Katie Ledecky faces decisions in 2015, 2016

Katie Ledecky
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NEW YORK — Katie Ledecky‘s coach recently tried, and failed, to discuss a dilemma with her about next summer.

Here’s the situation:

Ledecky can enter as many as four individual events at August’s World Championships in Kazan, Russia — 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles.

She swept the four at the biggest meet this year, the Pan Pacific Championships in August. She won a fifth gold anchoring the 4x200m free relay, after which a medal presenter proposed to her.

But the Worlds schedule is different and more grueling in some respects. Generally, the women’s 1500m free final — a 16-minute crucible (well, 15 1/2 for Ledecky) — and the 200m free semis are in the same night session at Worlds.

Ledecky broke her 1500m free world record at Pan Pacs, but she had the luxury of not worrying about any other events that night.

In 2013, Ledecky dropped the 200m free from her Worlds program because of the crowded schedule.

Will she drop the 200m free again next year, or will she shed the 1500m free, as it is an event not swum at the Olympics?

“I’ve tried to have the conversation with her about next summer and dropping something,” Coach Bruce Gemmell said before Ledecky won three Golden Goggles awards Monday night. “Right now, she doesn’t want to hear it.”

Ledecky felt the same when asked about dropping an event Monday night. Normally reserved, she began answering before a reporter could finish the questions.

Have we seen you swim a 1500m free for the last time …

“You’ll see me swim it again,” she said. “I don’t know when, but I’ll swim it again. I’m not done with that race. I love that race. It did hurt [at Pan Pacs], but I love that feeling.”

But you’ll have to drop that or the 200m free for Worlds …

“I’m two years older now [than going into 2013 Worlds],” the 17-year-old said, smiling. “I have more experience.”

But Ledecky also cautioned.

“I’m not saying I’m swimming them all,” she said.

Ledecky kept a busy schedule since Pan Pacs. She took about a week and a half off from swimming after returning from Australia.

The Bethesda, Md., high school senior used the extra hours out of the pool to help decorate the hallways with classmates at the all-girls Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, study in the library and just hang out.

Once back in the pool, she was beaten in one fall meet (by men) and wore the cap of a swimmer injured in a car accident at another.

Gemmell discussed Ledecky swimming in mixed-gender races with fellow coach David Marsh on Monday morning. Losing was good, he said.

“She talked about how she swam the races were a little different than she might if she was out there swimming all by herself, which is a good thing because next time she finds herself in a tight race with somebody, it’s another experience she’s had,” he said.

She agreed.

“It was a fun little challenge,” she said. “Bruce told me before I think it was the 500 [free], first race. He said boys like to go out really fast, so don’t go out really fast. The first 75, I conserved my energy. Sure enough, they all went out fast. I sort of was able to catch up. It was a lot of fun. Hopefully, I’ll, once or twice, get the opportunity to do that again.”

Ledecky will swim the 100-, 200-, 500- and 1,500-yard freestyles and the 200-yard individual medley at Winter Nationals in Greensboro, N.C., next week. The meet is held in a 25-yard pool, rather than an Olympic-size 50-meter pool.

Before that, Ledecky got some training in before an appearance on TODAY on Monday morning. She swam in a New York pool at 5 a.m.

Missy Franklin learned of it and joined Ledecky. Franklin is based in California, so for her it was like swimming at 2 a.m.

“We split the lane and didn’t hit each other’s hands once the entire time,” Franklin said with her constant smile. “I think that was very impressive.”

Ledecky’s goals for the Rio OlymPics, mostly about hitting specific times in events, were laid out before Pan Pacs. They were revisited after the meet and left unchanged.

Perhaps the 100m free is on that list. Ledecky is already the top U.S. swimmer in the 200m free. She would have a shot to at least finish in the top six at the 2016 Olympic trials and get on the 4x100m free relay.

“You know she’s going to get faster to swim a world-class 200, and with that comes a pretty good 100,” Gemmell acknowledged. “If she snuck on the team in a fifth or sixth spot, I don’t know if we’d be given the opportunity to swim it [in the relay] at the Olympics. The coaching staff would have to get together and say, hey, what’s the benefit here of doing this thing. Risk, reward.”

Ledecky said she would consider it.

