Katie Ledecky to Turn Pro, Continue Training at Stanford

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Katie Ledecky, a five-time Olympic gold medalist, has announced that she will forgo her final two seasons of NCAA eligibility and become a professional swimmer. Ledecky made the announcement Monday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

A video of Ledecky’s ongoing press conference is available here.

Ledecky will continue to train at Stanford under coach Greg Meehan and continue to work towards her undergraduate degree. Ledecky announced at the press conference that she will declare a major in psychology.

Read a full press release from Ledecky below:

Stanford University sophomore and Olympic champion Katie Ledecky of Bethesda, Md., announced today that she will forego her final two years of NCAA eligibility in collegiate swimming to accept professional sponsorship and endorsement opportunities as she trains for the 2020 Olympic Trials in a bid to attend her third Olympic Games.

Headlining a National Press Club luncheon in Washington, D.C., Ledecky stated that she plans to continue to train with Coach Greg Meehan, the Paul A. Violich Director of Women’s Swimming at Stanford. Ledecky, a Scholastic All-American who was recently named to the 2017-18 Pac-12 Conference Swimming & Diving All-Academic First Team, said she will continue to attend college at Stanford as a psychology major, but will not compete in further NCAA swimming competitions.

A two-time Olympian, five-time Olympic Gold medalist, 14-time World Champion, and five-time NCAA champion, Ledecky played an integral role in consecutive collegiate National Championship teams at Stanford in her two years representing the school.

In 2016-17, she was the recipient of the CWSA Honda Cup as the top female collegiate athlete in the nation as she won five NCAA titles and broke American records 9 times and NCAA records 12 times, helping to lead Stanford women’s swimming to its first national championship in 19 years.

Ledecky also helped the 2017-18 Stanford squad race to another NCAA title, with Stanford capturing the NCAA team competition this season by the largest point margin of victory in 25 years. Ledecky won the 500-yard freestyle by eight seconds and the 1650-yard freestyle by 28 seconds. She also anchored Stanford’s victorious 800-yard freestyle relay team.

“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to train and swim collegiately for two years alongside some of the greatest women swimmers of this generation—swimmers who are not just great athletes, but great people as well. I am equally excited about the opportunities and challenges ahead as I continue to compete internationally and further my education,” Ledecky said.

Coach Meehan added, “We are really excited for Katie as she moves on to the next stage of her career as a professional athlete. This is the right time for this transition, and we are thrilled she will continue her training at Stanford. Over the past two years, Katie has achieved unprecedented levels of success in the pool, but it’s her impact on our program as a whole which we will remember most. Katie brought a new level of training to our team, and helped the distance group become the most formidable in the country. I am most proud of Katie for embracing what it means to be a great teammate and a true student-athlete.”

Ledecky, the 2017 Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year, first struck Olympic gold at the age of 15 at the 2012 London Olympics, winning the 800-meter freestyle in American-record time as the youngest athlete in the entire U.S. Olympic delegation.

At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Ledecky won four gold medals and one silver medal while setting two world records, establishing the finest gold-silver medal performance of any U.S. Olympic female athlete at a single Olympic games. She followed up her 2016 Olympic performance by winning five gold medals and one silver medal at the 2017 World Championships in Budapest. Ledecky has broken World Records 13 times and American Records 33 times in her career. Her total of 14 Olympic and World Championship gold medals in individual events is a record for female swimmers.

16 Comments

16 comments

  1. avatar
    Mark Schwartz

    Wow, I’m astonished. She seems to really love being part of a team. It must have been a wrenching decision.

  2. Suzie Thompson

    Finishing school? As a pro I know she is committed to educating kids and coaches but why not do it all

    • Meg McLaughlin

      It says she’s going to finish her degree in the article. She just won’t be competing collegiately so she can actually make money.

      • avatar
        Leander

        The articles also said that Danny Knutson, Missy Franklin, Katie Hoff and Kate Ziegler were going to finish their degrees, but I don’t think any of them did. Maybe Kate Ziegler did, but I’m fairly sure the rest haven’t. Tom Dolan also never graduated after quitting school. MIchael Phelps claimed he was going to go to the University of Michigan but that lasted about a semester.

        But, who knows? Maybe this time it will work out.

  3. avatar
    Rick Smith

    It’s a shame she has to choose one over the other.

  4. Nicholas Miller

    NCAA open up your eyes your losing great athletes to go pro in a lot of sports.

  5. Clare Higgins

    If Katie isn’t pro material then no one is…

  6. avatar

    More money and more time to train without NCAA restrictions.

  7. avatar
    J Loucks

    Makes sense.. Congratulations. Great compromise given the trade-offs.
    She will be compensated for her past results and potential.
    Stanford seems very likely to get an alumnus, which didn’t happen for Cal under similar circumstances.
    Win, win, win.

    • avatar
      Leander

      She would be an alumna not an alumnus.

  8. Thomas O

    .
    Support Pro Swimming. Attend an event! Help it grow.

  9. Paul Anthony

    Bout time! Never should have swam in the NCAA.

Author: David Rieder

avatar
David Rieder is a staff writer for Swimming World. He has contributed to the magazine and website since 2009, and he has covered the NCAA Championships, U.S. Nationals, Olympic Trials as well as the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and the 2017 World Championships in Budapest. He is a native of Charleston, S.C., and a 2016 graduate of Duke University.

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