Katie Ledecky, a Bethesda native, tied Michael Phelps’ record of 15 individual gold medals at the World Swimming Championships as she won her 1500-meter race Tuesday in Japan.
Ledecky won her fifth 1500-meter race world title, finishing in 15 minutes and 26.27 seconds, which is her third fastest time and her fastest in five years, according to the World Aquatics website.
“It feels great. I’m just really enjoying swimming right now, especially my distance events,” Ledecky said to NBC Sports. “I feel like I’m getting better each time I swim them, and that’s what you love to see. You love to see improvement, and that’s been my biggest goal over the last couple of years.”
County Executive Marc Elrich (D) and County Council President Evan Glass (D) congratulated the Montgomery County native in tweets Tuesday.
Ledecky has seen plenty of gold this month as she also claimed the top spot in the freestyle 1500-meter race in the 2023 Phillips 66 National Championships on July 1.
Ledecky attended high school at the Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, where she set multiple records on her swim team.
“In tying Michael Phelps’ record for most individual World Championship gold medals, Katie has not only cemented herself as one of the most decorated and accomplished female swimmers of all time, but as one of the most decorated professional athletes of all time, regardless of sport or gender,” Andrew Maguire, Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart’s athletic director, said in an email to MoCo360.
Even though he started his position in 2017 after Ledecky graduated in 2015, Maguire recognizes how impactful her legacy still is on the program today.
“Finding a passion and dedicating oneself to be the best version of themselves through their sports is something that we hope to inspire within all of our Stone Ridge student-athletes,” Maguire said in the email. “Katie has modeled these qualities and has been and – continues to be – a great role model for all of our students.”
Ledecky credits her success to her coaches and teammates growing up and now.
“The secret is just a lot of hard work and having really great people around me including my coaches over the last 10 plus years [and] really since I started swimming when I was six,” Ledecky said today, according to World Aquatics. “I have really great teammates right now that push me every day, and I could not do it without them.”
She began her Olympic career at 15
– years – old in the 2012 London Games where she won a gold medal in the 800-meter freestyle race. She won a total of seven gold and three silver medals in the 2012, 2016 and 2020 Olympics. She said she plans to compete in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Ledecky won a silver medal for the 400-meter freestyle in the World Swimming Championships on July 22 in Fukuoka, Japan.
She has a chance to gain another victory in the World Swimming Championships, breaking Phelps’ record, in the 800-meter freestyle on Saturday.
“We know that the entire Stone Ridge community will be cheering for Katie to win her 16th individual Gold later in this World Championships meet to hold the record on her own – and to add to it in the years to come,” Maguire said in the email.