Ledecky in 2012.
|Full name||Kathleen Genevieve Ledecky|
March 17, 1997 |
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|Weight||155 lb (70 kg)|
|Club||Nation's Capital Swim Club (NCAP)|
Kathleen Genevieve Ledecky (born March 17, 1997) is an American distance swimmer, Olympic gold medalist, and world record holder. She is the current world record holder in the 400-, 800-, and 1500-meter freestyle (long course). She also owns the fastest-ever swims in the 500- and 1650-yard freestyles.
In her international debut at the 2012 Summer Olympics as a 15-year old, Ledecky won the golds in the 800-meter freestyle in what was the second-fastest performance ever. Her triumphant performance was unexpected, and announcers and fans alike were thrilled as they watched this new swimming ingenue. In total, she has won ten medals in major international competitions, all of them gold, spanning the Summer Olympics, the FINA World Championships, and the Pan Pacific Championships. During her career, she has broken seven world records.
Ledecky's success has earned her Swimming World's World Swimmer of the Year and the American Swimmer of the Year awards in 2013 and 2014, as well as the FINA Swimmer of the Year Award in 2013. Ledecky was also named the international female Champion of Champions by L'Équipe in 2014.
Ledecky was born in Washington, D.C., to David Ledecky and Mary Gen Hagan. David Ledecky's father came to the United States from Czechoslovakia in 1947. Her mother swam for the University of New Mexico. Ledecky resides in Bethesda, Maryland, where she attends Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart.
Ledecky began swimming at the age of six, due to the influence of her older brother, Michael. Through the summer of 2012, she trained with the Nation's Capital Swim Club (formerly the Curl Burke Swim Club) under coach Yuri Suguiyama. She continues to train with the Nation's Capital Swim Club under coach Bruce Gemmell. During the summers, she swims for Palisades Swim Team in Bethesda. She has committed to swim for Stanford University in NCAA competition.
2012 Summer Olympic Games
At the 2012 United States Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska, her first major competition, Ledecky made the Olympic team by placing first in the 800-meter freestyle with a time of 8:19.78, which was over two seconds ahead of second-place finisher Kate Ziegler. In Omaha, Ledecky also placed third in the 400-meter freestyle (4:05.00) and ninth in the 200-meter freestyle (1:58.66). Her third-place finish in the 400-meter freestyle was the fastest time ever swum by a 15- to 16-year-old American, breaking the national age-group record previously held by Janet Evans. At 15 years, 4 months, and 10 days, she was the youngest American participant at the 2012 Olympic Games.
At the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Ledecky qualified to swim in the final of the 800-meter freestyle by placing third overall in the heats with a time of 8:23.84. In the final, Ledecky stunned the field, winning gold by more than 4 seconds, with a time of 8:14.63, the then second-fastest effort of all time just behind Rebecca Adlington's world record of 8:14.10 set in 2008. In addition, she broke Janet Evans' American record of 8:16.22 that stood since 1989. In the final, Ledecky went out hard and, by the 200-meter mark, she had already established an almost body-length lead. Her 400-meter split was 4:04.34, a personal best for Ledecky in that distance, and would have placed fifth in the individual 400-meter freestyle. At the 750-meter mark, Ledecky was 3.42 seconds ahead of Mireia Belmonte García, and 0.31 seconds under world record pace. Ledecky won by 4.13 seconds and just missed the world record by 0.53 seconds. Her gold was the first international medal of her career, earning her the 2012 Best Female Performance of the Year and Breakout Performer of the Year at the Golden Goggle Awards.
2013 World Championships
At the 2013 US National Championships, Ledecky qualified to swim in four individual events and the 4×200-meter freestyle relay at the 2013 World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona, though she later dropped the 200-meter freestyle from her program. At the National Championships, she finished first in the 400-, 800- and 1500-meter freestyle, and second in the 200-meter freestyle.
At the 2013 World Championships, Ledecky won gold in the 400-, 800-, and 1500-meter freestyle, and in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay, and set two world records. In winning the 400 through 1500-meter titles, she became the second woman ever to win the events in a World Championships since German Hannah Stockbauer in 2003. In her first event in Barcelona, the 400-meter freestyle, Ledecky became a world champion for the first time by winning in 3:59.82, setting a new American record and becoming the second-fastest performer of all time in the event.
