With five Olympic gold medals and 11 world records at the age of 19, swimmer Katie Ledecky has splashed water in the face of civilians everywhere– America has been awakened. Having recently graduated high school (Stone Ridge class of ‘15), Ledecky has managed to accomplish unbelievable things and maintain a steady academic and social life on top of all that. The teenage star entered the limelight at age 15 when she went to the 2012 Olympic trials and, four years later, has received an athletic scholarship to Stanford University. As the young champion continues to climb the mountain of success, she is close to our hearts– it’s easy for one to forget that she’s just another teenager from the DMV, like you and me.
Ledecky was born in Washington DC in 1997 but later moved to Bethesda, Maryland. She grew up there and attended Little Flower School, followed by Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart. On top of a dense swim practice schedule, Ledecky took her academics very seriously. “She always tried her best and always cared about her classes,” her close high school friend, Emily Deale, says in a text message. “She would leave everyday right after school to go to practice and she would have morning practices two or three times a week.” Ledecky had started her swimming career when was six. When high school came along, she began setting nationwide records and soon became publicly recognized.
At 10 years old, Ledecky was having five to six workouts a week. That year she attended the Junior Olympics. When she was 11 and 12, she had six to seven workouts a week, and went to multiple competitions. From 13-14 years old, she was having seven to eight workouts a week, and at 15 years old Ledecky was going to nine workouts a week. She was training with the Nation’s Capital Swim Club at this point.
Just like any teenager, Ledecky did her best to maintain friendships and academics throughout high school. “She was definitely busy so it was hard for her to come to all of our hangouts…but she always came when she could,” Deale says. “She’s a very loyal friend and really cares about her friends.” Ledecky attended as many school events as she could.
As one would imagine, the 2016 Rio Olympics called for a whole new plethora of intense training. Ledecky was waking up at 4:05 AM to be driven by her dad (evidently, she doesn’t have the time to get her license right now) to her daily morning practice at the Georgetown Prep pool which would last until 6:30 AM. At 11 AM, she was heading to a Bethesda Health Club for dryland practice. Later, at 3:30 PM, she goes back to Prep for more in-pool training. Throughout the day, Ledecky ate an abundance of healthy carbs and protein-rich food. Ledecky’s diet is sans-junk food–meaning no after-school moves to Chick-fil-a or Domino’s, even if she had the free-time for it. This diet was specific to her Olympic training, however it’s more than likely that her current/regular diet is the same. To train for the 2016 Olympics, she chose to put a pause on her college education– she graduated high school in the spring of 2015, but deferred a year from Stanford University. She plans to attend starting this fall.
Managing all the ever-so-familiar responsibilities of being a teenager in addition to taking plentiful wins as a successful Olympian, student-athlete Katie Ledecky has truly taken “hard work pays off” to a new level– or should I say podium?
PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA