Twenty-one-year-old Kathleen “Katie” Ledecky is a five-time Olympic gold medalist in swimming who has broken both American and world records since she began her career in 2012.
Ledecky joined the competitive swimming scene in the 2012 Olympics where she made her talent known to the world by winning a gold medal in the 800 freestyle and breaking the American record with a time of 8:14.63.
The following year, Ledecky set a world record in the 800 and 1500, as well as an American record in the 400 at the FINA World Championship. She won four gold medals overall in that competition.
During the 1500 event, Ledecky broke the previous record by a shocking six seconds in a head-to-head battle against Lotte Friis of Denmark.
Then, in 2014 at the Pan Pacific Championships, Ledecky won five gold medals in multiple swimming events. She also set a new world record in the 400 freestyle at the US Summer Nationals that same year.
She also won multiple gold medals in the 2015 World Championship where she annihilated her own 400 world record.
The 2016 Olympics was another amazing performance for Ledecky, winning four gold medals and one silver medal throughout the competition. She won the 400, breaking her own previous world record, and was an entire 11 seconds ahead of the second place finisher.
Freshman Navya Sharma says, “I remember seeing her when I was watching the Olympics in 2016 and being super surprised. Katie Ledecky was pretty young, but she was really fast and beat everyone else to the gold.”
Ledecky also won five gold medals and one silver at the 2017 FINA World Championship.
But how did Katie Ledecky come to rise up as a prominent athlete in the competitive swimming world?
Ledecky was born on March 17, 1997 in Bethesda, Maryland to Mary and David Ledecky. Her older brother, Micheal, was a swimmer himself, and he gave her the inspiration to begin her swimming career. She began competitive swimming at age six.
From ages 10 to 15, Ledecky received her coaching from Yuri Suguiyama, who taught her how to use foot movements and strokes to move faster. Suguiyama showed her methods that were more commonly used by male swimmers and took much more physical effort, but those methods ultimately paid off.
During the fall of 2012, Bruce Gemmel took over her coaching. Gemmel noticed that Ledecky had no physical features to suggest that she was as good of a swimmer as she was. Instead, it was Ledecky’s drive and unbreakable willpower have gotten her this far and have never failed her in the pool.
Freshman Shannen Woo says, “I try to stay up-to-date with swimming, and I always see Katie Ledecky’s name on some new world record or gold medal. Every time I think she can’t get any better, she does anyway.”
Ledecky has earned titles such as the 2013 FINA Female Athlete of the Year and the 2012-13 Female Olympic SportsWoman of the Year by the U.S. Olympic Committee.
What are your thoughts on Katie Ledecky’s career and successes?