London 2012, US Olympic Swimming: 5 Things About 15-Year-Old Katie Ledecky

Blake Dorfman@blakedorfmanFeatured ColumnistJuly 9, 2012

London 2012, US Olympic Swimming: 5 Things About 15-Year-Old Katie Ledecky

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    To be 15 and the nation's best swimmer in the 800-meter freestyle is just crazy.

    Katie Ledecky, a high school sophomore, has done just that and will be one of the most intriguing stories heading into the London Olympics. The Maryland native won the event at the Olympic Trials by over two seconds and is eyeing a trip to the medal stand before she can legally drive.

    Here are five things to know about her.

5. On the Day She Was Born

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    March 17, 1997, is when Ledecky came into the world. How old were you?

    On that day, Puff Daddy and Mase were atop the charts with "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down."

    People were yelling "Show me the money!" as Jerry Maguire was second to Absolute Power in box office sales.

    Kobe Bryant, who still has some years to go in his NBA career, was already hooping it up for the Lakers.  

4. She's a Bit Overwhelmed

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    Not many 15-year-olds are media savvy, but Ledecky's Yahoo! interview with Summer Sanders showed that she is in unknown territory when it comes to this much attention.

    Sanders was trying to get any kind of interesting personal tidbit out of her, but got nowhere. Ledecky said she was not into many "pop 15-year-old things" and her voice was shaky the whole way through.

    This is obviously overwhelming for her. Her interview skills, just like her swimming times, will almost certainly improve as she moves forward. 

3. She Is a Fast Starter

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    Look for Ledecky to be lightning quick at the start of her races in London.

    At the Trials, she was close to world-record pace in the first half of her race and still finished strong enough to set a meet record of 8 minutes, 19.78 seconds.

    “I haven't seen my splits yet, but I don't think I was supposed to go out that fast. I wasn't planning to go out that fast,” she said in her interview following the race.

2. She's Inexperienced at the Top Level

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    Of course she's inexperienced. She's only 15.

    However, Olympians Missy Franklin had already competed internationally at 15 and Elizabeth Beisel had World Championships experience under her belt at that age.

    Ledecky, meanwhile, has been largely kept away from the highest levels of competition by coach Yuri Suguiyama. She swam in the Junior Nationals rather than the Senior Nationals last year.

    As noted by Davis Wuolle of, she may be "almost too new to be afraid of the competition." That could work in her favor. 

1. She Can Win Gold

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    Ledecky's time in Omaha ranks second in the world this year behind Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain. The difference between their two times is less than two seconds and, if Ledecky paces herself properly, it's a gap she can close.

    Fellow American Kate Ziegler is over two seconds behind the youngster for the world's third-best time in 2012.  

    Ledecky has the physical ability. Now we need to see how she holds up on the sport's biggest stage.