Tokyo 2020, North America Day 7: Ledecky Will Continue To Paris, “Maybe” LA

2020 TOKYO SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES

Katie Ledecky ended her 2020 Olympic campaign on a high note Saturday morning in Tokyo, winning gold in her pet event, the women’s 800 freestyle.

Upon the conclusion of an Olympic Games that saw Ledecky have some up and down performances by her lofty standards, the question was immediately brought up: Is this it?

In a post-race interview with NBC, Ledecky quickly dismissed any notion of a retirement, saying she’s got at least three years left in her competitive swimming career, if not more.

“Oh, that was not my last swim. I’m at least going to ‘24, maybe ‘28,” said Ledecky, who will be 27 when the 2024 Games commence in Paris and 31 by the time LA 2028 rolls around. “We’ll see.”

Only 24, a retirement announcement from Ledecky frankly would have been a shock, with her still very much at the top of her game in the middle-distance events.

The former Stanford Cardinal swam her fastest time since 2016 in winning silver behind Australian Ariarne Titmus in the 400 free, and was right on her flat-start best time anchoring the women’s 800 free relay in 1:53.7.

And while her individual times in the 800 and 1500 were well off her best, along with a poor showing in the 200 final, Ledecky is still very much a force in the sport and has a lot more rewriting of the history books to do.

In fact, she did some of that with her win in the 800, becoming just the third female to win the same event at three successive Olympics and the 37th athlete in Olympic history to win 10 medals.

And there’s more to come.

NORTH AMERICA QUICK HITS, DAY 7

  • Caeleb Dressel broke the world record en route to winning gold in the men’s 100 butterfly final, clocking 49.45 to lower his previous mark of 49.50 set in 2019.
  • Kylie Masse won her second silver medal of these Games in the women’s 200 backstroke, lowering her Canadian Record of 2:05.94 down to 2:05.42, becoming the sixth-fastest swimmer of all-time.

RECORDS, DAY 6

NORTH AMERICAN MEDAL TABLE AFTER DAY 6

TOTAL MEDALS GOLD SILVER BRONZE
USA 26 8 9 9
Canada 5 1 3 1

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DDU
1 month ago

I’m pretty sure ledecky will drop 200m free

Steve Nolan
Reply to  DDU
1 month ago

Wonder if she’d pull an Ous Mellouli and try open water swimming in ’28 if she sticks around.

MarkB
Reply to  Steve Nolan
1 month ago

Love to see her in Open Water. The training alone would spice up her workouts with a couple days a week out in a lake or the ocean. I’m not sure the world’s female OW swimmers would be too happy about it, though.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  MarkB
1 month ago

Right? And would be a pretty cool thing to add to her resume.

Could definitely see her going 400/800/1500 in Paris and then maybe just 1500/OW in LA to cap it off.

SwimShark
Reply to  DDU
1 month ago

That’s such a tough decision. Usually swimmers drop down distance as they age as long distance favors the youngsters. Ledecky’s split on the 4×200 free relay shows she still has plenty potential in that distance.

Yabo
Reply to  SwimShark
1 month ago

That was such a rough looking stroke though, I definitely think she needs a coaching change

Amadeus Quix
Reply to  Yabo
1 month ago

I fully agree. She needs a change. With the up and coming distance youngsters, this Olympic cycle might be a challenge for her. But she is still Katie Ledecky. And I have so much respect for her.

SwimShark
Reply to  Yabo
1 month ago

I think a change would do her good if she wants to continue. She seems like someone’s open and thoughtful about changes.

Ger
Reply to  Yabo
1 month ago

Bruce Gemmell revisited?

Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
Reply to  Ger
1 month ago

Katie Ledecky graduated Stanford University. Nothing to hold her back.

Bobo Gigi
Reply to  Yabo
1 month ago

“A coaching change?
Hey I’m the guy!
Each night I dream of training her.
With me she breaks 15 minutes in the 1500!”comment image

Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
Reply to  Bobo Gigi
1 month ago

Katie Ledecky was undefeated in individual events at major internatonal competitions with coach Bruce Gemmell. Meanwhile, coach Greg Meehan ground Katie Drabot and Simone Manuel into dust.

Phelps of the lap lanes
Reply to  Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
1 month ago

You can’t argue with that; results show Meehan is a disaster

JVW
Reply to  SwimShark
1 month ago

Yeah, but eliminating the 200 free means three fewer swims in the meet, and she can still probably win a spot on the 800 free relay like Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte did. And this way she won’t have to deal with the 200-1500 double in the finals.

Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
Reply to  JVW
1 month ago

Avoid session doubles at all costs. Ask Zach Apple (men’s 100 meter/200 meter freestyle).

Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
Reply to  JVW
1 month ago

The advantage of the women’s 1500 meter freestyle (heats/final) versus the women’s 200 meter freestyle (heats, semis, final) is extra session’s rest.

