There have been few athletes in history that can reduce any event they participate in to a competition for second place. Roger Federer in his prime did it, as did Tiger Woods and Michal Phelps. American swimmer Katie Ledecky can say it now.
Katie Ledecky holds the world record for women’s 400meter (m), 800m and 1500m Freestyle, has won gold at the Olympics and is widely considered the best long distance female swimmer in the world. She also happens to be seventeen years old.
Ledecky burst onto the world swimming scene when, at the age of fifteen she won gold for the women’s 800m freestyle at the 2012 London Olympics. She didn’t just win the event however she won by over four seconds, almost breaking the world record with a time of 8:14.63. For those not familiar with swimming winning by four seconds in a world-class event is equivalent to a hockey team winning by four goals, it’s just not close at that point. Again this was at the age of fifteen. Katie Ledecky was chasing world records at an age where most of us were just trying to figure out High School.
Since the 2012 London Olympics Ledecky has seized complete control of women’s long distance freestyle not having ever lost an international final. She broke the world record for the 800m freestyle at age sixteen before breaking it again by three seconds a year later. The race that probably best demonstrates her utter dominance over women’s freestyle however was in the Pan Pacific Championship in Australia last summer. Before the 1500m freestyle event the television announcers acknowledged that the only drama in the race was if Ledecky would break the world record and even that proved no contest. Ledecky won by twenty seven seconds breaking her own record by six seconds and lapping several swimmers.
Ledecky now holds the top three times in the 1500m women’s freestyle and the lowest time not hers is a full fourteen seconds slower. Her time in the event would place in the top fifteen men’s all time.
By now you should have gotten the idea that Katie Ledecky is not just one of the best female swimmers in the world she is one of the best athletes in the world period. Right now in women’s freestyle there is Katie Ledecky and then there is everyone else.
Katie Ledecky is dominating her sport like few athletes in history have and she is just getting started. With the Olympics not for another two years and not many other ways for female swimmer to gain exposure it might take a bit before Ledecky becomes generally recognized as one of the world’s best athletes but make no mistake she is up there with Lebron James, Mike Trout and J.J. Watt as an athlete that has reached the pinnacle of their profession and show no signs of slowing down.