Katie Ledecky with one of her gold medals.

Most 19 year olds have spent their summer being 19 year olds, while Katie Ledecky has spent hers making herself an international superstar. Katie comes from a family of swimmers and so was encouraged to start swimming at a young age; she went on to compete for her high school in Maryland before she made the U.S. Olympic team in 2012 aged just 15 years old. In London she burst onto the scene in a big way.

She qualified for the 800 meter freestyle final and won the race in the second fastest time of all-time (she broke the American record for this race that had stood for 23 years). At the World Championships the following year she won four gold medals where she also set two new world records. She did even better at the World Championships in 2015 where she won five medals and broke three world records.

Expectations were high for Katie prior to going to Rio and she more than lived up to them. She won five medals in total (four gold) and became the first person in 48 years to win the so-called 200-400-800 treble. She also won gold in the 4 x 200 meter freestyle relay as well as silver in the 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay. As well as an impressive medal haul Katie managed to set new world records in the 400 meter freestyle and the 800 meter freestyle.

With Michael Phelps announcing his retirement from swimming following this year’s Olympics, Katie is already being lined up as his replacement. Experts from across the world have stated that there’s more to come from Katie and that she could achieve Usain Bolt like superstardom. For now though she is a normal 19 year old about to embark on her college education – in September she will begin attending Stanford, a top university with the best swim program in the United States.

-Michelle O’Brien
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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