In her second event, Ledecky won gold in the 1500-meter freestyle in a world record time of 15:36.53, breaking the record held by compatriot Kate Ziegler by six seconds. In what was a hard-fought race with Dane Lotte Friis, Ledecky overcame Friis in the final few hundred meters after losing the lead at the 300-meter mark, which included a final 50 split of 29.47.
In her third, and first relay, event of her international career, the 4x200-meter freestyle, Ledecky and teammates Shannon Vreeland, Karlee Bispo, and Missy Franklin won gold in 7:45.14. Anchor Missy Franklin overtook Australian Alicia Coutts in the last 200 meters, giving the US the gold. Ledecky provided the US with an early lead, swimming the first leg in a personal best of 1:56.32.
In her fourth and last event, the 800-meter freestyle, Ledecky won gold in a world record of 8:13.86, bettering Rebecca Adlington's world record of 8:14.10. Much like the 1500-meter freestyle, Ledecky let Lotte Friis lead most of the race, making a move at the 650-meter mark to eventually win the race by 2.46 seconds.
Ledecky scored more points than any other swimmer to earn the FINA trophy for best female swimmer of the meet.
At year's end, Ledecky was named the World Swimmer of the Year and American Swimmer of the Year by Swimming World Magazine. She was also named the best female swimmer for 2013 by FINA Aquatics World Magazine.
Ledecky began the year by breaking her own world records in the 800- and 1500-meter freestyle at the 2014 Woodlands Swim Team Senior Invitational in June. Despite being in season and swimming multiple events, Ledecky was able to first break the world record in the 1500-meter freestyle with a time of 15:34.23, bettering her previous mark of 15:36.53. Three days later, Ledecky then broke the world record in the 800-meter freestyle with a time of 8:11.00, bettering her previous mark of 8:13.86.
At the 2014 US National Championships, the qualifying meet for both the 2014 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships and the 2015 World Aquatics Championships, Ledecky finished first in the 200-, 400-, and 800-meter freestyle. In the 400-meter freestyle, Ledecky set her third world record of the year by breaking Federica Pellegrini's 2009 world record of 3:59.15 with a time of 3:58.86.
Pan Pacific Championships
At the 2014 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Gold Coast, Australia, Ledecky won five gold medals and broke two worlds records. Her wins came in the 200-, 400-, 800-, and 1500-meter freestyle and the 4x200-meter freestyle. Ledecky almost broke the world record in the 800-meter freestyle, finishing with a time of 8:11.35. Her world records came in the 400- and 1500-meter freestyles, with times of 3:58.37 and 15:28.36, respectively.
In the 200-meter freestyle final, Ledecky had over a half-second lead on the field at the half way point before winning by 1.46 seconds with a meet record time of 1:55.74. Less than an hour later, Ledecky won the 800-meter freestyle, swimming under her world record pace for most of the race before touching in at 8:11.35, the second-fastest time ever, to win by 7.52 seconds over New Zealand swimmer Lauren Boyle.
The next day, Ledecky added her third meet record by anchoring the American 4x200-meter freestyle relay to a comeback win over Australia. Ledecky erased a 1.2-second deficit going into the final leg of the race, passing Australia's Melanie Schlanger with a 1:54.36 split over the final 200 meters.
On the third day of the meet, Ledecky set her fourth meet record in the 400-meter freestyle prelim heats with a time of 4:03.09. That night, Ledecky lowered the record again, setting the first world record ever at the new Gold Coast Aquatic Center with a time of 3:58.37. Ledecky's winning time was over six seconds quicker than American teammate and silver medalist Cierra Runge.
On the meet's final day, Ledecky set her fifth world record of the year, lowering her record in the 1500-meter freestyle by nearly six seconds with at time of 15:28.36. Ledecky swam the second half of the race faster than the first, completing the final 800 meters in 8:14.11--faster than any other woman has completed a regular 800-meter race in a textile suit. Ledecky lapped three competitors in the final and finished 27.33 seconds ahead of silver medalist Boyle.
During the championships' closing ceremonies, Ledecky was named the female swimmer of the meet.
- As of January 15, 2015.