After being buried in their work for so long, the finest and most dedicated freestyler of all time has finally surfaced.
With two golds, two silvers, and a fifth-place finish, she has accomplished everything she set out to do at these Summer Olympics.
Tokyo Olympics While You Were Sleeping Katie Ledecky Finishes
Competition-wise and time-wise, this Olympics has been the most challenging of her three attempts.
By beating Ledecky in the 800 and by anchoring a 4 x 200-meter relay that shocked the Australians and lost gold to the Chinese, Australian Ariarne Titmus finished her ascent to worthy adversary of Ledecky and the two split their four meetings.
When the 1,500-meter freestyle was added to the schedule, Ledecky swam an additional 6,200 metres of competition.
When you consider that a global pandemic pushed down the preparation for these Olympics by an entire year, you can see how much work went into them. After five years of confinement, she is now prepared to rejoin society after living in seclusion for almost a year.
She longs to return to the city she once called home, Washington, D.C., for the first time since the epidemic hit.
She longs to watch the Nationals play while sleeping in her own bed and eating a breakfast sandwich from Izzy’s Deli.
She feels a sense of urgency to see both of her grandmothers, the older of whom is in her eighties and whose health is deteriorating.
Because that’s really how Ledecky operates, she plans to pay a visit to the schools she attended while growing up in order to express her gratitude for their support. Her loyalty is undying and unwavering.
She might not leave the house for a time.
She is currently free of commitments for the first time in a very long time. The next time she awakes, she won’t be on the hunt for anything. For once, the nature of the fall is currently unknown. She finally responds, “I believe I’ll just let this sit for a little while.”
When Katie Ledecky won the gold medal in the 800 metre freestyle at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, it was a game-changer.
As a result of her eagerness to get 2016 underway, her reign of dominance continued without a single hiccup. After the Rio Olympics, she wasted little time diving headfirst into college life and training.
Eventually, she’ll be able to take a deep breath.
She has never let anything sit for very long in her nine years of greatness, which spans three Olympics and yielded seven gold medals and ten medals in total.
When I asked her how long she’d gone between training sessions in the water, she responded two and a half weeks. She predicts that the previous record will be broken this year:
She longs to splash around at her old swimming hole, Palisades. Maybe she and her older brother, Michael, may engage in a game of water basketball or ping pong. However, she is aware that being near a pool always brings back the itch. Ignoring it for a while is possible, but denying it is impossible.
She explains, “I get quite eager.”
Even if there are no “hard laps” in the next month, visitors to Palisades may still see a legendary athlete getting in a modest workout.
Her greatness lies in the fact that she has been able to maintain that enthusiasm, thereby avoiding the burnout that threatens so many top swimmers.
For years, before the arrival of Australian Ariarne Titmus, her only opponents were the pool’s black line and her own internal clock as she sought to break her own records.
Since 2016 in Rio, when she made her masterpiece, it’s been harder and harder to do that. While there, Ledecky won four gold medals and one silver, broke two world records, and was able to win her longer events by staggering margins. Absolutely no one was nearby.
In 2018, she broke the 1,500-meter world record she’d held since 2016.
But after that, no matter how hard she tried, the pursuit was doomed to failure. She went into every race thinking she could swim faster than ever before, but her efforts were rarely rewarded.
Katie, now in her twenties, never seemed to be able to keep up with Katie, then in her late teens. At some point, she had to accept herself as she was. Even if she doesn’t improve upon her 2016 self, she still has a good chance of becoming world-class at a wide range of activities.
There was never any doubt about the commitment or desire, but there had to be an acceptance of less than stellar results. “I began [after 2016] trying to match or beat the times I had achieved in Rio.
Over time, I’ve come to appreciate just how challenging that is.
If I missed those moments again, I wasn’t going to berate myself about it. That struck me as a profound insight. The expectations I place on myself are ones I am aware of.
This insight can serve as the impetus for her future swimming chapter, and there will be one. Ledecky has said for a long time that she will swim in the 2024 Olympics in Paris, but in an NBC interview on Saturday, the network treated this as breaking news.
She has no plans to retire and has no intention of doing so in the foreseeable future.
She may even stay until the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles, when she may compete in front of her home crowd (or in home water, if you will). Swimming the lengths she does may appear to take an eternity, but she finds great satisfaction in the routine, so the time flies by.
“It’s a lot of hard work, but I think I love the training as much, if not more, than the race,” she added. So she’ll dive back into the daily grind, though we hope this time she keeps her promise to slow down for even longer than normal.
I really hope that if Katie Ledecky enters the Palisades Pool in the next month, she does so on a raft and not wearing a cap and goggles. She merits some downtime.