Best of Bethesda: Katie Ledecky
Who better epitomizes the "Best" of Bethesda than Katie Ledecky? We checked in with the swimmer as she prepares for the 2016 Summer Olympics-and asked her what's on her personal favorites list.
Ize's in Rockville named "Katie's Gold Medal Omelet" for Katie Ledecky. Photo by Liz Lynch
Ever since she swam onto the international scene as a relatively unknown Olympian in London in 2012, we haven’t been able to get enough of Katie Ledecky. The Bethesda resident was instantly propelled to “America’s sweetheart” status after defeating event-favorite Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain in the women’s 800-meter freestyle to capture a gold medal. Ledecky, who attended Little Flower School and Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, both in Bethesda, was only 15.
Since then, Ledecky has been busy. Really busy. She’s set 10 world records. At the FINA World Swimming Championships in Russia last summer, she became the first swimmer to win the 200-, 400-, 800- and 1,500-meter freestyles in a major competition, a feat now known as “the Ledecky slam.”
We chatted with Ledecky, now 18, who heads off to the Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska, this summer in preparation for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
What are your favorite memories of growing up swimming here?
I started swimming for the Palisades Porpoises when I was 6 years old. The coaches were only 15, 16, 17 or 18 themselves, and they just really created a fun atmosphere for us in practice and at the meets. The team spirit and sense of community at those meets are some of my best memories from growing up.
I like that this area is big for swimming. Between Potomac Valley Swimming and the Montgomery County Swim League, the level of swimming here is something you don’t see everywhere. A lot of swimmers in this area go on to compete in college, which is a special thing.
What’s your schedule like these days?
I’m taking a gap year to maintain my coaching and training going into the Olympic Trials before I head to Stanford next fall. This semester I’m taking two classes at Georgetown as a visiting student.
I train nine times a week in the pool, about two hours each time. I do three dryland training sessions each week, about an hour each time. Most of my practices are at Georgetown Prep with my coach, Bruce Gemmell.
I do dryland with Lee Sommers at Bethesda Sport&Health. Most of what I do is core work, and things so I don’t get injured, like protective shoulder exercises. I do some weights, too.
What’s your favorite event to swim?
The 400 and 800 free. The 800 is the event I swam in the Olympics, and I was really happy with my 800 this past summer at world championships. I really like the 400, too, because it’s a mix of sprinting and endurance. Most people see the 800 as a distance race. But my approach is that every race is a sprint—some are just longer sprints than others.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in Bethesda?
There’s a place I have breakfast two or three times a week after practice in the morning: Ize’s. It’s a little deli up on Rockville Pike, just past Georgetown Prep. It’s a great breakfast spot. It’s kind of a hot spot for swimmers, since Georgetown Prep and the Kennedy Shriver Aquatic Center are both nearby. I usually get an omelet with tomato, cheese and bacon. It’s funny—after London, they actually named that omelet after me, “Katie’s Gold Medal Omelet.”
Editor's Note: The 2016 Best of Bethesda results will be published on BethesdaMagazine.com on Feb. 1.
To learn more about Katie, visit Teamusa.org. The Olympics begin on August 5th.