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Who is... Katie Ledecky

Who is... Katie Ledecky

Katie Ledecky, already a 2012 Olympic gold medalist, captured a combined nine gold medals at the 2013 and 2015 World Championships.

Katie Ledecky won her first Olympic gold at the 2012 London Games, in the 800m freestyle. Since, she's gone on to dominate not only the distance freestyle events, but also the middle and sprint events. Between the 2013 and 2015 world championships, she won a combined nine gold medals.

Swimming beginnings

Ledecky was born on March 17, 1997, and she began swimming at age 6 in order to follow in her older brother's footsteps. She was the youngest member of Team USA's Olympic delegation across all sports at the 2012 Games.

Major competitions/ medals

She found Olympic success early in her career when, at age 15, she won gold in the 800m freestyle. Ledecky's time at the Games smashed Janet Evans' American record, set 23 years earlier.

At the 2013 World Championships, Ledecky set world records in the 800m and the non-Olympic 1500m freestyle events. She broke an American record in the 400m freestyle, and won all three events. She won another gold as part of the 4x200m freestyle relay, alongside Missy Franklin, Karlee Bispo and Shannon Vreeland.

Breakout moment

At the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia, she became the first-ever swimmer to capture gold in the 200m, 400m, 800m and non-Olympic 1500m freestyle events. The feat has become known as the "Ledecky Slam" and included breaking (her own) world records in the 400m, 800m, and 1500m. Ledecky managed to break her 1500m freestyle record twice: once in the preliminary heats and again in the final. About a half an hour after winning the 1500m free final by almost 15 seconds, Ledecky raced in the 200m free semifinal to secure her place in the following day's final.

Records held

World records:

400m freestyle            3:58.37            2014 Pan Pacific Championships

800m freestyle            8:06.68            2016 Austin Pro Series

1500m freestyle          15:25.48          2015 World Championships

American records:

400m freestyle            3:58.37            2014 Pan Pacific Championships

800m freestyle            8:06.68            2016 Austin Pro Series

1500m freestyle          15:25.48          2015 World Championships


Ledecky was the first-ever swimmer to win the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle events at a single world championships. When she did it in 2015, it became known as the "Ledecky Slam."

If Ledecky wins gold in the 800m free in 2016, she'll be the third U.S. woman to successfully defend her 800m Olympic title, alongside Janet Evans (1988 and 1992) and Brooke Bennett (1996 and 2000).

Top quotes

"She's pretty good on the swimming side, but she's a better person than she is a swimmer. Wherever she ends up in life, whenever this winds down, she will make people and things around her better because of her involvement with them, and that's the greatest contribution anyone can make," Ledecky's coach, Bruce Gemmell said to USA Swimming

"Katie is an inspiration to everyone. What she does is incredible, and it's never been done before," five-time Olympic medalist and U.S. teammate Missy Franklin said on Universal Sports

"She's a tough girl. It's fun watching her swim. Once I'm done, it's going to be fun watching what she does over the next however many years she swims.  She just seems to be getting faster and faster. The little 15-year-old girl going out for her first Olympic final goes out and kills it. I mean just destroys it. She swam so perfect. She knows what she's doing, and it's fun to watch her." - 18-time Olympic gold medalist and U.S. teammate Michael Phelps told NBC Olympics.

Ryan Lochte, Katie Ledecky make guest appearances in Michael Phelps' latest Facebook broadcast

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"I'm in shock every time. I want to see her swim. Whether I'm warming down or anything, I'm gonna quit doing what I'm doing just to watch her swim because watching her gives me chills. She does something unbelievable every time." - Five-time gold medalist and U.S. teammate Ryan Lochte told SwimSwam.

"Katie doing what she's doing from the 100 to the 800 and the mile -- I don't know anyone who is not inspired by that. For what it's worth, it's fun to see that, but also to ride that momentum that she creates." - U.S. teammate Nathan Adrian told USA Swimming

Olympic experience

Ledecky's single Olympic appearance was at the 2012 London Games, where she won a gold medal in her only event, the 800m freestyle.

Outside the pool

Ledecky committed to Stanford University, but will defer a year to train for the Olympics with coach Bruce Gemmell. Leading up to the Games, Ledecky took classes at Georgetown near her hometown of Bethesda, Md., and worked on getting her driver's license.

Ledecky finds time away from swimiming to participate in various volunteer activities, including serving meals to the homeless, repairing bicycles for developing countries and raising awareness and funds to build clean water wells.

Social media

Twitter: @KatieLedecky

Instagram: @KLedecky

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