Katie Ledecky: 800m World Record Holder Hopes To Draw On Experience At Second Olympic Games

Swimmer Katie Ledecky has gained an overwhelming amount of experience and dominance since she won the 800-meter freestyle at the 2012 Olympic Games.

But still, some things never change.

For example, at the 2012 Olympics, Katie Ledecky was the youngest member of the United States team. Now 19-years-old, Ledecky will still be the youngest member of Team USA Swimming heading to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Even so, the 800-meter world record-holder believes she has something to offer in the way of experience and leadership.

“I’m still the youngest Olympic as of now on the team, which is kind of funny because I do have a lot more experience than I did four years ago, and I was the youngest on the team then,” Ledecky said during a press conference after she won the 800 freestyle at the 2016 Olympic swimming trials. “Hopefully I can bring a little bit of something to the team and I can help out some of the people who are going to their first Olympics.”

The 2016 Olympic swimming trials have seen a plethora of young swimmers qualify for their first Olympic Games. In fact, NBC commentators Rowdy Gaines and Dan Hicks have continually commented on the “changing of the guard” taking place in swimming, as many of the veteran swimmers missed out on spots grabbed by those first-time Olympians.

When she was headed to her first Olympic Games in 2012, 800-meter world record-holder Katie Ledecky said she felt most prepared after some of the more experience Olympians shared the things they had learned in previous Olympics. Ledecky hopes she can do the same for the first-timers ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“(I can) just tell them what it will be like,” Ledecky said during the press conference. “That’s how I felt really prepared going into 2012 because all the veterans and people that had been there before shared everything they had learned from past Olympics.”

Ahead of the 2016 Rio Games, Ledecky faces huge expectations from fans and media outlets alike. On Saturday, Ledecky qualified for the 800 freestyle in dominating fashion, finishing in a time of 8:10.32. The time, which was good for the third-fastest time in history, put Katie nearly 10 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Leah Smith.

In addition, the time allows Ledecky to lay claim to the 10 fastest 800-meter freestyle times in history.

Before the 800 freestyle finals race, Ledecky said that a clip of her 2012 win was featured on the jumbotron in the CenturyLink Center where the swimming trials were being held in Omaha, Nebraska. She was able to take a minute to appreciate how far she’s come since then, she said.

“They were showing a clip of that race from four years ago and I was watching and I was like ‘My stroke is really different from what it was then. Oh, my turns are terrible.’ It was just kind of cool to look back and see how much I’ve improved over the last four years,” Ledecky said during the press conference. “The time shows that I think. I’ve improved a lot since London, and that’s the goal this time as well.”

Since her surprise win at the 2012 Olympic Games, Ledecky has repeatedly been called the most dominant athlete in the world — even ahead of Ronda Rousey in her prime. Throughout the past four years, Ledecky has been nearly untouchable in the longer freestyle events.

In Rio de Janeiro, Ledecky will have an opportunity to establish that dominance even further, as she’s qualified for the Olympic team in the 200-, 400- and 800-meter freestyle events. She is expected to participate in the 4×200-meter relay, as well.

Admittedly, the expectations are high going into the 2016 Olympics, but that doesn’t bother Ledecky.

“I’m just going to focus on my racing and what my goals are, and anybody else’s expectations don’t really mean that much to me,” Ledecky said. “I want to do what (my coach) and I have as our goals (for) what we’re going to be targeting and hopefully that happens in Rio.”

What do you think of Katie Ledecky’s dominance as the world record holder in the 800-meter freestyle? Do you think she’s the most dominant athlete in the world? Why or why not?

[Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images Sports]