Ledecky ready to roll again

When Katie Ledecky announced her arrival on the international stage at London 2012, the Aquatics Centre shuddered as the swimming world shook.

London was meant to be the domain of Rebecca Adlington, many assuming the 800 metres freestyle title was her's even before she had dived in.

However, a 15-year-old fired a shot across the bows at the United States trials less than a month before the start of the Games.

Ledecky swam within 1.24 seconds of Adlington's best 2012 time and looked ominous in the heats in London before taking a sledgehammer to expectations and reputations in the final.

Disregarding her coach's advice, Ledecky went from the off, shocking the field and those watching, to claim the Olympic crown, just 0.53secs off the world record.

The Maryland teenager, who swims for Nation's Capital Swim Club, was outwardly calm after the race although that masked a maelstrom of emotions.

Now 16, Ledecky said: "I was still comprehending everything that had happened, I was still in shock with how I did.

"It had not even sunk in that I was competing at an Olympics and had just won gold.

"It was a lot of fun, I enjoyed every moment at the Olympics, it was like living in a dream."

Ledecky's victory reverberated but Adlington was quick to offer her congratulations, something which made an impression on the American.

She said: "I'll never forget how gracious she was.

"I only raced against her once and only had that one experience but she could not have been nicer.

"I am looking forward to saying hi and thanking her again."

Ledecky sent Adlington a personal note after the Briton retired earlier this year, a gesture which touched the four-time Olympic medallist who told Press Association Sport: "It was a lovely note saying thank you for how you handled things after the race, you were such an inspiration and idol to me.

"Maybe she thought I would be angry but I was never angry, I was so happy for her and I think she appreciated that especially with how young she is as well.

"It is really hard for a young athlete because nobody really knows them and they don't have that initial respect that a veteran has.

"Yet she got that respect from doing that swim but she probably didn't realise that."

The pair may meet at the World Championships in Barcelona where Adlington will be commentating for the BBC while Ledecky could extend her upward trajectory, a medal contender across the 400m, 800m and 1,500m freestyle.

It seems only a matter of time before Ledecky breaks Adlington's 800m world record, set five years ago at the Beijing Olympics.

Bud McAllister is coach to Britain's Jazz Carlin who is jostling with Ledecky at the top of the 800m and 1500 rankings.

The American is also the man who guided Janet Evans to four Olympic titles and the 800m record which stood for 20 years until broken by Adlington.

He believes Ledecky can go as low as eight minutes 12 seconds - the record stands at 8mins 14.10secs - as well as breaking the world mark in the longest race.

But for Ledecky records and the opposition she faces are not the main focus.

Ledecky said: "I always want to do my best times.

"I don't think 'oh, I want the world record', I just want to go out and do my best.

"But it's only half a second or something so I kind of feel I am nearly there.

"If I try my hardest good things will come through."

She added: "I'm aware of my competition but have to focus on what I do.

"I can't control what others do so I just try to prepare as best I can."

The Bruce Gemmell-coached swimmer enters Barcelona in a completely different position to this time 12 months ago.

Now expected to be at least a multi-medallist, Ledecky is taking it all in her stride.

"I am not at all pressured, I feel really good.

"I don't feel any pressure.

"I've done more this year than last year in qualifying for more events and I am looking forward to competing on the international stage again."