“We’ll see how that progresses,” she said. “You never really know. It’s not something I’ll focus heavily on. I’m not going to jeopardize my other events for the 100.”

Michael Phelps back in the pool

Summer McIntosh, Canadian teen swimmer, caps record year with another historic time

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Summer McIntosh swam the fourth-fastest 400m individual medley in history on Friday, capping a year that already included world titles, Commonwealth Games titles and a victory over Katie Ledecky.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old Canadian whose mom swam at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, won the 400m IM in 4 minutes, 28.61 seconds at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C. She prevailed by a Ledecky-like 13.24 seconds, breaking her own national record that was previously the fourth-fastest time in history.

“It’s still pretty early in the season, so I didn’t really know what to expect going into it,” she said on Peacock.

The only two women who ever went faster in the event known as the decathlon of swimming are Olympic gold medalists: Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (world record 4:26.36 and 4:28.58) and China’s Ye Shiwen (4:28.43).

McIntosh has come a long way in a short time. Three years ago, she put all her eggs in the 1500m freestyle basket, thinking it was her best shot to merely qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020. The one-year Olympic postponement was a blessing.

The rapidly improving McIntosh swam three individual events in Tokyo with a top finish of fourth in the 400m free, just missing becoming the youngest swimming medalist since 1996. She then told her coach she wanted to become an IMer.

At this past June’s world championships, McIntosh won two of the most grueling events — 400m IM and 200m butterfly — to become the youngest individual world champion since 2011. She also took silver to Ledecky in the 400m free, an event in which she later beat Ledecky in a short-course meet (25-meter pool rather than the 50-meter pool used for the Olympics).

A month after worlds, McIntosh swept the IMs at the Commonwealth Games, where she broke more world junior records and again took second in the 400m free (this time to Olympic champ and world record holder Ariarne Titmus of Australia).

McIntosh, who turned professional last year, now trains full-time in Sarasota, Florida, where she rents a house with her mom, Jill Horstead, who was ninth in the 200m fly at the 1984 Olympics (McIntosh, whose passions include the Kardashians and plants from Target, has seen video of her mom winning the B final at those Games). They’re a three-hour drive down Interstate 75 from Ledecky’s base in Gainesville.

Also Friday, Erin Gemmell celebrated her 18th birthday by nearly becoming the first American to beat Ledecky in a 200m freestyle in nearly nine years. Ledecky won by 42 hundredths of a second in 1:56.74 and said she had an off-day while also praising Gemmell, the daughter of her former coach.

NBC airs U.S. Open highlights on Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

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Kaillie Humphries begins trek to 2026 Winter Olympics with monobob World Cup win

Kaillie Humphries
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Kaillie Humphries is off to a strong start to a four-year cycle that she hopes ends with her breaking the record as the oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

Humphries, the women’s record holder with three Olympic bobsled titles, earned her first World Cup victory since February’s Winter Games, taking a monobob in Park City, Utah, on Friday.

Humphries, the first Olympic monobob champion, prevailed by .31 of a second over German Lisa Buckwitz combining times from two runs at the 2002 Olympic track.

Humphries has said since February’s Olympics that she planned to take time off in this four-year cycle to start a family, then return in time for the 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Games. Humphries, who can become the first female Olympic bobsledder in her 40s, shared her experiences with IVF in the offseason on her social media.

“We’ve pushed pause so that I could go and compete this season, maintain my world ranking to be able to still work towards my 2026 goals, and we’ll go back in March to do the implantation of the embryos that we did retrieve,” she said, according to TeamUSA.org.

The next Games come 20 years after her first Olympic experience in Italy, which was a sad one. Humphries, then a bobsled push athlete, was part of the Canadian delegation at the 2006 Torino Games, marched at the Opening Ceremony and had her parents flown in to cheer her on.

But four days before the competition, Humphries learned she was not chosen for either of the two Canadian push athlete spots. She vowed on the flight home to put her future Olympic destiny in her own hands by becoming a driver.

She has since become the greatest female driver in history — Olympic golds in 2010, 2014 and 2022, plus five world championships.

Her longtime rival, five-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor, plans to return to competition from her second childbirth later in this Olympic cycle and can also break the record of oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

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