Katie Ledecky: Racing against men? That would be fun

Katie Ledecky regularly records times that trump her male counterparts, and would love to race against them. The 5-time Olympic gold medallist also reveals why goal setting is so important to her.

4 min By Andrew Binner
Katie Ledecky 

Katie Ledecky has set a new standard for women’s swimming.

Despite being just 23-years-old, the USA star has already won five Olympic gold medals and 15 world championships titles - the most by a woman in history.

In addition, she is the current world record holder in the 400m, 800, and 1500m freestyle events.

Such achievements have led a growing number of voices wanting to see the Washington DC native take on men in the pool.

“I’d love to, that’d be fun.” Ledecky told swimoutlet.com, upon being asked if she’d like to compete against the men.

At the Des Moines Pro Swim Series meet in March 2020, Ledecky’s performance added fuel to the flames. She swam a 15:29.51 time in the 1500m, which would have placed her fifth in the men’s competition.

“I’ve done that at a couple of meets when I was back on the east coast. I’d love that opportunity. I’ll have to talk to some meet organisers.”

Ledecky V Titmus rematch

But there was one woman who managed to beat Ledecky last season.

At the 2019 world championships, Australia’s Ariarne Titmus caused the shock of the event by defeating Ledecky in the 400m freestyle final.

While it should be noted that the American was struggling with an illness in Gwangju (pulling out of two events later in the competition), the Ledecky v Titmus rematch was one of the most hotly-anticipated subplots to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Ledecky admitted at the time that the loss ‘stung’, and it would appear she was taking no chances with her preparations for Japan.

“I haven’t had a bad practice since January,” the Stanford-based swimmer revealed in March 2020.

“There have been a lot of practices that have stood out. Definitely some that I’d put in my top 10 of all time.”

The importance of goal setting

Aside from total dedication to her training, Ledecky sees goal setting as one of the key components of her success.

As a six-year-old, she kept a list of ‘want times’ - which were her swimming goals.

“From early on, I enjoyed the math and was fascinated by how tenths of a second or hundredths of a second could make a difference,” the psychology student told the San Francisco Chronicle.

“I’ve seen how those goals have spurred me to set records.”

As a 15-year-old qualifier for the 2012 Olympic trials, Ledecky’s goal was to make the London 2012 team. Not only did she succeed, but she also took home the 800m free gold medal.

Ledecky’s three goals ahead of Rio 2016 were to win the 200m free, to go 3:56 or faster in the 400m free, and to go 8:05 or faster in the 800 free.

She achieved all three feats, setting world records in the 400m and 800m.

Following this, she applied for a psychology module at university entitled “How Beliefs Create Reality,” having seen first-hand how goal-setting helped create her reality in the pool at the Rio Olympics.

Ledecky is always careful to keep her goals to herself ahead of an event, but surely the 400m, 800m world records, as well as becoming the first female 1500m freestyle Olympic champion ever will be in her mind for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Getting creative in isolation

One of the goals Ledecky has set herself in isolation, is to stay fit by any means necessary.

With most of the pools in the Bay Area shut, she has had to make do with some backyard pools in small groups, as well as fitness sessions with whatever is lying around at home to remind her of the water…

But despite the period of reduced training, Ledecky’s focus on the task ahead remains the same.

"I still have goals I wanted to achieve, goals that I was hoping to achieve this summer," Ledecky told CNN.

"But I'm perfectly fine putting those on the back burner for next year and staying committed to those goals. I want to represent Team USA next year and do it really well.”

“I think when we get there, it's going to be a true celebration of the world being able to come together again."

For now, it’s back to the aqua burpees for Ledecky, and planning her route to flory at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

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