American swimming fans have been spoiled in recent years by having the two greatest swimmers of all time compete in red, white and blue swim caps.
From his great performance at the 2004 Athens Olympics to his final games at the 2016 Rio Summer Games, Michael Phelps was the leading talent in the sport, and no one showed the kind of success he had in the history of swimming. Since the 2012 London Olympics, Katie Ledecky has become the best distance swimmer in the world and has more international gold medals than any female swimmer in history.
Comparisons between American swimmers who started their careers early and who have risen to the top of the sport inevitably emerge between the two greatest talents of all time. Sporting News is taking a look at the resume comparison.
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Katie Ledecky vs. Michael Phelps
No swimmer has won more gold medals than Phelps. No Olympian has won more gold than Phelps. And in the latter, it is not particularly close. Phelps won 23 Olympic gold medals along with 26 gold medals at the FINA World Championships, and another gold medal at the FINA World Short Course Championships, as well as 16 Pan Pacific golds. In total, he has 66 gold, 14 silver and three bronze medals.
Phelps has been with Ledecky for several years, so obviously the totals at this point will not be the same, but Ledecky also started getting wins early in his career. She claimed her first Olympic gold at age 15, while Phelps didn’t pick one up until age 19. At this point in his career, Ledecky has five Olympic gold medals, 15 FINA World Long-run Championship gold medals, and eight Pan Pacific golds for a total of 28 golds, five silver and one bronze.
Additionally, Phelps’ versatility has helped him collect so many medals in his career. He has won international gold medals in three of the five individual styles, butterfly, individual medley, and freestyle. Ledecky has been the best distance swimmer in the world since she was 15 years old, but she has only won medals in freestyle events internationally. Phelps has also competed in all three relays: 4×100 meter freestyle, 4×200 freestyle and 4×100 medley relay.
Still, that gives you four different individual lengths to swim in. Now she will also be given one more at the Olympics in the future, as the 1500 freestyle was added to the women’s side for the first time this year, adding perhaps one of her most dominant races to the potential list of medals you can get.
These two athletes haven’t just won medals – they apparently make history by doing it every time.
During Phelps’ career, he set 29 individual world records and 10 relay records. It seemed that every year that he entered the pool, he was going to break a world record that he had not previously touched or reset one of his own records. To date, his 400 individual medley remains his only intact individual world record, while the relay units he was a part of that set records in the 4×100 freestyle relay, 4×200 freestyle relay and 4×100 medley relay are still there. intact.
Since there have been no Olympics since his retirement after the Rio 2016 Games, more Olympic records remain standing. His 200 freestyle, 200 butterfly, 200 individual medley and 400 individual medley are still the numbers to beat, as do his three relay times. Phelps also holds US records in the 200 freestyle, 200 butterfly, 400 individual medley and all three relays.
Ledecky is still entering the peak of her swimming career and is at a point where it is an annual routine for her to set and reset records. He holds the world records in 400 freestyle, 800 freestyle, and 1500 freestyle. He also holds the Olympic records in 400 freestyle and 800 freestyle from his trip to Brazil in 2016. Ledecky also holds the American records in all three distance freestyle events and was also a member of the 4×200 freestyle relay.
It is still early in Ledecky as he is only 24 years old and probably has many more left to compete.
But they both started swimming internationally at a young age. Phelps made his debut at the Sydney 2000 Olympics at age 15, while Ledecky made his first Olympic appearance at the London 2012 Olympics, also at age 15.
In 2016, when Phelps won the 200 butterfly, he became the oldest swimmer to win an individual Olympic gold medal at the age of 31, although he later lost that record to Anthony Ervin on the final day of the Olympics when the 35-year-old won the 50 freestyle. Phelps added an individual gold and an additional silver at the 2016 Rio Games, along with three relay gold medals.
The oldest swimmer to earn a spot on the US Olympic team was Dara Torres, who, at age 41, qualified for a spot on the 2008 US team. There, she won silver medals. in the 50 combined 4×100 freestyle relays and 4×100 freestyle relays. She was also, at the time, the oldest swimmer to win an Olympic gold medal eight years earlier when, swimming in the 4×100 freestyle and 4×100 medley relays, she claimed the top two medals at age 33.
Can Ledecky keep winning gold medals into his 30s? If you compete in the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games, you will be 28 and 32 years old. There is a long way to go until we can speculate on whether Ledecky will continue to swim as late in her career as Phelps, Ervin or Torres, but with the way she has owned remote free events up to this point in her career. , it would seem like a bad idea to bet against your ability to keep earning gold for the foreseeable future.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.