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Olympic legend Katie Ledecky joined The Rush to talk about her training regimen, finding a pool to swim in during covid and the IOC rules regarding Olympic protests.
KATIE LEDECKY: I think athletes should have some ability to speak their mind and speak up for what they believe in. And I think all of us, over the course of the past year especially, have been able to recognize and acknowledge and speak to some of the issues that we see in our country and in the world.
LIZ LOZA: What's up, everyone? I am here with five-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky. Katie, how are you?
KATIE LEDECKY: I'm doing well, Liz. Thanks for having me.
LIZ LOZA: Absolutely. I'm so excited you're here. In your first race back in a year, you won by 26 seconds.
- Katie Ledecky cruising on her way home, looking to post the best time in the world again here this year in this event.
LIZ LOZA: So what chores were you able to get done while you waited for everybody else to finish?
KATIE LEDECKY: Oh, no, it's not like that. I was just putting up the best race that I could on that day, and I was pretty pleased with how it turned out. And I've been on a good path going to trials. So yeah, just pretty focused. And I'm pretty tired at the end of those races.
LIZ LOZA: Swimmers seem to have these insane training regimens. Can you give us a glimpse into what your day looks like?
KATIE LEDECKY: I swim doubles most days, except Wednesdays and Saturdays, and I get Sundays off. Then I left three times a week as well. So it's usually an early-morning practice and then an afternoon practice and typically a couple meals and a nap in between.
LIZ LOZA: Is it possible to be a swimmer and not be a morning person?
KATIE LEDECKY: I don't think it's possible. I was up at 4:00 in the morning from probably seventh grade through all of high school a couple of times a week. So it's always a challenge to get pool space, especially on big club swim teams. Sometimes you got to get up early to get to the pool and get your laps in.
LIZ LOZA: Well, speaking of pool space, I heard you had to get a little creative during the pandemic. And finding a pool at all, let alone space in it, wasn't so easy. What did you end up doing?
KATIE LEDECKY: For the first three months of the pandemic from mid-March to mid-June of 2020, I swam in a neighbor's backyard pool with one of my teammates. It was a very nice backyard pool, a two-lane, 25-yard pool. And so we were able to continue training. My teammate was Simone Manuel. And so we really were able to keep our feel for the water.
And I'm really grateful that I had that to do every day for a couple of months. And then our normal training facilities opened back up in June, and we were able to get back into our normal routine. And of course, everything's been different. There's been a lot of testing and distancing and all those great things that we've all been doing to keep each other healthy and safe.
LIZ LOZA: There's no doubt how inspirational you are as the most accomplished swimmer in history. And by the way, you're only 24 years old. How long do you plan on staying in the pool?
KATIE LEDECKY: I want to keep swimming as long as I can, as long as I still love it. I just enjoy the day-to-day. I don't think about medals. I don't think about records. Of course, I have my goals for myself that are in the back of my mind, but I'm really just enjoying being with my teammates. I think back to when I first started swimming, and I never thought I would make it to this level. And so it really is just about making new friends, having a lot of fun. That's why I started swimming. That's why I love the sport. And so I hope that I can continue to do that through my swimming career.
LIZ LOZA: Well, let's talk about the Olympics, The USOPC is allowing on-field protest during the trials, but the IOC is continuing the ban on protests during the Olympics. What do you think about those policies?
KATIE LEDECKY: It's good to see some change being made, at least in the US. And I think athletes should have some ability to speak their mind and speak up for what they believe in. And I think all of us, over the course of the past year especially, have been able to recognize and acknowledge and speak to some of the issues that we see in our country and in the world.
And I think, of course, the Olympics and the trials, they provide a great space to speak to media, to speak to people who are watching around the world. And I hope that athletes will still feel comfortable and confident in speaking their mind and speaking up for people in need and people that may be underrepresented at those platforms and at those levels.
LIZ LOZA: Do you think you'd be a good lifeguard?
KATIE LEDECKY: I would hope I would be. I [INAUDIBLE] the lifeguarding classes. I took those CPR class once, but that's probably expired at this point. No, I hope I would be able to save someone. I definitely try to promote learning how to swim as much as I can. I think swimming is such a unique sport in that it's one of the few sports that is not only a sport, but it's also a life skill, and a very important one.
So I hope that everyone can learn how to swim at some point in their life. It's never too late to learn. And if someone wants me to become a lifeguard, I guess I would. I definitely try to give some swim lessons here and there when I can to groups or to young swimmers and try to inspire them to keep at it.
LIZ LOZA: You are here on behalf of Bic, and you're actually the face of the Game On campaign. Tell us a little bit more about it.
KATIE LEDECKY: Yeah, it's an awesome campaign with Bic and with my teammate, Simone Manuel, and with USA Swimming. It's really trying to promote confidence, and we're trying to inspire as many people as we can. As a swimmer, shaving is really important. And I know that we'll be having a shaving party in Tokyo before our first races. And I'll be using my big Soleil Sensitive Advanced Razor for that clean, smooth shave. It's water activated, which is pretty cool as a swimmer as well. I hope that we can really show people and inspire people and talk to them about confidence and a lot of hard work.
LIZ LOZA: Thank you for rushing with us, Katie. Good luck this summer.
KATIE LEDECKY: Thanks, Liz.