Katie Ledecky can demoralize male swimmers in practice. That includes an Olympic champion.
“Last year I was the guy getting broken by her,” said Conor Dwyer, a member of the London 2012 gold-medal-winning 4x200m freestyle relay team.
Dwyer has shared pools with Ledecky at altitude training camps in Colorado Springs, Colo. Most recently for five weeks ahead of this weekend’s meet in Mesa, Ariz.
“I saw her break a lot of guys,” Dwyer said. “Your morale goes down pretty quickly when you get broken by a female in practice. I saw a couple of guys have to get yanked out of workout because they got beat by her. Rarely seen that happen, and I’ve trained with a lot of good females in my career. She’s the best.”
Ledecky and Dwyer won separate 200m freestyles on the first night of competition in Mesa on Thursday (meet results here).
Dwyer said he learned from watching Ledecky in Colorado.
“I’ve seen the way she pushes herself in threshold sets,” Dwyer said. “Trying to be like that because I want to get my 400 [freestyle] back to being one of the top U.S. males.”
Ledecky smiled and laughed it off when told of Dwyer’s comments. She claimed she doesn’t pay attention to the gender of the swimmers she outpaces in practice, but …
“I’m not afraid to beat them,” she said.
As for Dwyer, he’s trying to improve after failing to make the 200m free final at the World Championships in August. In 2013, Dwyer was the World silver medalist in the event.
He switched coaches in between, leaving Bob Bowman, longtime coach of Michael Phelps. Dwyer said Thursday he’s in the best shape of his career.
His winning time — 1:46.61 — was his fastest since August 2014.
“Wanted to make a statement,” said Dwyer, 27. “We’ve got to throw together four to six good guys [for the Olympic 4x200m free relay], and I want to be one of those top guys.”
Racing continues in Mesa on Friday, with finals on NBC Sports Live Extra.