Katie Ledecky Leaves Stanford In Shift To Surinam Olympic Legend & Florida Gators Coach Anthony Nesty For Next Wave Of Her Career

2021-09-22 Reading Time: 4 minutes
Katie Ledecky waves farewell to Stanford after five happy and fruitful years - images courtesy of Katie Ledecky, Twitter

Katie Ledecky, who added two gold and three silver medals to her growing-legend pantheon in the pool at the Tokyo 2020ne Olympic Games this summer, is moving to train with coach Anthony Nesty at the Florida Gators for the next phase of her career.

Guided by Yuri Suguiyama to her first Olympic gold, over 800m freestyle at London 2012 aged 15, Ledecky stayed at Nations Capitol, Washington, and worked under the tutelage of Bruce Gemmell on the way to gold over 200, 400 and 800m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

For the past five years, the most decorated distance freestyler in women’s swimming history has trained (and studied) at Stanford under the guidance of Greg Meehan, who served as U.S. women’s head coach in Tokyo.

Today, Ledecky announced in social media that she will be moving to Nesty for the start of the new swim season, a move that will take her closer to home. Ledecky will serve as a volunteer assistant coach at the Gators. Lucky next gen. She posted:

In Tokyo Ledecky spoke eloquently about the meaning of swimming life in the wider context of life in general, including mention of the moments she finds most special, the interactions that deliver valuable perspective, such as:

Nesty, meanwhile, will be the fourth elite coach of a career now bound for a fourth Olympic campaign. The Gator head coach who took over from Gregg Troy at the University of Florida in the past Olympic cycle is a swim legend in his own right.

At the Seoul Olympic Games, he claimed the first Olympic gold medal ever won by an athlete from his country when he pipped American ace Matt Biondi for gold in the 100m butterfly.

From The Craig Lord Archive: September 21, 2013

As part of our SwimVortex series recalling the events and stars of the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul 25 years on, the second session of finals produced the almost inevitable two golds for the GDR among women, courtesy of Heike Friedrich, Silke Horner and the lab that built the medals machine; the crowning of a new Olympic medley star in the form of Tamas Darnyi among men; and an upset victory for Anthony Nesty, of Surinam, over Matt Biondi in the 100m butterfly before the American won the first of his fit gold medals, as a member of the world-record breaking 4x200m freestyle quartet.

Here’s Short Memory Of The 100m ‘Fly Final

Men’s 100 butterfly – Gold For Anthony Nesty

Anthony Nesty … top right, with Gregg Troy – courtesy of the Gators

On the eve of Olympic season, the form guide for the 100m butterfly held that Pablo Morales, silver medallist in 1984 and now owner of a stunning world record of 52.84, a mark that would last nine years, would rejoin battle with 1984 champion Michael Gross (FRG). But at the US Olympic trials, Morales emerged third in both the 100m and 200m and was out of the Games.

In his place, the new favourite was Matt Biondi (USA) winner of seven medals at the 1986 World Championships, including three gold and a silver, the latter in the 100m butterfly behind world champion Morales.

In the heats in Seoul, five men broke 54sec in the heats, the man at the helm, on 53.34, Andy Jameson (GBR), who in 1987 had defeated Gross and prevented the West German from winning the European crown for a third Championships in succession. Also below 54sec were Biondi, Anthony Nesty, a Surinamese student at Jacksonville University in Florida, Jon Sieben (AUS), Gross and the man who beat him for the 1984 Olympic 200m butterfly title, Jon Sieben (AUS).

In the final, Biondi set the half-way pace at 24.53, well inside world-record pace. Sieben (24.75), Jameson (GBR, on 25.00), Gross (25.01) and Nesty (25.02) followed. At 75m, Biondi still looked strong, though his rivals had started to chip away at his advantage. In the closing three metres, it looked as though the American had done enough to claim his first gold medal of a campaign that had been tipped to match the seven-gold-medal haul of Mark Spitz (USA) in 1972. But Biondi mis-timed his finish and found himself in need of either gliding into the wall or opting for a short stroke.

He chose the latter and paid the price: Nesty took gold by 0.01sec, his 53.00 an Olympic record.Jameson won the battle for bronze in 53.30, 0.03sec ahead of Sieben, who got the better of Gross once again, though this time without a place on the podium.

Here’s an IOC video of the race

Nesty’s victory was historic: the first athlete from Surinam ever to win an Olympic medal of any colour, he was also the first black swimmer to win gold, 12 years after Enith Brigitha (NED), from the Dutch Antilles, had been denied her place in history by the efforts of East German women whose performances had been enhanced by steroids administered to them by doctors and coaches under orders from the state.

Nesty, born in Trinidad, was a product of the US swimming system but that did not prevent him from becoming a national hero among the 380,000 people who called Surinam home. When he flew in to the country on the east coast of South America, Nesty was met by large crowds and swamped with gifts.

When his Government-supplied motorcade was forced to come to a halt in the town of Onverwacht, the crowd showered him with thousands of dollars in notes. He received more from the state, while the national stadium was renamed after him and coins and stamps issued in his honour.

A British tabloid newspaper wrote that Nesty had learned to swim fast by chasing away from “crocodiles in the swamps of Surinam”. An official from the country’s embassy wrote in to tell the paper that there were no crocodiles nor swamps in Surinam.

Nesty has long since been a popular assistant coach at the Florida Gators working with head of the program Gregg Troy.

Back in Seoul, Biondi did what great champions have a knack of doing: he fed off his frustration and went on to win five gold medals in Seoul, starting with victory alongside teammates in the 4x200m freestyle in a world record two hours after the butterfly final.

Morales, meanwhile, took the perseverance trophy as the comeback swimmer of the 1992 Olympic Games when he claimed 100m Gold in the 100m butterfly four years after heartbreak at trials. He dedicated his gold to his late mother.


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