Katie Ledecky swam to gold at London 2012 at the age of 15
Now 19, she's the youngest member of the U.S. swim team heading to Rio
She sets goals – and reaches them. Sets records – and beats them. Simple as that.
But Katie Ledecky is far from simple.
The swimmer amazed the world at the London 2012 Olympics by recording the second fastest 800 meter time in history and winning the gold as a 15-year-old.
In the four years since, the American has continued to amaze herself and her family by setting 11 world records and winning every major international race she has competed in.
When asked “what is fear,” she giggles and responds, “I don’t know…. never heard of it!”
She swims with power and beauty. Not fear.
Ledecky’s passion comes from within and her enjoyment of the sport can be seen before, during and after she races.
After beating her own world record in a routine qualifying round, she jokingly shrugged – as if it was by accident.
“It’s always just been a sport that I’ve enjoyed and that’s what it still is for me even at the Olympic stage, the world stage,” the now 19-year-old told CNN.
“It’s something I started just for recreation … and in some ways that’s what it still is in my mind. Just seeing how fast I can get up and down the pool a couple times.”
Ledecky comes from a supportive home with two supportive parents, as well as an older brother who is a recent Harvard graduate.
Despite her accomplishments, this extraordinary teen still considers herself ordinary.
“I’ve been lucky to have some really great people around me between my family and my teachers, my coaches, my classmates, everybody. I feel really blessed to have lived in a great community and they’ve helped me keep it ordinary I guess.”
Ledecky may be quick to credit her support system, but she also admits to using secret tactics to keep herself striving towards her dreams.
As a child she would write down her goals on the wall until she achieved them. Today she has a similar strategy.
“I have some goals that I’ve written and shared with my coach that I’ve had for the past couple years focusing on this year,” she admits. “I’ve been working towards those and hopefully I’ll reach them this summer in Rio.”
When asked about her goals, she sheepishly explains: “I’d rather not share them specifically, but there are some time goals and some other performance goals that I want to try and reach.”
Out of the water, she holds a keen interest in politics and is excited about voting for the first time in the forthcoming U.S. presidential election. Still unable to drive, Ledecky admits she’s held off on getting her license to embrace spending extra time with her parents.
“They’re always willing to drive and I’m happy that I haven’t gotten my license yet because that time in the car that I have with them driving to and from practice is valuable,” she said.
And when the Olympics are finished, she has a lot to look forward to. Ledecky starts school at Stanford in the fall.
“I wanted to compete in the NCAA and I wanted to get a really good education, and I can’t go wrong with Stanford,” she said. “I think I’m going to have a blast there with some of my best friends on the swim team.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, so it’s something I didn’t want to pass up.”