Jesh
Reply to  SwimShark
1 month ago

While you do often see youngsters excel in distance events I think we need to take a note from triathlons. We often see podiums of 28+ on the women’s side for triathletes who are inarguably aerobic machines. For open water events where they’re going over an hour plus I think we should be seeing similar age groups excelling.

Paul Thomas
Reply to  Jesh
1 month ago

The difference between the two is that the 400 is a race that can (and, indeed, must) be won by redlining while the 800 and beyond are basically races that involve running at your aerobic capacity for most of the race and then kicking for a lap or two at the end (which is why the time per lap at 800 and 1500 is basically almost the same).

SwimShark
Reply to  Jesh
1 month ago

That’s a really good point. The thing about triathlon is that it’s 3 sports in 1 so competitors may differ in skill levels in swimming, cycling, and running. It also involves strategy and cooperation, particularly in the latter 2 events, which takes time and maturity to perfect.

Coach
Reply to  Jesh
1 month ago

Our 10K women are 29 and 32 years old, and I know Haley Anderson did best times at Trials last month.

Phelps of the lap lanes
Reply to  Jesh
1 month ago

This is an excellent point.

Sam B
Reply to  SwimShark
1 month ago

except when they go up, like Risztov

Paul Thomas
Reply to  DDU
1 month ago

Even the 400 is pushing it. It’s a race of the young; you’d have to go back to when dinosaurs roamed the earth to find a legitimate (i.e. non-doping) Olympic champion older than Ledecky is now.

As I noted elsewhere, I’d like to see her replace those with the 10K. Even if her top-end speed isn’t what it once was, she can beat a lot of people by just maintaining a pace that’s higher than their vO2 max can sustain.

Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
Reply to  DDU
1 month ago

The women’s 200 meter/1500 meter freestyle double/double (heats/final) exhausted Katie Ledecky. Bingjie Li attempted the aforementioned double/double and bombed out of the heats in both events.

In the future, Katie Ledecky needs to avoid session doubles at major international tournaments:

Women’s 400 meter freestyle
Women’s 800 meter freestyle
Women’s 1500 meter freestyle
Women’s 4 x 200 meter freestyle relay

Furthermore, Katie Ledecky dropped the women’s 200 meter freestyle at the 2013 FINA World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona, ES. Thus, the aforementioned schedule is not without precedence.

Bobo Gigi
Reply to  DDU
1 month ago

Common sense.

Virtus
1 month ago

If someone says maybe I feel like their bound to do it if it’s even an idea in their head

DDU
1 month ago

Ledecky want 4 consecutive gold at 800m free at olympics

SBOmega
Reply to  DDU
1 month ago

Titmus May close in on her by then. She won by 11s in Rio and by 1s here

DDU
Reply to  SBOmega
1 month ago

I think anather young talent may wins in olympics 2024

jeff
Reply to  SBOmega
1 month ago

to be fair, Ledecky did have a pretty exhausting schedule here (1500 prelims + finals mainly) that I don’t think she’ll be repeating. Titmus will also start to be on the decline; she’s currently as old as Katie was when she set the 1500 WR and by Paris, will be nearly as old as Katie is now.

Not to say that Titmus will lose for sure, but I think that Katie could probably speed up in the 800 between Tokyo and Paris if she focuses on a select few events while Titmus’ time in Paris will probably not be better than it was today.

Paul Thomas
Reply to  jeff
1 month ago

If Titmus focuses training on improving her vO2 max she can potentially challenge, but that may have effects on her performance in other races. Or, it may just not work if she’s maxed out for her particular physiology.

The difference we saw in Tokyo is that Titmus could outkick Ledecky but had a worse vO2 max and thus kept losing a tenth of a second per lap here and a fifth there. The 400 was just short enough for the former to dominate and the 800 just long enough for the latter to.

Joel
Reply to  jeff
1 month ago

Pure speculation. You’re guessing

Huh
Reply to  Joel
1 month ago

Everything in the future is speculation.

Bobo Gigi
Reply to  Huh
1 month ago

Yeah but we love that game as swim fans.

Troyy
Reply to  jeff
1 month ago

So Titmus will decline and Ledecky will speed up. Hmmm.

Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
Reply to  jeff
1 month ago

Katie Ledecky needs to drop the women’s 200 meter/1500 meter freestyle double/double (heats/final). To even attempt the aforementioned task was sheer insanity.

DMSWIM
Reply to  jeff
1 month ago

I’m not sure how many more years Titmus can go under Boxall’s intense training before burning out. That level of intensity can only be maintained for so long.

Troyy
Reply to  DMSWIM
1 month ago

I hope she takes breaks between each Olympics instead of targetting every big championship.

