Here are a handful of excerpts from an awe-inspiring, MUST READ article by Michael Sokolove on Katie Ledecky:
- The most dominant swimmer in the pool this summer is 19 year-old Katie Ledecky. The question isn’t whether she’ll win, but by how much…
- She is now the world’s top female swimmer in the 200, 400, 800 and 1,500 freestyles. She is among the best Americans in the 100 free. No swimmer has conquered this combination of distances in nearly half a century, and to many in the sport, her achievement is hard to fathom — it would be like the Jamaican star sprinter Usain Bolt taking up and winning mile races.
- No other woman has ever come within seven seconds of her top time in the 800 freestyle; in the 1,500, the gap is a ridiculous 13 seconds. At the Olympic trials, Leah Smith, an emerging middle-distance swimmer, came within two seconds of her in the 400. She said she was excited because, in her races against Ledecky, “I had never been able to see her feet before.”
- In the starting blocks before a race, Ledecky does not stroke her biceps or pound her fists against her own body, as some male swimmers do…She just stretches her neck a bit and shakes her arms out, then dives in the pool and wins.
- She has only three real training partners, all of them male, because they are the only ones with the ability to keep up with her. They swim either in the same lane or in an adjoining lane to Ledecky…It’s not unusual for men and women swimmers to train together, but being in the pool with Ledecky is something that many men can’t handle. In April, Conor Dwyer, a 6-foot-5, 27-year-old American swimmer who won a gold medal in the 4-by-200 freestyle relay in London, gave a revealing interview posted online by USA Swimming. In it, he talked about male swimmers being “broken” by Ledecky when they practiced together at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
- I saw a couple of guys have to get yanked out of workout because they got beat by her.” When I asked Ledecky about this, she claimed not to have noticed. “I was probably just concentrating on doing my own work,” she said.
- “I’m not gonna lie, it can be annoying when she beats you,” Hirschberger told me. Even if the person getting the best of him is a reigning world-record holder in three events? “You’re just not used to getting beat by a girl,” he said…”What’s going on next to me is just ridiculous. It’s unreal. (Andrew Gemmell, a Ledecky training partner)
Don’t miss the full story here: NY Times Magazine – The Phenom