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Olympics 2012: Bethesda’s Katie Ledecky, 15, wins 800 free
Then the high school sophomore-to-be from Bethesda, Md., won her own gold medal.
Ledecky touched first in the 800-meter freestyle with a time of 8 minutes, 15.63 seconds on Friday night, beating a field that included defending Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington of Britain and 2008 bronze medalist Lotte Friis of Denmark.
“I didn’t really expect gold, but I’ll take it,” she said, smiling.
She lowered Janet Evans‘ American record of 8:16.22 set on Aug. 20, 1989 — eight years before Ledecky was born. Already the youngest swimmer on the U.S. team, Ledecky became the second-youngest American woman to win an individual gold medal.
Beth Botsford was 15 years and 62 days when she won the 100 backstroke at the 1996 Atlanta Games; Ledeckyis 15 years and 139 days.
“To break that record is really cool and really special,” she said about Evans‘ mark.
“They’re really neat to watch,” she said.
“Welcome to the gold medal club,” Bennett tweeted to Ledecky. “That was incredible to watch.”
Ledecky seemingly came out of nowhere to claim a spot on the U.S. team, and she nearly took out a world record in her first Olympics. She was ahead of Adlington’s record pace (8:14.10) from the Beijing Games until the last 15 meters of a race she thoroughly dominated.
“She was absolutely amazing,” said Adlington, who settled for bronze in 8:20.32. “That time is unbelievable. She has got a bright career ahead of her.”
Mireia Belmonte Garcia of Spain took the silver in 8:18.76.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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