Ultra Swim Swimmer of the Month: Katie Ledecky, Stanford

Ultra Swim Swimmer of the Month is a recurring SwimSwam feature shedding light on a U.S.-based swimmer who has proven themselves over the past month. As with any item of recognition, Swimmer of the Month is a subjective exercise meant to highlight one athlete whose work holds noteworthy context – perhaps a swimmer who was visibly outperforming other swimmers over the month, or one whose accomplishments slipped through the cracks among other high-profile swims. If your favorite athlete wasn’t selected, feel free to respectfully recognize them in our comment section.

Some months, the choice is easy.

Swimming in her first meet since her final NCAA Championships, Ledecky put up no less than 10 stellar swims, dominating the Indy Pro Swim Series.

Most notable, of course, was her world-record 15:20.48 in the 1500 free, taking place on opening night in Indy. That swim, her first ever as a pro, was characterized by some as an ingenious marketing move to drive up her sponsorship value. It caused widespread social media acclaim by other pros (including the question of whether she should win prize money for beating all but two of the men in Indy, and a hint that Stanford didn’t back off its training grind heading into Indy) and it also ended what was quietly the longest world record drought of Ledecky’s career.

Take away that world record swim, and Ledecky still had a better meet than anyone else in Indy. Her 8:07.27 win in the 800 free is the third-fastest swim of all-time. (Her 8:11.70 split at the 800 of her mile would have also cracked the top 10 all-time, though her 8:07 bumped it off the list). She won the 400 free in 3:57.94, the second-fastest swim of all-time. She won the 200 free in 1:55.42, the 4th-best time in the world this year. And she was 5th in the 100 free (54.56) and 4th among Americans at the meet, suggesting she could continue to push for the U.S. 4×100 free relay at both Pan Pacs and the 2019 World Championships. And don’t forget a 4:38.88 in the 400 IM that rattled her lifetime-best and came within a nose of a fifth win.

Here’s a look at all of Ledecky’s Indy swims, prelims included, in chronological order:

  1. Wed: 1500 free – 15:20.48 (WR)
  2. Thurs: 400 free – 4:02.08 (prelims)
  3. Thurs: 100 free – 55.02 (prelims)
  4. Thurs: 400 free – 3:57.94 (2nd-best performance all-time)
  5. Thurs: 100 free – 54.56
  6. Fri: 400 IM – 4:41.54 (prelims)
  7. Fri: 200 free – 1:57.00 (prelims)
  8. Fri: 400 IM – 4:38.88
  9. Fri: 200 free – 1:55.42 (4th in world rank)
  10. Sat: 800 free – 8:07.27 (3rd-best performance all-time)

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Jim C

I think her 3:57.94 in a traditional Olympic event may her best performance of the meet.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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