Katie Ledecky maintains her excellence as America’s world swimmer of the year
at Katie Ledecky superhuman feats in the pool are easily taken for granted.
Only Ledecky could win two gold and two silver at the Olympics and will be asked if she is disappointed. Only Ledecky could totally dominate an Olympic final while facing the lack of such a disappointing world record, as if they were as easy as she has made them seem over the past decade.
This is the price of Ledecky’s unprecedented dominance. Every runner behind the blocks at the Olympics tries, above all, to improve their past. For Ledecky, named America’s World Swimming Swimmer of the Year, that means facing the limits of what is humanly possible. No one else takes on this level of expectation.
But then there is only one Ledecky. And if there was any doubt about the 24-year-old’s stature as the greatest long-distance swimmer of all time, success at a third Olympics should silence them.
Ledecky doesn’t just collect medals at an historic rate, up to seven gold and three silver for his career. She does this while recording an incredible amount of races, a total of 6,200 meters against the clock in Tokyo. (In comparison, Emma McKeon ran 1450 for his seven medals, Caeleb Dressel 1,050 for his five and Ariane Titmus 3,200 for four).
Ledecky deservedly makes the record books as the first women’s 1,500 freestyle gold medalist in Olympic history, a legitimate honor given her profile. She is the first woman to treble in the 800 freestyle, better than her long-distance predecessors Janet evans and Brooke Bennett. (No man has ever tripled in the 1500, their longest event). She added the silver in the 400 freestyle, and even fifth in the 200 freestyle was a finish she managed to find the silver lining.
It’s not just what Ledecky accomplished, but how she did it. Her 15-year embrace Katie grimes, anointed like her distant American heir and half of the “Katie squared” duo, is uniquely Ledecky, though such a welcoming attitude is all too rare. It is the same with his joy to see Erica Sullivan take the money at 1500 free. And his magnanimity towards Titmus, even as they fought epic battles, is indicative of a growing mindset. While athletes of much lesser stature are busy creating enemies in the shadows, Ledecky’s positivity turns his rivals into benevolent motivation. Someone as obsessed with the improvement process as Ledecky doesn’t need extrinsic motivators.
âWe’re really friendly and it’s amazing what she’s accomplished this week as well,â Ledecky said of Titmus. âI’m really excited to have this kind of competition as something that motivates me, and I know it fuels her too. So I hope I can keep pace and stay competitive in the future. “
These relationships bode well for the pursuit of his career. Ledecky is committed to continuing the Paris Olympics in 2024, moving his training base to the University of Florida to challenge himself. She will only be 31 when the 2028 Olympics arrive in Los Angeles.
Ledecky’s trip through Tokyo reinforced an important theme across the Games. She is not a machine. It is perhaps easy to forget, in the oars of the best moments in history and how she coldly sends her rivals into the water. But Ledecky took the time in Tokyo to enjoy the moment, appreciate his voluminous accomplishments, and not take it for granted.
“I told myself before this race to soak up everything because you never know”, she declared after the 1500. “You never know if you are going to be back on the terrace of the Olympic swimming pool. . I remember having this thought even in Rio – I don’t know if I’ll be in Tokyo. It is never a guarantee.
This willingness to embrace vulnerability and derive true joy from her craft bodes well for Ledecky’s ability to navigate the peaks and valleys of another cycle.