KATIE LEDECKY AT THE 16th FINA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS IN KAZAN, RUSSIA
Look out Micheal Phelps, the sport of swmming has a new super hero. Yesterday 18-year-old swimmer Katie Ledecky broke her own world record and won the 800-meter freestyle finals at the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia, sweeping all of the freestyle events in which she competed. She is the first swimmer in history – male or female – to win four freestyle events at a single world championships. Ledecky will take home five gold medals, individually in the 200, 400, 800 and 1500-meter freestyle events, and with her U.S. teammates in the 4×200 freestyle relay.
What is most impressive is the range of events in which she is champion. From the sprint distance of the 200-meter to the endurance race of the 1500-meter, she dominated. After breaking her own world record in the 1500-meter preliminary event, she broke it again 24 hours later in the event finals – by more than two seconds. Then, just 29 minutes later, she raced in the 200-meter semi-finals. USA Today noted “a long-distance freestyler should not be able to win a sprint. This is a testament to Ledecky’s strength, stroke, kick and smarts.” She turned heads once more in the 800-meter finals on Saturday, breaking her own world record from 2014 and winning by more than 10 seconds.
Since the 2012 Olympic games, Ledecky has broken nine world records in just two years. She is the current world record holder in the 400, 800, and 1,500-meter freestyle. Hailing from Bethesda, Maryland, Ledecky is quickly becoming the most impressive female swimmer of all time. She just graduated from high school in the spring and will attend Stanford University on a swimming scholarship. She will defer enrollment until the fall of 2016, as she’ll focus the next year on training for the Summer Olympics in Rio.
Rio won’t be Ledecky’s first go-around as an Olympian. In 2012, at just 15 years old, she stunned the world when she took home gold in the 800-meter freestyle finals. In what the announcers called “one of the finest swims you’ll ever see,” she was an impressive four seconds – or two body lengths – ahead of the silver medalist, Spain’s Mireia Belmonte Garcia. With the 2016 Summer Olympic Games just about a year away, excitement is already building. One of the big stories and athletes to watch will sureley be Katie Ledecky and we’ll be keeping our eyes on her all the way to Rio!
By Kristen Leen; Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images