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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5 years ago

Correction…. Katinka Hosszu is NOT the fastest in short course meters. Belmont Garcia broke the world record in the World Cup this year … 4:18

Reply to  SeanSwimmer
5 years ago

Hosszu has the record for short course yards as stated in the article (if there was a typo it got corrected)

5 years ago

Thought I heard a “Go BB” at the beginning of that video. That’s Galat’s nickname, in case anyone was wondering.

Tom from Chicago
5 years ago

Ledecky’s free and turns look good, but her other 3 strokes look like they could improve. Imagine what she could do if she focused on this event.

Reply to  Tom from Chicago
5 years ago

Ledecky had really good turns and caught Eastin on her turns. Forde also had awesome freestyle to catch Galat at the end after being behind during Breaststroke.

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5 years ago

Me reading the first words: “Katie Ledecky goes 3:59 in 4– Mid-season, WOW! 400 free 3:59 in season!” Then my brain caught up to me.

5 years ago

I wonder what ledecky could go in 200 fly. Seems like that’s her second best stroke

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Reply to  Klorn8d
5 years ago

I’m guessing 1:53ish- maybe even faster. She was out in a 54.7 for her IM. Katie Drabot was out in the same this morning in the 200 fly prelims and swam 1:52.9. No doubt in my mind that if Ledecky trained for the 200fly she could do well in the event. Perhaps not as well as in her signature events, but she could be very competitive.

5 years ago

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).

Was it Ledecky or Easton who has the AR?

Reply to  Braden Keith
5 years ago

So the second sentence on the 3rd paragraph is incorrect then…

“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).”

It should be Easten held the AR, right?

5 years ago

Don’t think Ledecky “shied away” from anything last season. She broke American records 9 times and NCAA records 12 times across several events on way to being recognized as the nation’s top female collegiate athlete. She did what was needed for Stanford to go undefeated en route to an NCAA championship. She broke ARs at both PAC 12 and NCAAs. I recall her swimming the 1000 Free at the Cal meet and jumping out of the water to swim the 200 Free literally a minute later, winning both events. She undoubtedly follows her coaches’ requests as to event scheduling.

crooked donald
5 years ago

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/co-owner 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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