to Ledecky), but in tennis there are many ways to beat someone while being the inferior talent.

ERVINFORTHEWIN
Reply to  SwimDad
4 years ago

i would also see it that way . Katie has on top of that multiple World fastest times 400 , 800 and 1,500 + best in the 200 .

ERVINFORTHEWIN
Reply to  Uberfan
4 years ago

Ervin knows what u speak about . unfortunately , Serena didn’t have 3 or 4 Big World Records to her belt at age 19 . Thats pretty hard to beat i think ,,,,

Uberfan
Reply to  ERVINFORTHEWIN
4 years ago

Setting a world record in swimming is easier than setting a world record in tennis

KSchwim
Reply to  Uberfan
4 years ago

Are you on the right website?

HOYA13
Reply to  Swim
4 years ago

While she didn’t win a medal in Rio, Serena has won 4 Olympics golds across three Olympiads, including winning both the doubles and singles golds in London at the age of 30. Serena won her first Grand Slam in 1999 at 17 years old and is still winning Slams today. Let’s see what Ledecky is doing at 35 before we talk comparisons.

In the meantime, let’s just all admire the barrier-breaking talent and poise of both of these incredible women and be thankful we get to witness their dominance.

Sidenote: The Olympics are not at all equivalent between tennis and swimming. The Olympics are more of a bonus for tennis players compared to Grand Slams, while the Games… Read more »

Pvdh
Reply to  Swim
4 years ago

Olympics doesn’t mean that much to tennis players. Probably even less than a master 1000 Event

Uberfan
Reply to  Pvdh
4 years ago

It really does mean nothing. Roger Federer only has two Olympic medals so would you say he can’t be the greatest ever? Utter stupidity from people saying Serena isn’t the most dominant woman in her sport cause she didn’t win gold in Rio

Jonathan W Washburn
Reply to  Uberfan
4 years ago

The original point was NOT about Serena being the most dominant woman in tennis. It was about being the most dominant athlete in ANY sport. Which Ledecky apparently has some valid statistical claim to being. Now, I’m not a believer this this statement ‘proves’ anything other than level of competition. Maybe she’s just ahead of her time. Heck, if I had swum with Johnny Weismuller, maybe they would have said that about me! My personal feeling is Ledecky is a swimming hero; she has a great attitude; she is dominant in today’s pool. And I just LOVE the way she does what she does!

Admin
Reply to  Jonathan W Washburn
4 years ago

I think there’s something to be sad about Katie Ledecky being a correction for a lull-period in women’s distance swimming. I think maybe Kate Ziegler and Katie Hoff and Dagny Knutson never quite fulfilling the potential they showed when young for one reason or another meant that maybe the 400/500/1000/1500/1650 records weren’t quite what they could have been. I’d venture a guess that Kate Ziegler could’ve gone sub-4:30 in the 500 free if she’d swum in college, for example.

Jim Lamore
Reply to  Braden Keith
4 years ago

I think you mean “over-correction,” Braden.

Uberfan
Reply to  Jonathan W Washburn
4 years ago

Serena is statistically the most dominant athlete in her sport by a large margin. Serena dominates everything in her sport Katie dominates one thing distance freestyle.

ERVINFORTHEWIN
Reply to  Uberfan
4 years ago

Serena dominates Tennis – Katie could dominate in different strokes if she truly wanted to ( 400 IM ) – different world my friend .

KSchwim
Reply to  Uberfan
4 years ago

Serena lost and has lost before. Ledecky won and has always won.
Simple enough for ya?

SwimSwamSwum
Reply to  Uberfan
4 years ago

bruh

Troy
Reply to  Swimfan27
4 years ago

I think is a real hard thing to claim just yet. Maybe after it is all said and done, but not yet. Although this is a swimming website many other athletes have done things thought to be impossible in the prospective sport. More dominant then Phelps in swimming, she doesnt have that versatility. As far as Female Athletes now, I think 100 percent goes to Simone Biles. She fell on an event and got second, more medals then any girl ever. Talk about margins of winning. Not only was Biles’ margin of victory the biggest ever in women’s gymnastics, it’s larger than the margins of victory from 1980 to 2012 combined. Just saying

Uberfan
Reply to  Troy
4 years ago

Actually really good point I should have included Biles in my list

ERVINFORTHEWIN
Reply to  Uberfan
4 years ago

Biles was one of the most dominant Us athlete in Rio ( with Katie of course ) . Very Impressive feat she delivered – might well not be matched in along time .

Jay
Reply to  Troy
4 years ago

Biles got third in that event. And it’s impossible to compare margins of victory in gymnastics given recent scoring system changes.

Stack
Reply to  Swimfan27
4 years ago

I just like h÷r because I’m a long distance swimmer in high school right snd am hopeing to swim in college after senior year next year

Bfunk
4 years ago

Could be wrong but I think Phelps was only 15 when he broke his first world record

Louisiana swimmer
4 years ago

Just wait till we get the guy version of Katie ledecky in distance events

PACFAN
Reply to  Louisiana swimmer
4 years ago

That’d be a guy going 3:59 in the 500.

Swammy
Reply to  PACFAN
4 years ago

4:06 isn’t out of the question. Smith pulled his groin the last 50 and he is more than capable of bringing the last 50 from 25 to 23.

PK boo I\'m sad my name is too short now
Reply to  Swammy
4 years ago

4:06 will happen very soon. 4:04 is very doable as well. The World Record in the 400 free is 3:40.0 and 3 guys have been 3:40.1 or better. The best collegian has been what, 3:43.high while in college? Get an athlete who’s capable of going 3:40.low in LCM, have them go to a US college, and you’re going to see a 4:04 500.

