The 19-year-old American is building a legend of her own, capping her Rio Olympics with a stunning win in the women's 800-meter freestyle Friday night. Stunning not for the fact that she won, but in how she did it.
Toward the end of the eight-lap race the television cameras had to pull back so viewers could see Ledecky's competitors. Ledecky broke her own world record with a time of 8:04.79 and finished a staggering 11 seconds ahead of second place finisher, Jazmin Carlin from Great Britain.
"I hit all my goals right on the nose this week, and I couldn't be happier with how this week has gone," she said, according to the Washington Post.
Ledecky has five gold medals, having added a quartet this year in addition to a gold in London in the 800 free. And if the IOC let women swim the 1,500 meters like the men do, she'd have one more gold.
She'll leave Rio having set two world records.
One more impressive fact about Ledecky -- she is 14 for 14 in individual events at major international competitions.
Phelps final individual race
It just seemed weird. There was Michael Phelps trailing in his last individual race in the Olympics.
It became apparent with about 25 meters to go he wasn't going to win. Whether he would medal was in doubt. And he almost didn't.
One day after two swimmers tied for gold, three swimmers, including Phelps, tied for silver
. One more hundredth of a second and any of them would have been fourth.
Joseph Schooling won the race, earning the first ever gold for Singapore.
Phelps won the 27th medal of his Olympics career, touching with the same time as South Africa's Chad le Clos and Laszlo Cseh of Hungary.
He has one more race left, a relay leg on Saturday.
The other two medal races Friday were won by Americans. Anthony Ervin became the oldest Olympic swimming champion with gold in the men's 50-meter freestyle and Maya Dirado earned her first gold of the Rio Games in the women's 200-meter breaststroke.
The United States women had never failed to medal in Olympics soccer. Shoot, they had won four of the five tournaments. And their fans assumed they would bring home gold again.
Sweden, coached by Pia Sundhage, played the US to a 1-1 draw, then won the penalty kick shootout in a quarterfinal match
The final blow was Lisa Dahlkvist calmly slotting the last penalty kick past US goalie Hope Solo.
Solo is a great goalie, but a bit of a bad loser. She told reporters that Sweden had played like cowards. The better team lost, she said.
Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl reported that Solo went on to criticize the way Sundhage, who coached the US to the past two Olympic titles, had her side play.
"Losing sucks. I'm really bad at it," Solo tweeted.
"It is OK to be a coward if you win," Sundhage said.
One really fast 10K
It was a distance performance that was startling. The woman in the lead was far ahead of her competitors and world record pace.
She confidently kept racing, her split times amazing.
We're not still talking about Katie Ledecky. The woman in this race was Ethiopia's Almaz Ayana, who smashed the decades-old mark in the 10,000 meters
"This means everything for me," Ayana said, according to the International Association of Athletics Federations website. "I never thought that this would happen, and I'm so in awe. I'm very happy to get here."
Ayana finished in 29:17.45, 14 seconds faster than the record set in 1993 (when Ayana was 2). The other competitors were fast too, Seven set national records, and the other medalists recorded the third and fourth fastest times ever in the event.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Ayana was asked about doping. She credited her practice habits and God.
"My doping is my training and my doping is Jesus," she said via a translator. "Nothing otherwise, I am crystal clear."
Cycling hero finishes with record
Bradley Wiggins used to make a lot of money riding his bicycle on the roads of the world, competing in the Grand Tours, winning the Tour de France.
But he gave that up, deciding to spend his final competitive years riding just on the track. On Friday, he and his Great Britain teammates set a world record in a pulsating men's pursuit final victory over Australia.
"I wanted it to end like this," he said
. "Not some crappy little race in northern France -- Paris-Tours -- climbing off in the feed zone. It's brilliant."
Wiggins, the Tour de France winner four years ago, will retire with eight Olympics medals, five of them gold. That makes him the most-decorated athlete from Great Britain and the cyclist with the most medals ever.
"This is the best gold medal of them all," the 31-year-old said.
Gold medal roundup
Winners of the other medal finals Friday:
Archery, Men's Individual -- Ku Bon-chan, South Korea
Athletics, Men's 20-kilomter Race Walk -- Wang Zhen, China
Athletics, Women's Shot Put -- Michelle Carter, United States
Equestrian, Team Dressage -- Germany
Fencing, Men's Team Foil -- Russia
Judo, Men's 100 or more kilograms -- Teddy Riner, France
Judo, Women's 78 or more kilograms -- Emilie Andeol
Rowing, Men's Fours -- Great Britain
Rowing, Men's Lightweight Double Sculls -- France
Rowing, Women's Lightweight Double Sculls -- the Netherlands
Rowing, Women's Pairs -- Great Britain
Shooting, Men's 50-meter Prone Rifle -- Henri Junghaenel, Germany
Shooting, Women's Skeet -- Diana Bacosi, Italy
Tennis, Men's Doubles -- Spain
Track Cycling, Women's Team Sprint -- China
Track Cycling, Men's Team Pursuit -- Great Britain
Trampoline Gymnastics, Women -- Rosannagh MacLennan, Canada
Weightlifting, Men's 85 kilograms -- Kianoush Rostami, Iran
Weightlifting, Women's 75 kilograms -- Rim Jong-sim, North Korea