A Local Swimmer Is 2012’s Youngest American Olympian

The United States Olympic Committee officially named its team for London yesterday, and local distance swimmer Katie Ledecky is the youngest member of the 530-person contingent at 15 years old.

By: Mary Yarrison

The composition of the American Olympic team has been a work in progress for some time, with several high-profile sports, including swimming, gymnastics, and track, completing their trials just in the past few weeks. As of yesterday, though, the American Olympic roster is set, and Katie Ledecky, a 15-year-old from Montgomery County, is its youngest member.

The Stone Ridge rising sophomore ran away with the 800-meter freestyle at the US Olympic swimming trials in Omaha, and for many who follow the sport locally, that race was the highlight of the meet. She qualified for the games with a more-than-two-second victory over Kate Ziegler—also a local—in the longest women’s race contested in the Olympics. The 800 capped off a great first trials for Ledecky, who placed third (two people qualify) in the 400 free earlier in the week, breaking a 24-year-old National Age Group record in the process.

Ziegler, who grew up in Great Falls, also earned a trip to London in the 800 free by finishing second to Ledecky. In 2008, Ziegler entered the games a two-time defending world champion in the same event but didn’t quite make the final in Beijing. The intervening years have brought change for her: a move to California and another back to the area, and a comeback highlighted by silver at last summer’s world championships. Her fresh perspective, which she discussed with the Washington Post just before trials, should make for a richer Olympic experience this time around.

Other swimmers with local ties headed to London include two University of Virginia standouts, who both qualified as members of their respective 800-meter freestyle relay teams. UVA grad, 2011 NCAA champion, and Sterling native Matt McLean qualified by finishing fifth in the 200-meter freestyle at the trials; rising senior Lauren Perdue, who comes from a family full of UVA swimmers, qualified by finishing fourth.

All told, according to the United States Olympic Committee roster, 12 athletes who list suburbs of Washington as their hometowns have been named to the team—7 from Virginia and 5 from Maryland, with 15 Virginians and 12 Marylanders total headed to London. It’s important to note, of course, that some of those athletes (like Kevin Durant of Montrose Christian and the Oklahoma City Thunder) live and train outside of the area at present.

Look for Washington representatives in basketball, canoe/kayak, field hockey, gymnastics, rowing, swimming, Taekwondo, and track. For the full roster, visit teamusa.org.