Yozhik
Reply to  SBOmega
1 month ago

Titmus will be 1 month short of her 24th birthday in Paris. Same age Ledecky is now. I think that she will have stronger decline at long distances than Ledecky. Of those who who can possibly compete at Ledecky’s level or better in three years I see only two youngsters: Grimes and McIntosh. But because they are very young prodigies it’s hard to foresee which way their development goes. The maturity process may have negative effect on their progress. Plenty of historical examples of that.

RMS
Reply to  SBOmega
1 month ago

Titmus will never beat Ledecky at 800.

Phelps Phan
Reply to  RMS
1 month ago

Titmus is the female version of Ian Thorpe.

Packoastie
Reply to  Phelps Phan
1 month ago

Titmus is a phenom, but she is not on the same tier as Thorpe. It is possible for her to get there, but she’s already way behind considering he(as a male) was doing what she’s doing at age 15.

Blairt
Reply to  RMS
1 month ago

Titmus would have beaten her had she sped up at 600 vs waiting until the last 50. She was closing fast and could definitely beat Ledecky in the 800 going forward.

SCCOACH
1 month ago

I thought it was a dumb thing for the announcers to even bring up to be honest

Last edited 1 month ago by SCCOACH
SwimShark
Reply to  SCCOACH
1 month ago

I thought it was an attempt to generate a headline and a story. Really unprofessional the way Michelle asked Ledecky.

Bevo
Reply to  SwimShark
1 month ago

Are we surprised at reporters asking dumb questions? Oh how we long for the days of real coverage by ABC, Keith Jackson, Jim McKay, and Chris Schenkel….

LTyke
Reply to  Bevo
1 month ago

It was such a “gotcha” style question. Not sure which is worse, that or the “how does this make you feel” question after a gold medal swim. Seriously? You can do better Michelle.

Last edited 1 month ago by LTyke
Aquajosh
Reply to  SwimShark
1 month ago

It wasn’t her fault. She was reacting to what Dan Hicks said. Go back and rewatch the 800. Towards the end of the race, he said it was the last race of Ledecky’s Olympic CAREER.

PhillyMark
Reply to  SCCOACH
1 month ago

With how emotional Katie got after winning the 1500 (I thought she was going to wear her goes during the interview), I don’t think it was a horrible question.

Definitely seemed to be more of a sense of relief to finally win, but I’m sure at some point doubt sets in. Once you aren’t hitting the times you expect and competition starts to pass you by, it becomes more difficult to stay passionate about the process

Pags
Reply to  PhillyMark
1 month ago

I agree. There was as much reason for KL to retire as continue. She hadn’t said one way or the other, and a lot of people, including myself, were curious whether she planned to continue or not. The poolside reporter wouldn’t be doing her job if she didn’t ask. At least she were courteous enough to wait until after KL had completed her program in Tokyo.

Ehhhish
1 month ago

I think cause she won her first gold when she was 15 she seems older to everyone so they are like wow she must be on her way out. Also I think some people assume that Titmus beat her because she’s “aging” when in reality she’s just pushing people to get faster around her. Really quite incredible. Would not be surprised if there are 4-5 people under 4 minutes in the 400m in Paris. Largely in part because of the standard that she’s set and even more so now the fact that Titmus has proven that she’s not untouchable and that those goals are attainable. Hopefully it gives female distance a competitiveness that’s been missing over the last few years.… Read more »

Phelps of the lap lanes
Reply to  Ehhhish
1 month ago

If Ledecky swam a PR or matched her PRs, she would have won everything. Question is can she match or better her best times going forward.

swimmer'
Reply to  Phelps of the lap lanes
1 month ago

Yeah the emotion and effort of the 400m definitely took a toll on her. She almost PRed and went her second fastest time all time which is incredibly impressive. You could tell she put everything she had into it. She never really got that close to her PR after that except for in the relay but to be honest she didn’t need to in the 1500 and the 800 again she did what she needed to. I definitely think she’ll drop the 200 in Paris but you never know. She loves to prove people wrong seems like haha.

Phelps of the lap lanes
Reply to  swimmer'
1 month ago

Only Ledecky is good enough to be like 10 to 20 seconds off her PR and crush everyone.

Yes, the 400 was the only PR she got close to.

I think it’s a training issue. If she had stayed with BG, I thought she would have had a legit shot at the 209 WR.

Anyway, Katie is amazing and has a great attitude even when she is not swimming at her best.

RMS
1 month ago

Michelle needs to do her research. Asking Ledecky “Is this it?” That was embarrassing to watch as a viewer.

Paul Thomas
1 month ago

I want to see her in the 10K in Paris (in addition to the 800 and 1500, obviously).

I mean maybe she just doesn’t do open water, but descriptions of her training regimens make it sound like 10K would be close to a walk in the park.

Gogo bibi
1 month ago

Giann Rooney > Michelle Tafoya

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 …

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