Katie Ledecky had a rough week at the FINA World Championships in South Korea.
The two-time Olympian even had to withdraw from the 1,500-meter freestyle, her best event, after she became sick and ended up in the hospital.
Yet watching her performance on Saturday, one wouldn’t even have known she was sick.
Ledecky surged ahead in the final length of the 800-meter freestyle, overcoming a .18-second deficit to beat Italy’s Simona Quadarella by 1.41 seconds and earn her fourth-consecutive title in the event with a final time of 8:13.58.
“I told her it was probably the best racing I’ve ever seen her do,” her coach Greg Meehan said, via the Washington Post.
Ledecky became sick earlier in the week in South Korea with what she believes was “some sort of viral thing.” She was forced out of both the 1,500-meter and the 200-meter freestyle and even spent seven hours in the hospital, though there was never an official diagnosis. She struggled to sleep, suffered from headaches and couldn’t keep any food down.
Even when she started warming up on Saturday, Ledecky could tell she wasn’t back to her old self.
“I got to the pool this morning to warm up and felt a little nauseous again which wasn't great,” Ledecky said, via AFP. “I had a brief moment of doubt there but pulled it together and made it happen today.”
Ledecky will spend several days in South Korea before heading back to the United States, where she already has appointments scheduled to hopefully figure out what made her sick.
Then she’ll start training again at Stanford for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, which are about a full year away.
While her time wasn’t anywhere near her world record time of 8:04.79 — which she set at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro — she’s isn’t frustrated.
“It wasn’t the checkpoint that we wanted, and it wasn’t the full indication of where I’m at right now, but I think at the end of the day, we didn’t really need this meet as a checkpoint,” Ledecky said, via the Washington Post. “Greg and I know that I put in the best training since I’ve been at Stanford, by far, this year. It’s not like that training goes away.”
Regardless, Ledecky isn’t going to forget these championships anytime soon.
“Each swim, I think, at these meets is unique and has its own story,” Ledecky said, via the Washington Post. “This one definitely has one that I’ll be telling for a while.”
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