Katie Ledecky At The Dawn Of The Swim League: “Really Excited To Be A Part Of History”

Katie Ledecky of the United States of America (USA) reacts after winning in the women’s 800m Freestyle Final during the Swimming events at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships, Gwangju, South Korea, 27 July 2019.
Katie Ledecky - Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer Patrick B. Kraemer

Katie Ledecky On The Swim League:  “I really wanted to be there for the start – I am really excited to be a part of history” 

When Katie Ledecky first heard about this crazy idea of putting on a professional swimming league – what would be the first global Pro-Team event in the sport’s history – she was intrigued in an instant.

“This could be a really good thing for the sport”, she thought. But it wasn’t until the International Swimming League (ISL) started really falling into place, that she thought:

“Wow, this is really happening – I have to be a part of this.”

The five-time Olympic champion knows about the special feeling of competing for a team, having helped Stanford University to its first NCAA Championship team title since 1996 in her freshman year. A successful Stanford Cardinal repeated in Ledecky’s sophomore year before the 22-year-old turned pro in 2018.

“I really enjoyed competing with my Stanford teammates and I kind of missed being a part of a team.”

All the more reason, she said, to join the ISL.

“This is just an awesome opportunity. You have team members from all over the world. You get to know so many new people, different backgrounds, this really brings kind of a deeper connection to the sport.”

Ledecky, already decorated with five Olympic gold medals and 15 world titles is certain:

“Competing for a team does bring out the very best in you.”

For Ledecky, who also serves as an ISL ambassador, the League’s benefits do not stop at team: “The ISL emphasizes gender equality – on every level.”

Equal number of men and women within each team, equal pay, and competing for the same prize money. Says Ledecky:

“That is something that sets us apart from other sports.”

And Ledecky’s team even took another historical step: DC Trident is led by an all-female direction and coaching staff, with Kaitlin Sandeno at the helm of it all as General Manager.

With all that in mind, Ledecky is “really excited to get this started”, on the cusp of the long-awaited kick-off.

After Indianapolis Ledecky will not be competing with DC Trident in Naples and Maryland. She explained: “I had already set my training blocks for this season before I joined the ISL, so unfortunately, I will not be able to compete for my team on the next two stops.”

And that’s the beauty of the League: training plans for long-term goals can be worked into the schedule of the swimmer and the planning of the League team as the managers and coaches work out which teams to field for best points advantage.

If DC Trident make the final, Ledecky will be back in, chasing the big prizes at the Final Match in Las Vegas December 21-22.

Given that this is an Olympic season, the highly decorated Olympic Gold Medalist could have said: Great idea, ISL, but let’s just start next year. But that was never an option for the 400, 800 and 1500m freestyle world-record-holder:

“I really wanted to be there for the start. I am really excited to be a part of history.“

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