|Katie Ledecky celebrates winning gold in the women's 200-meter freestyle at the 16th FINA World Championships at the Kazan Arena on Aug. 5, 2015 in Kazan, Russia.|
To be inducted to a hall of fame at the age of 19 is a sign you’ve done something special. When that hall of fame includes such historic luminaries as Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Billie Holiday, that something had to be extraordinary.
Such is the case with five-time Olympic swimming gold medalist Katie Ledecky, who on March 16 became the youngest inductee for the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame. (Note: Ledecky turned 20 the following day.) The two-time Olympian, currently competing as a freshman for Stanford University, was unable to attend the induction as she was competing at NCAA championships.
Ledecky capped her first year on the Cardinal team by claiming five titles, including breaking the American record in the 500-yard freestyle by more than a second on the same evening as the ceremony in Maryland. Ledecky’s three individual titles and her contributions to two relay wins propelled Stanford to its first NCAA team title since 1998.
“I have to thank my parents for having the great sense to raise my brother and me in the wonderful state of Maryland,” Ledecky said in a statement of thanks to the hall of fame and its sponsors.
The youngest member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team, Ledecky set an American record on her way to winning the 800-meter freestyle. The most decorated women’s athlete for Team USA at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, she left Brazil with four golds and a silver, becoming the first woman to sweep the 200-, 400- and 800-meter freestyle races since Debbie Meyer at the Mexico City 1968 Games.
A two-time USOC Athlete of the Year, Ledecky has broken 13 world and 30 American records in her career while collecting 19 gold medals in international competition.
Established in 1985 by the Maryland Commission for Women and the Women Legislators of Maryland, the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame honors women in the state who have mad significant and lasting contributions in the areas of the arts, athletics, business, education, government, the humanities, human rights, law, medicine, philanthropy or science. Selected by an independent committee, the honorees are inducted in March to coincide with Women’s History Month.