I don’t know if you’ve been keeping track, but the Summer Olympics are nearly two months away. After being pushed from last summer to this summer, athletes from all over the world will be heading to Tokyo, Japan to compete for their country in a number of sports.
While the Olympics always introduces us to breakout talent, it’s also an opportunity to be reacquainted with previous stars. One of those stars — who had their breakout during the 2012 Olympics in London — is swimmer Katie Ledecky. Now preparing to compete in her third Olympics, Ledecky has cemented herself as one of the best competitors in her sport.
But, even though she’s been around for quite some time, there’s still so much to know about the 24-year-old phenom. From where she grew up to breaking countless records, here are a few fun facts you should know about the swimmer:
Ledecky was born in Washington, D.C., but she was raised right outside of the city in Bethesda, Maryland. She began swimming at the age of six because she wanted to be like her older brother, Michael, and her mom, Mary, who swam collegiately at the University of New Mexico.
While in high school at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, Ledecky set the American and US Open record in the 500-yard freestyle twice. In fact, she graduated high school with the record in every single swimming event except for the 100-meter breaststroke. I wonder who holds that record!
Before deciding to pursue swimming professionally, Ledecky decided to swim at Stanford University for two years. During her time there, Ledecky led Stanford to two NCAA championships and broke 12 NCAA records as a freshman.
Despite deciding to go professional in 2018, Ledecky decided to continue pursuing her college degree. In fact, she graduated with a degree in psychology in December 2020.
As mentioned above, Ledecky made her Olympics debut at just 15 years old back in 2012. She competed in the 800-meter freestyle and stunned everyone when she won the gold medal by more than four seconds. While four seconds may not seem like a lot, in a swimming race it’s considered a massive lead.
Ledecky became the most decorated female athlete in a single Summer Olympic Games when she won four gold medals and one bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. In fact, she topped fellow swimmer Missy Franklin’s 2012 haul of four gold medals and one bronze. Only gymnast Simon Biles and swimmer Amy Van Dyken have also won four gold medals.
Ledecky was also the second most decorated Olympian at the 2016 Olympics, finishing just behind Michael Phelps who won five gold medals and one silver.
For the first time in Olympics history, female swimmers will be able to compete in the 1500m freestyle. Since Ledecky is a long-distance swimmer, she is planning to compete in this event and hopes to add another medal to her growing collection.