Early Workouts of Katie Ledecky, a Distance Legend in Development

Pro Series: Katie Ledecky

Early Workouts of Katie Ledecky, a Distance Legend in Development

Before Katie Ledecky became an Olympian and captured the gold medal in the 800-meter freestyle at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, her coach Yuri Suguiyama (now the head coach at Wisconsin) shared some of his pupil’s workouts with Michael J. Stott. The training sessions below represent some of the work Ledecky logged on the early road to becoming the greatest distance freestyler in history.

Sugiyama quickly recognized Ledecky’s talent, along with a mental toughness that has been a trademark during her career. For proof, look no further than last summer, when Ledecky – coming off illness – dug deep and won the 800 freestyle at the World Championships. Meanwhile, Ledecky has long attacked her races from the start, in the process demoralizing the opposition.

“From a very early age, we noticed that Katie loved to race,” Suguiyama said. “The bigger the race, the more she seems to enjoy the challenge. She will give her best effort regardless of how she is feeling. Deep down she really embraces the personal challenges involved in our sport. There are two sides to Katie. Out of the water, Katie is a very nice and humble person who is a great teammate and a positive role model for our training site and club. However, in the water she is a fierce competitor who hates to lose and is mentally tough. I can give her sets to do by herself or have her come in on her own for extra work and she doesn’t bat an eye.”

Here are three workouts that Suguiyama designed for Katie Ledecky:

Workout #1

1 x 400 stretch @ 6:00
20 x 50 – 10 free @ :45, 10 choice – drill / swim @ :50
1 x 500 – free super 500 kick! @ 10:00
5 x 100 – free pull desc 1-3, hold 4 & 5 @ 1:20

3 Rounds of:
4 x 50 – 2 back, 1 free build, 1 free fast! @ :50
1 x 1100 – free fast! – neg. split and desc. 1-3 @ 13:00

1 x 200 – back

6 Rounds of:
1 x 50 – free @ 1:30
1 x 100 – free fast! @ 1:30

16 x 25 – fly w/fins – odds: underwater kick, evens: fast!

1 x 300 – alternate 25 dbl arm back / 25 free @ 12 strokes

Total: 8,100 yards

Note: Katie’s 1100s were – 11:22, 11:08, 10:40

Workout #2

1 x 400 – free – breathe right / left by 25 @ 6:00
4 x 100 – IM desc. 1-4 @ 1:30
4 x 50 – choice – fast! / ez @ :50

4 x 125 – free kick – alt/ fast! / ez by 25 @ 2:10
4 x 125 – free pull desc. 1-4 @ 1:40

20 x 50 – 4 free drill, 4 free fast! 4 free DPS focus, 4 free desc 1-4, 4 free faster! @ :50

11 x 400 free

#’s 1-9 – desc. 1-9 starting at 5:00 and dropping :05 by repeat
#10 – alt. 25 dbl arm backstroke/25 free @ 12 strokes
#11 – free from dive RACE!

8 x 50 – back @ 1:00

10 x 50 – free @ 500 pace!
1 @ :45, 2 @ :50, 3 @ :55, 4 @ 1:00

1 x 200 – warm down – can’t breath
in the middle of the pool

Total: 8,500 yards

Note: Katie’s 400’s – 4:07, 4:05, 4:03, 4:00, 3:59, 3:57, 3:54, 3:53, 3:51, 3:49

Workout #3

1 x 200 stretch @ 4:00

8 x 150 – 100 IM + 50 free kick @ 2:20
8 x 100 – free pull desc 1-4, 5-8 @ 1:20
8 x 50 – free – drill / build @ :50

16 x 25 – free – 4 cycles of – drill / build / perfect / fast! @ :30

1 x 800 – free neg. split @ 9:00
4 x 200 – free fast! @ 2:30
1 x 600 – free neg. split @ 7:00
6 x 100 – free fast! @ 1:15
1 x 400 – free neg. split @ 4:40
2 x 200 – free fast! @ 2:30
1 x 200 – free neg. split @ 2:20
2 x 100 – free fast! @ 1:15

1 x 200 – double arm backstroke @ 4:00

8 x 50 – free kick fast! @ 1:00

1 x 400 – warm down with breath control

Total: 8,000 yards

Note: Katie held a consistent 1:00/1:01 on the longer free swims and was :57 / :58 average on the short stuff.

Michael J. Stott is an ASCA Level 5 coach whose Collegiate School (Richmond, Va.) teams won nine state high school championships. A member of that school’s Athletic Hall of Fame, he is also a recipient of NISCA’s Outstanding Service Award.

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