WATCH: Katie Ledecky Swim Mid-Season 3:59 in 400 Yard IM


While Katie Ledecky shied away from swimming the 400 IM at her first NCAA Championship in March, instead focusing on the more predictable 200-500-1650 freestyle event lineup, she’s proven that, at least in short course yards, she might be the best 400 IM’er in the NCAA.

The latest data point was her 3:59.69 on Friday at the Art Adamson Invitational. That’s the 19th-best time in NCAA history in the event, and the second-fastest mid-season yards swim ever behind Katinka Hosszu’s 3:58.86 at the 2011 Texas Hall of Fame Invitational. Hosszu is now the fastest-ever 400 IM’er in both yards and long course meters.

On Friday, Ledecky out-raced her junior teammate Ella Eastin, who is the two-time defending champion and American Record holder. Ledecky held that American Record via swim at Pac-12s last year where she swam 3:57.68 (which remains the 3rd-fastest swim ever). Eastin then broke that record at NCAAs.

With Ledecky just tying Louisville’s Mallory Comerford for gold in the 200 free, and Comerford appearing as a freight-train who is forcing her way into superstardom, Ledecky will have a decision to make – risk going after the 200 free again, or swim the 400 IM where she’ll be challenging her teammate Eastin (and freshman Brooke Forde, for that matter) for spots atop the table.

While Stanford should run away with the team title regardless, the Ledecky-Eastin conflict is similar to the Ledecky-Manuel conflict in the 200 free (if Manuel is healthy), and shifting Ledecky to the 400 IM probably reduces the likelihood of winning both events at NCAAs.

Below, watch the women’s 400 IM final from Friday, featuring but Ledecky (lane 4 from bottom) and Eastin (lane 3 from bottom – 4:00.74). That final also saw 2 other swimmers hit NCAA A cuts – the aforementioned Forde (4:02.83) and last year’s 4th-place finisher at NCAAs Bethany Galat (4:02.85).

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what a legend

Joel Lin

Like the full flower of Usain Bolt in his prime, it must simply be demoralizing to be a rival in this Ledecky era.


I’m wondering what you mean by “shifting Ledecky to the 200 free probably reduces the likelihood of winning both events”

crooked donald

What a sinking feeling it must be to have Ledecky by only a half body length going into free.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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