Childhood & Early Life
Katie Ledecky was born on March 17, 1997, in Washington D.C., to Mary Gen (née Hagan) and David Ledecky. She has an older brother named Michael who swam for the Harvard University. Her uncle is Jon Ledecky, the owner of New York Islanders.
Her paternal grandfather, Jaromír Ledecký, was a Czech immigrant who came to the United States in 1947. Her paternal grandmother was Jewish. Ledecky’s own mother is of Irish ancestry. Ledecky is a devout Catholic.
At the age of six, Ledecky started taking swimming lessons after getting inspired by her brother and her mother, who, during her time at the University of New Mexico, used to swim as well.
She studied at Little Flower School in Bethesda, Maryland before attending Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart. While in high school, she registered the American and US Open record in the 500-yard freestyle as well as broke the high school record for the 200-yard freestyle.
In the summer of 2012, she started training at the Nation's Capital Swim Club, where initially her coach was Yuri Suguiyama. After Yuri Suguiyama left the club, she began training under coach Bruce Gemmell, who would later guide her through the 2016 Summer Olympics.
After graduating in 2015, she enrolled at the Stanford University on a swimming scholarship. She is part of coach Greg Meehan's Stanford Cardinal women's swimming team.
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Katie Ledecky took the first place in the 800-meter freestyle at the 2012 United States Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska. In the same trial, she also got the third place in the 400-meter freestyle and the ninth place in the 200-meter freestyle. In the 2012 Olympics, she was the youngest American participant.
In the 2012 Summer Olympics, She made it to the final of the 800-meter freestyle after taking third place overall in the qualifying rounds. In the final round, she surprised everyone by clocking an impressive 8:14.63 and grabbing the gold by four seconds.
That win earned her the first international medal of her career and brought her several recognitions, including the 2012 Best Female Performance of the Year and Breakout Performer of the Year at the Golden Goggle Awards.
After finishing first in the 400-, 800- and 1500-meter freestyle, she qualified for those events and the 4×200-meter freestyle relay at the 2013 World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona, Spain. She had also qualified for the 200-meter freestyle by taking the second place, but later withdrew from the event.
Ledecky went on to win gold medals in all the competitions she participated in the World Championships and in the process, broke several American and world records, including the world record in the 1500-meter freestyle by clocking 15:36.53.
Ledecky bettered her own records in the 800- and 1500-meter freestyle at the 2014 Woodlands Swim Team Senior Invitational in June that year. She then took part in the US National Championships. Her performance qualified her for both the 2014 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships and the 2015 World Aquatics Championships.
After setting a world record in the 400-meter freestyle, she became the first female athlete since Janet Evans to fold world records in the 400-, 800-, and 1500-meter freestyles.
She registered five gold medal wins and two world records at the 2014 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Gold Coast, Australia. The gold medals were for the 200-, 400-, 800-, and 1500-meter freestyles and the 4×200-meter freestyle relay.
She created world records in the 400- and 1500-meter freestyles, clocking 3:58.37 and 15:28.36, respectively. Her medals effectively made her the first female athlete in history to win four individual gold medals at a single Pan Pacific Championship.
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Ledecky continued her stellar form at the 2015 World Aquatics Championships in Kazan, Russia. She won five gold medals there as well and set up three records. Her gold medals were in the usual events, 200-, 400-, 800-, and 1500-meter freestyles and the 4×200-meter freestyle relay.
She made the records in the 800-meter freestyle with a time of 8:07.39 and in the 1500-meter freestyle with a time of 15:27.71. In both these cases, she broke her own records. She is also the first swimmer in history to win gold medals in those events in a major competition.
She bettered her 800-meter freestyle record once more at the 2016 Arena Pro Swim Series at Austin, registering a time of 8:06.68. At the 2016 United States Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska, Ledecky emerged victorious in the 200-, 400- and 800-meter freestyles. She not only qualified for her second Olympics, but was also hailed as the female swimmer of the meet.
At the 2016 Summer Olympics, she won four gold medals and one silver. Her gold medals came in the 200-, 400-, and 800- freestyles and 4×200-meter freestyle relay. She won the silver alongside her US teammates in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay.
She set up a world record in the final of 400-meter freestyle, clocking 3:56.46 and another in the finals of 800-meter freestyle, with the time of 8:04.79. Ledecky is the most decorated female athlete to have participated in single events in the Olympics.
As a freshman at the Stanford University, she broke 12 competition records during 2016-17 NCAA season. She played an instrumental role in Stanford’s first team title win since 1998 at the NCAA Championships in Indianapolis. At the end of the season, she was named the winner of the Honda Cup, becoming the first freshman in 35 years to win the trophy.
At the 2017 World Championships, she won five gold medals: in the 400 meter freestyle with a time of 3:58.34, 800 meter freestyle with a time of 8:12.68, 1500 meter freestyle with a time of 15:31.82, 4×100 meter freestyle with a time of 3:31.72, and 4×200 meter freestyle with a time of 7:43.39. She also won a silver medal in the 200 meter freestyle with a time of 1:55.18.
At the 2018 NCAA Championships, Ledecky registered wins in the 500- and 1650-yard freestyles. She also won the Swimmer of the Meet honours for the second year in the row. at the Pac-12 Championships in Federal Way, after she registered victories in the 500-yard freestyle, 400-yard individual medley, and 200-yard freestyle.
After the 2017-18 NCAA season concluded, Ledecky announced her decision of taking on professional endorsements and sponsorship opportunities.
On May 16, 2018, Ledecky appeared as a professional swimmer for the first time at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Indianapolis, Indiana and went on to set a new record in the 1500-meter freestyle, clocking 15:20.48. Since June, she is signed to Tyr Sport, Inc. on a sponsorship deal.