US Olympian Katie Ledecky gives swim tips to Tokyo students
By NICOLA SHANNON, Associated Press
TOKYO (AP) — The Japanese students let out squeals Tuesday as Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky moved across the swimming pool, ducking under the lane lines.
The 21-year-old American, fresh off a five-medal performance at the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo, answered questions about her career and training routine before jumping into the pool with more than 100 star-struck Japanese elementary and junior high school students to give them tips.
“Her strokes were really big and really different from ours, so I could really tell the difference,” said 6th-grader Risako Tomita, who lived in Maryland, Ledecky’s home state, for four years.
“I tend to put my hand too far down in the water,” she said after watching how Ledecky swims. “So I have to lift it up a little.”
Ledecky, who has won five Olympic gold medals, seemed impressed as she watched the students swim past, mouthing to her parents and brother in the stands, “They’re so fast!”
She told reporters afterward that she plans to train hard for the next two years so that she can return to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics. She cracked a smile when she saw the students, still in their dripping swimsuits, craning their necks behind the journalists.
“Hopefully I’ll see a lot of their faces again in two years,” she said.
The event was part of the U.S. Embassy’s “Go for Gold” campaign, which brings American athletes and diplomats to participating Tokyo schools.
Ledecky, who met legendary Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps when she was nine, said working with kids is very important to her.
“It’s fun for me to give back to the sport I love so much,” she said.
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