Born on St. Patrick’s day, Katie Ledecky has the luck of the Irish, you might say, but it was more than luck that earned Ledecky an Olympic gold medal and now two Golden Goggle awards.
On Nov. 19, the 15-year-old from Bethesda earned Breakout Performer of the Year and Female Race of the Year at the ninth annual USA Swimming Golden Goggle Awards for her American-record performance in the 800-meter freestyle at the 2012 Olympic games.
“It was really cool,” the Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart student said Wednesday. Ledecky was between two workouts on Wednesday and said she’s only taken three weeks off training since the London Olympics. “I was totally surprised. I wasn’t expecting to win either. It was fun.”
The awards are USA Swimming’s version of the ESPYs, recognizing swimmers for outstanding performances. The event, held in New York, was hosted by Bob Costas of NBC sports.
Ledecky said she had an entire table at the gala filled with family members, including two of her grandmothers.
“We do things as a family,” she said.
Olympic swimmer Dara Torres and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented Katie with her first award of the night, Female Race of the Year.
Katie’s father and brother were both born in New York, and Katie said it was an honor to meet the mayor. Katie, America’s youngest gold medalist of the games, got the opportunity to stand alongside Torres, USA Swimming’s oldest Olympian.
Watching a recap of the races from the women in her category gave Katie “chills”, she said.
“Those were all great races. I had the pleasure of watching them all live and cheer for them. I was inspired by all those races,” Katie said.
Magician David Blaine and Olympic swimmer Lenny Krayzelburg presented Katie with her second Golden Goggle of the night, Breakout Performer of the Year.
Like many teenage girls, finding the perfect outfit to wear to the gala took a couple of tries.
“My mom shopped and cut it down to one or two [dresses]. Eventually we decided to go out one weekend and found one and returned all the others,” she said.
Katie’s after-party meant spending time with her family at the hotel.
“It was a late night. We want back to my grandma’s room and took a few pictures and went to bed,” she said.
Heading on a flight home the next day after the ceremony, Katie said she packed the trophies, each weighing more than 10 pounds, into her carry-on bag.
They’re now “in a nice spot in a living room,” she said. According to USA Swimming’s Public Relations and Social Media Director Karen Linhart, the awards have a marble base and are each worth about $1,800.
Before heading to her second practice of the day — her workout regime includes two practices one day a week and one practice on the other days — Katie said she has reset her goals. Katie was close to making the Olympic team in the 400-meter freestyle and 200-meter freestyle. She also said she has a new time she would like to make in that 800-meter race, but said she doesn’t planning on sharing it.
“I have quite a few things to work toward,” she said.