SwimSwam Pulse: 69.4% Believe Katie Ledecky Is The Female GOAT

SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers if Katie Ledecky is the female GOAT of swimming:

Question: Is Katie Ledecky the greatest female swimmer of all-time?


  • Yes – 69.4%
  • Ask Me After Paris – 23.4%
  • No – 6.9%

Last week, Mel Stewart posed a simple question to the SwimSwam audience: Is Katie Ledecky the greatest female swimmer of all-time?

After laying out some key bullet points on Ledecky’s resume, his ultimate conclusion was yes, and clearly, many of you agree.

We took the question to the A3 Performance Poll, and 69.4 percent believe that yes, Ledecky has earned GOAT status.

Her resume currently includes seven Olympic gold medals, 10 across three Games in total, along with 21 World Championship titles, 16 of which are individual—a distinction that broke Michael Phelps‘ record for individual LC world titles this past summer.

Ledecky’s case also can’t be simply based on medal count, we also have to take into account the unprecedented dominance she’s shown throughout her career in the 800 and 1500 freestyle (and the 400 at times), winning by a landslide essentially every time out.

She’s broken 14 individual long course world records so far in her career, and it’s kind of crazy to think of what the landscape of the women’s distance events would be right now if she never came around.

The world record has dropped more than nine seconds in the 800 free since Ledecky grabbed hold of it (8:14.10 to 8:04.79), and in the 1500 free, it’s gone down more than 22 (15:42.54 to 15:20.48).

Still just 26, Ledecky will be looking to add to her Olympic medal tally next summer at the 2024 Games in Paris, coming in as the clear-cut favorite for a fourth straight gold in the 800 free, a second straight title in the 1500 free, and she’ll also be in the hunt in the 400 free and 800 free relay.

Nearly a quarter of the votes, 23.4 percent, went to “Ask Me After Paris,” as some fans want to see her extend her Olympic success into 2024 before being locked in on Ledecky as the GOAT.

Just under seven percent voted no, Ledecky is not the greatest female swimmer ever. Other contenders for the distinction based on Olympic medal count include Jenny ThompsonDara Torres and Natalie Coughlin, though all benefitted from relays much more than Ledecky.

ChatGPT apparently also mentioned Missy FranklinJanet Evans, Shirley Babashoff and East German Kristin Otto (doped, so disregarded) in the discussion, while someone like Dawn Fraser should also be considered.

Others from past generations that could be included are Shane Gould, Krisztina Egerszegi and Tracy Caulkins, while recent names who have also entered the discussion include Katinka Hosszu and Sarah Sjostrom.

However, it’s clear that Ledecky has started to distance herself from the pack, and if she does what many of us think she will do next year, there will be no debate left to be had.

Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks: Should the 1000 free remain on dual meet schedules?

Should the 1000 free be eliminated from college dual meets?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...



A3 Performance is an independently-owned, performance swimwear company built on a passion for swimming, athletes, and athletic performance. We encourage swimmers to swim better and faster at all ages and levels, from beginners to Olympians.  Driven by a genuine leader and devoted staff that are passionate about swimming and service, A3 Performance strives to inspire and enrich the sport of swimming with innovative and impactful products that motivate swimmers to be their very best – an A3 Performer.

The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Eddie T
19 days ago

I’d add Federicka Pellegrini to the list.

22 days ago

I don’t believe she is the GOAT, I know she is.

22 days ago

Noice, with me in that stat it’s now 62.420%

IU Swammer
23 days ago

Isn’t the 1000/1650 like the 200/400 IM where the coaches can agree which to race?

Fraser Thorpe
23 days ago

As others said in the article, Ledecky’s sustained excellence, possession of WRs that are ahead of their time, winning when it counts (individual Olympic gold) and range/versatility makes her a justified GOAT as she’s got slightly more on her resume in those departments than her other two peers in that tier.

Some pinged her for a lack of versatility but the 200 free is the middle ground for the widest range of events and is often the deepest field and she was able to take on all comers at her peak. And her range – splitting 52+ in a relay while swimming sun 15:30 is nuts.

For mine, Fraser and Krisztina Egerszegi are the only others on that tier;… Read more »

Reply to  Fraser Thorpe
23 days ago

Dawn Fraser is certainly a legendary swimmer. She won three individual golds over three separate Olympic games, all in the 100 free. Sarah Sjostrom has one gold in the 100 fly from 2016. If she wins golds in the 50 free and 100 fly in Paris does she then ascend to your top tier? That would give her medals in four different events over three Olympic games, a pretty impressive feat to say the least.

Good choice with Krisztina Egerszegi. It’s a shame she swam in an Eastern Bloc nation so close to the fall of the Iron Curtain. Had there been professional opportunities back in her day, she could have been the original Katinka Hosszu.

23 days ago

Sjostrom and Caulkins..
Sjostrom..greatest sprinter goat
Caulkins..most versatile goat
Ledecky..Distance free goat

Reply to  Susan
23 days ago


Andy Hardt
23 days ago

“Other contenders for the distinction based on Olympic medal count include Jenny Thompson, Dara Torres and Natalie Coughlin, though all benefitted from relays much more than Ledecky.”

Why does this article go back through the same names that were in Mel’s article from a few days ago, in spite of all the discussion in the comments there? As fantastic as say Jenny Thompson was, I don’t think many people would place her in the GOAT discussion.

At the same time, there are several swimmers who, if not better than Ledecky, could at least be considered her main rivals for the GOAT distinction. Dawn Fraser, Janet Evans, and Missy Franklin were mentioned here, although not in that first list. Some other… Read more »

Pieter H
23 days ago

No, but add 1650.

Reply to  Pieter H
23 days ago

Sir, this is a Wendy’s.

Pieter H
Reply to  PBJSwimming
23 days ago

Sir, check the question for the next poll.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

Read More »