The future of women's swimming in the USA looks extremely promising as high school performers continue to pile up gold medals in record-breaking fashion during the London Olympics.
On Friday 15-year-old Katie Ledecky, who will be a sophomore in the fall at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart (Bethesda, Md.)
, won the 800-meter freestyle with an American-record time of 8:14.63. It bested the previous record of 8:16.22 by the great Janet Evans in in 1989 and nearly eclipsed the world record of 8:14.10 set in 2008.
Ledecky is the youngest American competitor in London in any sport.
"I just got fired up when Missy and Michael (Phelps) won," she said. "Just to be here is incredible. I can't really put it into words."
She did afterward, saying that short term and long term goals helped her reach this point. During her historic win, she led from start to finish and opened up a two body-length lead on the field.
"Oh my gosh, it's just unbelievable," she said. "I tried to blank everything out as much as I could. I didn't feel I had it until the 799-meter point."
That incredible performance elevated her into the company of Missy Franklin, who will be a senior this fall at Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colo.)
The powerful, 6-foot-1 Franklin did break a world record, winning the 200-meter backstroke in a blazing 2:04.06. The previous record was 2:04.81 from the 2009 season. It was Franklin's third gold medal, having previously won the 100-meter backstroke (American record time of 58.33) and been a part of the victorious 800-meter freestyle relay.
She also won a bronze with the 400-meter freestyle relay and by the time the 2012 Olympic wind up she will be the first female to swim seven events (in eight days).
Asked where she's finding the energy to do it all, Franklin told Andrea Kremer: "I'm getting the energy from here (pointing to the crowd). It doesn't get any better than this. I just feed off of everything that's happening. ... I've had the time of my life. This has been the most incredible week and I've never been happier." Senior writer Mitch Stephens contributed to this report.