Ledecky ready to go the distance in Rio

Fri Jul 22, 2016 9:18pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

TORONTO (Reuters) - When Michael Phelps says he sees a bit of his young self in Katie Ledecky, you know you are dealing with a very special swimmer.

Already an Olympic champion, the 19-year-old American distance queen is not exactly an unknown quantity but she could explode into the sporting stratosphere at the Rio Games.

Phelps, competing in his fifth Games and the most decorated Olympian of all time, is the undisputed star heading into South America's first Summer Games.

But when the Olympic flame is extinguished on Aug. 21, it could well be Ledecky left standing in the spotlight, especially if she completes an ambitious program that includes a rare 200, 400 and 800 meters golden hat-trick.

"You can tell she is very goal oriented, and for me it brought me back to kind of what I was like way, way, way back in the day," said Phelps, who will bidding to add to his record Olympic haul of 22 medals, including 18 gold.

"Every time she gets in the water, it's like a world record, so she is improving so much and I think she is just trying to push that barrier.

"I don't see it that much anymore, how hungry she is and every single day she is going in trying to change something and trying to get better.

"It just gives me a lot of good thoughts of what there is to come in the sport of swimming for the younger kids."   Continued...

Katie Ledecky during the women's 400m freestyle preliminary heats in the U.S. Olympic swimming team trials at CenturyLink Center in Omaha June 27, 2016. Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports