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With Katie Ledecky Turning Pro, Here’s A Look At Her Stellar Legacy At Stanford

By Karen Price | March 26, 2018, 6:01 p.m. (ET)


Now that Katie Ledecky has made her announcement to go pro, with her last college race taking place earlier this month, she will leave quite a legacy at Stanford and in the NCAA record books. 

Among the seemingly endless list of collegiate accomplishments, the five-time Olympic gold medalist and college sophomore has set seven Stanford records, three Stanford pool records and has broken American records 11 times, NCAA records 15 times and NCAA meet records six times in the last two years.

She recently helped the Cardinal to a second consecutive NCAA championship, and added three NCAA titles to the five she won as a freshman. 

It’s estimated that Ledecky gave up the chance for millions of dollars in endorsements when she decided to stick with college instead of turning pro following the Olympic Games Rio 2016, but the Bethesda, Maryland, native wanted the college experience.

She plans to continue taking classes and training at Stanford, but will not return to the NCAA scene for her junior year.

Here are some of the highlights of her freshman year, according to the Stanford athletic department:

  • She broke seven school records as a freshman, setting new marks in the 200-yard freestyle, 500 free, 1,000 free, 1,650 free, 400 IM, 400 free relay and 800 free relay.
  • She broke American records nine times, NCAA records 12 times and NCAA meet records four times.
  • She became the first Stanford swimmer since Misty Hyman in 1998 to win three individual event titles and two relay titles at a single NCAA championships and the first NCAA swimmer in 29 years to win titles in the 200, 500 and 1,650 freestyles at a single NCAA championships.

Katie Ledecky announces that she will become a professional swimmer during the Newsmakers luncheon at the National Press Club on March 26, 2018 in Washington, D.C.

In 2017, Ledecky not only helped Stanford to win its first NCAA championship since 1998 but was also a four-time Pac-12 champion, a five-time All-America and a five-time NCAA champion, becoming the only swimmer to win that many titles at the meet. She was named the Pac-12 championships swimmer of the meet, the Pac-12 swimming newcomer of the year and a CSCAA Scholar All-America. Ledecky was awarded the Honda Cup for the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year, becoming only the second freshman to win the award. 

Then in the summer, instead of having some downtime, Ledecky won titles at the U.S. national championships in the 200 free, 400 free and 800 free and five gold medals and one silver medal at the world championships.

Ledecky only slowed the place slightly as a sophomore. She helped Stanford to its second consecutive NCAA championship and won another three titles, this time in the 500 free, 1,650 free and 800 free relay. The Cardinal won another Pac-12 championship and Ledecky was a member of the Pac-12 All-Academic First Team, a four-time All-America, and was undefeated in the 200 free, 500 free, 1,000 free and 1,650 free. She suffered a loss in an NCAA championships for the first time in eight finals when teammate Ella Eastin beat her in the 400 IM, but won the 1,650 free by 28 seconds on the day she turned 21 years old in what could have been her last college race. Although she doesn’t race the 400 IM internationally and was thrilled for her teammate, Ledecky admitted she wasn’t completely satisfied with her week overall.

“I’m never really satisfied,” she said in the post-meet press conference. “If I was then I should retire. There’s always something I’m working toward. I always try to walk away from a meet with something I learned. There are a lot of things I learned this week and a lot of positives to take away.”

When asked her plans for next year, Ledecky said she had a final exam coming up and that was about as far into the future as she was looking.

“This year I’ve just been trying to stay in the present and right now the present is we just won a national championship and I’m going to enjoy that,” she said. “Tomorrow morning we’re going to wake up as national champions and we have finals to take next week. That’s going to be occupying my mind.”

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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Katie Ledecky