Katie Ledecky makes big splash in Bethesda area


Bryce Auster, Sports Editors

In high school Katie Ledecky was just like everyone else. She went to school, did her schoolwork, went to her swim practices and cheered on her teammates during meets. What was different about her was that, by her freshman year, she had won a gold medal during the 2012 Olympic games in London. She has since added four more gold medals in 2016. When most people look at athletes on a professional or olympic level, they believe what they are doing is impossible.

Unless they are highly touted athletes themselves, they believe those achievements are unattainable. What Ledecky has done seems like something dreamt by any high school student, and most people watching at home would be wondering how she could be dominating other swimmers who are the best in their countries. Even though she has accomplished so much her last two Olympics, people in her community still view her as the enthusiastic, hardworking, extremely nice girl who roamed the hallways of Stone Ridge School for the Sacred Heart.

“Most of the time if you walked through the hallway you wouldn’t know who she was” Head of upper school at Stone Ridge Malcolm McCluskey said.

Even though Ledecky won her first gold at the age of 15, it did not change she viewed herself. She was very quiet and didn’t want to draw attention to the fact that she was an Olympic champion.
“[Katie] didn’t really talk about the Olympics unless you asked her because she didn’t want to feel like she was over sharing or showing off to anyone” her teammate and friend Emily Deale said.
Apart from the girls in the lower school, who were very excited that they saw Ledecky every day, she was treated the same as every other student. She didn’t become a different person because of her success on the Olympic stage.

“Katie is the most down to earth person I know,” Deale said. “Katie stayed the same. Sometimes people would come up for pictures or autographs but that didn’t change how Katie acted around her friends, teammates [and] peers.”
Ledecky’s success had a huge impact on her other classmates and friends. The goals that she set for herself made the people around her better.

“Katie set such high goals, the people who surrounded her would in turn be inspired to be better versions of themselves,” Deale said.
When Ledecky would swim during practice she would swim in the lanes designated for the faster swimmers. Her speed in the water led to her breaking many records which are displayed on the wall in the aquatics building. This has had a profound effect on every student who walked in for swim practice, both on the club level and Stone Ridge.

“There has to be some glimmer in their heads…of what she’s done and the example she’s set.” Said head age group coach of All Star Aquatics club team, Denise Adams.” …It makes you feel much more connected to your sport knowing that this is where they walked or this where they practiced, and this is where they were leaders”
Swimming Director Bob Walker coached Ledecky for four years, he saw Ledecky as everyone else did and felt that she had a large effect on the community.

“I think it’s inspired a lot of people not only girls in our school but a lot of people in the area to see someone so successful in the sport,” he said.
Ledecky’s achievements could seem a little less difficult to accomplish to people who grew up around her. She inspired kids and adults alike to achieve their goals, even though Ledecky has affected people throughout the country, her community could be where she has made her largest imprint.