Smith said in his interview that it’s one of the softest records and that’s very clearly true-I would not be surprised if we see something in the 4:02-4:04 range seemingly out of nowhere, when in reality it’s due to the stagnation in that event.

Swammy

I think it will be done either at next NCAA’s or if Smith tapers for SCY next year. He also had a gutsy 400 at trials, with his mile time he should be able to hold on better this year.

carlo
Reply to  Swammy
4 years ago

I think a 4:06 is very doable. 4:04 is harder but can be done. But 4:06 in the immediate future sure. Both smith and auboeck can close with a 23. Don’t know about hass though.

Swimfanva
Reply to  carlo
4 years ago

Townley will do it as soon as he decides to kick off a wall. He has way more speed than clark.

beachmouse
Reply to  Louisiana swimmer
4 years ago

His name was Ian Thorpe.

ERVINFORTHEWIN
Reply to  beachmouse
4 years ago

Yeah But Thorpe was not winning 1,500 meter races …..

Prickle
4 years ago

What interesting is when we are talking about two great swimmers that they are incomparable. They maybe similar in their strong will to win and determination. But that is probably it and their tracks in the history of competitive swimming are completely different.
What most amazing about Katie Ledecky from my point of view is that being typecasted a “long distance” swimmer she at the same time is more than welcome on American sprint relay that has a great chance to win World title this year. Same with Phelps who was essential contributor to 400 free relay. But can you imagine Michael competing at something longer than 400m. Not to mention to be a world record holder at such… Read more »

coacherik
Reply to  Prickle
4 years ago

I get what you’re saying, for the most part, but…

Wasn’t as dominant, were you in a coma during the 2008 Olympics? Don’t recall him winning the 200fly in world record time, with goggles full of water or the 2IM by over 2 seconds, 4IM and 2FR by nearly 2 seconds. He chose 5 individuals events across 3 strokes, both IMs from sprint to mid distance and won them all. distance didn’t fit in because of the IM and relay schedule and swimming 8 EVENTS WITH PRELIMS/SEMIS/FINALS.

Just sayin’…

Prickle
Reply to  coacherik
4 years ago

if you get most of what I said then you should see the point I started with. That is: there is no useful point to compare two great swimmers. Whoever does it does it (consciously or unconsciously) in order to degrade the achievements of one or another swimmer trying to find the features that are possessed by one swimmer and are absent with another one.
If I did it then please excuse me. It wasn’t my intention.

Prickle
Reply to  coacherik
4 years ago

Are you sure it was in Coma? I strongly believed by this day that 2008 Olympics were hosted by Beijing, China. 🙂

Jason
Reply to  Prickle
4 years ago

I guess you forgot that Phelps was under contract with speedo for a long time and he wasn’t allowed to use the high tech arena suits!

Prickle
Reply to  Jason
4 years ago

The world records that Michael Phelps is holding now we’re made in the era of high-tech suits. There fore I was under impression that those records were done with the help of the suit and his result would be slower that time should he wore whatever swimmers put on nowadays. Thank you for the correction that it wasn’t, technically speaking, an assisted swim.

Maverick
Reply to  Prickle
4 years ago

Lets have this talk when Katie Ledecky is age 31….

Maverick
Reply to  Prickle
4 years ago

Also Phelps swam the 100m/200m Backstroke in 2007 as an OFF event. was .03 off of the world record in the 100 and .3 off of the world record in the 200.

Lets see if Ledecky qualifies for the olympics in 6 event individually either….

Prickle
Reply to  Maverick
4 years ago

If you want to know my scale of values when classifying swimmers achievements then ask me who’s 2016 season was more successful: Cate Campbell’s or Katinka Hosszu’s?
If your answer is different from my one then we are two GREAT sport fans who are just looking for different features in Sport to get satisfied with. Have a good day and good luck with such tough and nervous job of being a fan in competitive swimming. 🙂

Natare ergo sum
4 years ago

Katie may be the greatest athlete of all time…we can all learn from her incomprehensible work ethic and fearless will to improve.

MrsTarquinBiscuitbarrel
Reply to  Natare ergo sum
4 years ago

Not to disparage a single thing Ledecky has done, but she’s unbelievably fortunate to have her family behind her. Not all parents encourage kids to follow their dreams and talents, alas.

whyd3
Reply to  MrsTarquinBiscuitbarrel
4 years ago

lol what

tea rex
Reply to  MrsTarquinBiscuitbarrel
4 years ago

Ledecky can also swim and go to a really good university if that is what she wants. Financially, her family does not have the pressure of cashing in immediately.

ERVINFORTHEWIN
Reply to  MrsTarquinBiscuitbarrel
4 years ago

Most Big swimmers have families helping them …come on , stop kidding here .

James
4 years ago

There is no doubt in my mind that many swimmers coming up through age group (and even now in college) at the direct by-product of Michael Phelps’ impact on the sport of swimming. Time out the age of most NCAA swimmers ages now (19-22) and you get a group that was 10-13 in 2008. Katie Ledecky is for better or worse going to be considered the “female Phelps” as her career gold medals and other swimming accolades pile up.

Prickle
Reply to  James
4 years ago

JAMES,
In last NCAA Championships Katie Ledecky hasn’t lost any of her five races beating by herself and as a member of relay teams three American records. And yet it looks like this meet didn’t make her really satisfied and her fans felt the same. You know why? Because “piling up gold medals and other swimming accolades” is not actually her career goals by far. I afraid that she never be considered the “female Phelps” and will forever remain Katie Ledecky.