PHOENIX, Arizona, July 9. CONTINUING with the distance theme, today Swimming World profiles Team USA's women's 800 freestyle contenders. This duo consists of youngster Katie Ledecky and veteran 2008 Olympian Kate Ziegler.
Katie Ledecky just finished her freshman year of high school at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, MD. While most 15-year-olds spend their break procrastinating a summer reading list, Ledecky will instead be heading to London to represent Team USA in the 800 meter freestyle.
Ledecky began her swimming career at age 6 for the Palisades Porpoises. She currently trains at Curl-Burke Bethesda under coach Yuri Suguiyama, who was featured in Swimming World Magazine's May 2012 Training segment.
2012 seems like the year of improvement for Ledecky, who made a serious splash at the Charlotte UltraSwim Grand Prix in May by winning the 800 meter freestyle with a time of 8:25.85.
Going into Trials, Ledecky told ESPN HS sports that she “…want[s] to make finals in at least one event, hopefully two or three.”
Well, Ledecky certainly exceeded her personal expectations in Omaha. Although she didn't initially qualify for the Olympic team after placing third in the 400 freestyle, she did manage to break Janet Evan's 24-year-old 15-16 age group record in the same event. Talk about a nice consolation prize.
She followed up this record with a dominant performance in the 800 meter freestyle final, clocking a time of 8:19.78. This ranks her time second fastest in the world this year, only to British swimmer Rebecca Adlington.
Second place in Omaha went to Kate Ziegler, whom Ledecky has followed from a young age.
“I've always looked up to (Ziegler),” Ledecky told Yahoo! Sports. “She's an amazing athlete and I have pictures with her when I was little, so this is just amazing to be here with her and go to London with her.”
Due to NBC rights holder restrictions, the following video interview is only viewable until 7/27/2012:
Since her 2008 Beijing Olympic appearance, 24-year-old Kate Ziegler has had an interesting four years. The Great Falls, VA native left longtime coach Ray Benecki of The Potomac Valley Fish in 2010 for a stint to train with Hall of Fame coach Jon Urbanchek at FAST in California.
“The last four years have been a little bit of a roller coaster ride,” Ziegler tells The Republic. “But it's been a really good journey.”
In 2007, Ziegler made news when she broke Janet Evan's 1988 world record in the 1500 meter freestyle by almost ten seconds. She qualified for the 2008 Olympic team in the 400 and 800 meter freestyle events, but failed to final in either event in Beijing.
At the 2011 World Championships, Ziegler earned silver in 1500m free and bronze in the 800m free.
After placing second behind Ledecky at trials, with a time of 8:21.87, a smiling Ziegler told Swimming World “…As long as there was a 1 or a 2 by my name, I knew I'd be happy.”
Finals of the Women's 800 meter freestyle are set to air from London on August 3.
Written and posted by Shoshanna Rutemiller