Olympics: Ledecky aiming for swimming glory at worlds and beyond

AFP , Saturday 15 Jul 2023

Katie Ledecky said Saturday that it would be "neat" to cement her place in swimming immortality at this month's world championships and hinted she may compete at the 2028 Olympics.

Katie Ledecky
American swimmer Katie Ledecky. Photo: AFP


The American great can become the first swimmer ever to win six world titles in one event if she claims gold in the 800m freestyle in the Japanese city of Fukuoka.

The competition begins next Sunday and Ledecky is aiming to add to her haul of 22 world championships medals, already a record for a woman.

She will also try to add to her collection of seven Olympic gold medals in Paris next year but she is not ruling out extending her career to take part in the Los Angeles Games four years after that.

"I can say pretty confidently that I'm not going to be done in 2024," the 26-year-old said.

"LA is definitely in the picture. I can't fully commit to it at this point in 2023 but if I'm still loving it and I feel like my body can do it, I think I would give it a shot."

Of more immediate concern to the 19-time world champion is winning in Fukuoka, where a battle royale awaits in her opening race -- the 400m freestyle.

Ledecky, the defending champion, will square off against Australia's Olympic champion Ariarne Titmus and Canadian world record-holder Summer McIntosh in one of the most anticipated races of the competition.

- Showdown -

Sixteen-year-old McIntosh is shaping up to be one of the stars of the championships and Ledecky cannot wait to lock horns.

"There are a lot of great competitors in that race," said Ledecky, who has not faced Titmus since coming second at the pandemic-postponed Tokyo Olympics.

"Of course, Summer and Ariarne have swum incredibly fast over the last two years. I know they'll be right there, and I know there are a lot of other contenders as well."

Titmus added spice to the encounter last month by suggesting that McIntosh lacks experience "on the international stage with the big pressure".

Ledecky said she is "excited to see" what McIntosh can do and is aware of the threat she poses.

"I remember racing Summer for the first time in Japan when she was only 14," Ledecky said of McIntosh, who broke Titmus's world record in March in a time of 3min, 56.08sec.

"She's gotten better and better every year and has grown a lot as a swimmer."

Ledecky will compete in the 400m, 800m and 1,500m freestyle in Fukuoka.

She owns the 15 fastest times ever in the 1,500m, and has won four of the past five world titles in that race.

She has claimed 800m gold for the past five championships and she is excited at the thought of claiming a history-making sixth title in Japan.

"It's neat -- whether it happens or not, it's cool just to have that opportunity," she said.

"I try to be consistent. I really love the 800 free and it's fun to have that opportunity."

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