“She’s on her way.”
That’s how Bob Walker, the head coach of Stone Ridge’s swim team, describes his star freshman, Katie Ledecky. Instead of swimming at the Washington Metropolitan Interscholastic Swimming and Diving championships next weekend, Ledecky will head to Columbia, Mo., to swim in the Missouri Grand Prix. She has already qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials in Omaha.
The schedule ahead could have made Saturday’s Washington Metropolitan Prep School Swim and Dive League Championships, held at the Takoma Aquatic Center, appear to be a steppingstone for Ledecky, but she didn’t take the night off. The freshman broke meet records in both of her individual events, and anchored the victorious Stone Ridge girls’ 200-yard freestyle relay team.
“She’s the next American great, hopefully, distance swimmer,” Walker said of Ledecky. “She’s moving towards Olympic trials. High school swimming’s done next weekend, so she’ll move on to training for the Olympic trials, which will be the end of June. That puts things in perspective.”
Ledecky’s record-breaking performances in the 200 and 500 freestyle events Saturday were made all the more special for the freshman because of the previous owner of those records is Olympian Kate Ziegler (O’Connell), the world-record holder in the 1,500-meter freestyle.
“It’s a great honor. I grew up looking up to Kate Zeigler, seeing her at all the big meets,” Ledecky said. “When she broke her world record, I saw it. It was really amazing. She’s a great swimmer and it’s a great honor.”
Despite Ledecky’s strong showing, Stone Ridge finished fourth as a team with 240 points. Good Counsel won with 344 points, followed by Holton-Arms and its freshman star, Caroline McTaggart, with 294 points and Holy Cross with 261 points.
On the boys’ side, Gonzaga ran away with the meet, scoring 540 points and outpacing second-place Good Counsel by 185 despite a strong showing from Falcons junior Jack Conger. Georgetown Prep finished third with 268 points.
With a national meet on her schedule for next week and Olympic trials approaching this summer, Ledecky said she was happy with her performance on Saturday. The freshman said she swam at around 85 or 90 percent, a good sign as she makes her way into bigger meets. “Right now our ultimate goal is Olympic trials,” Ledecky said. “We just look at these meets as steps along the way, and I guess this one that will get some momentum going for some other meets.”