Stanford commit Katie Ledecky won five gold medals for Team USA at the 2015 World Championships held in Kazan, Russia. Ledecky also became the first person to win the 200-, 400-, 800- and 1500-meter freestyle events.
In just seven days of competition, the 18-year-old from Bethesda, Maryland also broke world records in two events — the 800- and 1500-meter freestyle.
In addition, after swimming a 15:27.71 in the prelims and 15:25.48 in the finals, Ledecky now holds the top five times in the history of the 1500-meter event.
Her 8:07.39 in the 800-meter race also broke her own world-best mark, while her time in the 400-meter free set a record for the World Championships.
While Ledecky has always been known for her prowess in long-distance swimming, her recent achievements have shown off her versatility. In addition to her world records, Ledecky won gold in the 200- and 400-meter freestyle as well as the 4×200-meter freestyle relay, in which she swam the quickest leg — and the anchor — for Team USA.
Her successes in the long-distance events may have been expected, but Ledecky was the clear underdog in her other three races, most notably the 200-meter freestyle.
Joining Ledecky in that event’s final were fellow USA swimmer Missy Franklin and Italian swimmer Federica Pelligrini, both of whom were frontrunners for gold.
After getting off to a relatively slow start, Ledecky charged ahead in the final 100 meters of the race to beat Pelligrini by 0.16 seconds, with a time of 1:55.16 to get first place.
The feat was quite ridiculous — it was the equivalent of having a marathon runner beat Usain Bolt in a 200-meter sprint. And better yet, her total margin of victory in her four individual events was nearly 30 seconds.
Her performance in Kazan solidified Ledecky’s presence as a force to be reckoned with for the next decade. The scariest part of it is that Ledecky is only 18 and will likely be better in the years to come.
Ledecky decided to defer her enrollment to Stanford until 2016 so she can train for the Rio Olympics next summer. It’s safe to say that she will be an invaluable asset for the United States in the Olympics and eventually for Stanford’s squad, which finished third in the nation last season.
Contact Ethan Teo at ethanteo99 ‘at’ gmail.com.