Katie Ledecky will put off college to continue her preparation for the 2016 Olympic Games. (Toni L. Sandys / The Washington Post)

Katie Ledecky, the three-time All-Met Swimmer of the Year and reigning world record holder in the 400-meter, 800 and 1,500 freestyle events, made the much-anticipated decision to defer enrollment at Stanford University for the 2015-16 school year Friday, choosing to remain at home to train in the most important year yet of her young career.

“After careful consideration and joint discussion with both my current club coach, Bruce Gemmell of Nation’s Capital Swim Club, and Stanford Coach Greg Meehan, I have decided to defer my enrollment at Stanford for one year so that I may continue my training in my home environment in Maryland leading up to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials,” Ledecky said in a statement issued by Stone Ridge School, where she is a senior.

The decision seems timely, four years and a day after the 18-year-old world record holder reached her first Olympic Trials cut at age 14. Thirteen months later, Ledecky’s swimming career took off when she placed first at trials, earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in London, where she would win gold in the 800 freestyle. She has since broken seven world record in the mid-distance and distance freestyle events, and has continued to extend her range in freestyle and individual medley as July’s world championships approach.


(Ricky Carioti / The Washington Post)

“I greatly appreciate the understanding, support and guidance I received from both Coach Gemmell and Coach Meehan in helping me to reach this decision,” Ledecky said. “I am thrilled and excited to be admitted to Stanford, and I very much look forward to my enrollment there as a student in the Fall of 2016 and swimming in NCAA competition as a member of Coach Meehan’s Stanford team.”

By deferring, Ledecky will continue training with Gemmell, a two-time USA Swimming coach of the year, as well as with Coach Sue Chen, a recent hire by Nation’s Capital, who is best known for developing Jack Conger (Good Counsel), a three-time All-Met Swimmer of the Year as well and a contender for a spot on the Rio Olympic team in the butterfly events. Conger is a rising junior at Texas.

Ledecky will graduate as the national high school record holder in the 200-yard and 500 freestyle events, set at the Washington Metropolitan Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championships. She set the American record in the latter event in February as well.

This summer, Ledecky will swim for the United States at the world championships in Kazan, Russia, where she is expected to vie for gold in multiple events. She will have both her current and future coach on deck to offer guidance, as Gemmell and Meehan were named to the national team staff last year when Ledecky qualified for worlds.

Ledecky isn’t the only Olympic hopeful deferring their freshman year. Saugus High School’s Abbey Weitzel, the No. 2 recruit in the nation and a national team member along with Ledecky, announced she would defer enrollment for a year at California in March.

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