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July 2, 2016

Katie Ledecky

Omaha, Nebraska

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Katie Ledecky, Winner of the 1500 Meter Freestyle tonight, congratulations!


Q. How much did you taper or rest for this meet?
KATIE LEDECKY: I do whatever Bruce tells me to do at practice, and how much of a rest that is, I don't know. I'm sure we'll get back to work this week and then taper down again, and hopefully I'll be more rested and feeling really good in Rio.

Q. By my calculations, you dropped 13 seconds in this race since winning the Trials here four years ago. Are you able to look back at that and appreciate it? Just what do you make of that?
KATIE LEDECKY: They were showing a clip of the race right before my race tonight, and they were showing a clip of the race from four years ago, and I was watching and I was like, my stroke is really different from what it was then, my turns are terrible! It was cool to look back and see how much I've improved over the last four years, and the time shows that, and I think I was 8:19 here at finals in 2012, so definitely have improved a lot since then.

I improved in London off of Omaha last time, and that's the goal this time as well.

Q. Katie, Missy Franklin was in the same position that you are today four years ago, and she has had some struggles since then. Can you appreciate what an achievement it was for her to battle her way on to the team in the 200 Free and 200 Backstroke?
KATIE LEDECKY: Yeah, she is such a fighter and she might be disappointed with her swims this week but she has nothing to be disappointed about. She is on the team in Rio and she is going to be a real team leader and you can count on her to swim fast. I'm excited to be on a relay with her again, and I think it's going to be a really great team up and down. I know it's going to be a lot of fun, and Missy is somebody that always makes it fun.

Q. Do you think this time around you're going to be a team leader? Also, you know, I think there has been so much written about you and so much broadcast about you over the last few weeks that it's almost like if you don't set a world record there are some people here that go, "Oh my God." How do you respond?
KATIE LEDECKY: To answer your first question, hopefully I will be a team leader, and Kaitlin told me in the interview on deck that I'm still the youngest Olympian as of now on the team, which is funny because I do have a lot more experience than I did four years ago when I was the youngest on the team then.

Hopefully I can bring a little bit of something to the team and help out some of the people that are going to their first Olympics and kind of tell them what it will be like, and that's how I felt really prepared going into 2012, because all the veterans and the people that have been there before had shared everything they had learned from the past Olympics.

To answer your other question, I think I'm just focused on my own goals. You guys can write whatever you want. I appreciate all your coverage of the sport, it's really been a fun week here in Omaha and we really appreciate everything you guys have done to promote the sport. I'm just going to focus on my racing and what my goals are, and anybody else's expectations don't really mean that much to me. No offense, it's just what I want to do and what Bruce and I have as our goals. Those are what we are going to be targeting and hopefully that will happen in Rio.

Q. Four years ago you took the disappointment of missing out on the 400 and kind of channelled that into motivation for the 800 later in the week. Is it a similar situation at all with the 100 here? Do you feel like you can channel that into something bigger for Rio for yourself?
KATIE LEDECKY: Yeah, I mean, I'm -- I don't know where I'm at with the 100 right now with the relay or anything like that. Obviously that's up to the coaches, and if they call on me I will be ready, and I will still be preparing for the 200, which helps my 100, still, so I will be ready if they want me on that relay. I think in terms of motivation, I think getting seventh here will more be motivation for four years when the 100 will more likely be a target and something I might consider focusing a little more on in the future.

But right now I just need to focus on my 2, 4, 8, 4x2 and what I want to do to get better in those first.

Q. Katie you gave the record a good run tonight. Was there a point when you realized it wasn't going to be a record night?
KATIE LEDECKY: Yeah, it just didn't feel like it was anything special. I can't complain about an 8:10 but I just could feel that I wasn't really able to bring my legs in, swimming with a one- or two-beat kick the whole time. When I really start to get going, I can bring in that kick and get into a good rhythm, and that wasn't there tonight and kinda made my arms more tired than they normally get. So I think I can take what I did tonight and improve on that in Rio and I know how I felt in that race. I know what an 8:10 feels like, I did it twice now, and hopefully I can be back down and a little faster in Rio.

Q. Michael has been the face of swimming for so long. We had a period where Missy was kind of the face a little bit. It seems like we are at a point where there is not one face in the sport. How exciting is that, especially going into the Olympics where there are so many big swimming superstars that can do so many different things?
KATIE LEDECKY: I think it's an exciting time. I saw something about the number of rookies, like first-time Olympians, and it's a couple more than it was in 2012, and the meet is not over yet. So we've got a lot of rookie skits to look forward to. Thankfully I don't have to do that again. It's an exciting time because we still do have Michael and Ryan and Dana and all these people that have tremendous experience, they've been to three, four, five Olympics, and we can count on them to lead the team, give good advice and cheer on the team, and then we do have a lot of new faces, a lot of college swimmers, high school swimmers, just -- it's a really cool team, I think, and it reminds me a lot of the team four years ago, and hopefully we have that same chemistry and excitement through training camp and when we get to Rio. I think it's going to be a special couple of weeks.

Q. Katie, when Michael was coming up he talked explicitly about wanting to change the sport. But when people ask you about do you want to be the face of swimming or whatever you want to call it, is that something you think about, part of your concept of what you want to do?
KATIE LEDECKY: It's not something I've really thought about that much. Michael has changed the sport, and it's really cool when you get to swim in front of 14,000 people, and I don't know if we would have had that if we didn't have Michael.

So just to be on a team with him is a great honor, and to see him go out the way he's going out is really neat. In terms of how I fit into that, I think everybody that's going to Rio wants to represent USA Swimming really well and I think that's our main goal. We've been the best swimming country in the world for, who knows how many years, and we want that to continue.

Q. Katie, now that it's over, can you quantify how much more pressure you might have felt going into this week than four years ago? Do you feel relief that the week is over? What's the word you would use to describe?
KATIE LEDECKY: It's pretty hard for me to compare this from four years ago just because I've been here before and I just knew what to expect and had some bigger goals than I did four years ago. I think I still had the same amount of fun that I did four years ago, and that's going to be key moving forward, just having a lot of fun in Rio and enjoying the whole Olympic experience.

It really is an experience like no other and you're with all these athletes from the world, and everybody comes together, and it's a really cool thing to be a part of, and I don't think -- I think this meet is more stressful and pressure packed than an Olympic Games, and hopefully I will still feel like this in a couple of weeks, but I know the nerves will be there like any other swim meet, but once you are on the Olympic Team, everybody is in the same boat and we're all supporting each other and, again, I think we're going to represent USA Swimming to the best of our ability, and we know everybody back home will be cheering us on.

Q. When you get the chance to give some words of advice to a first-time Olympian, what will you tell them?
KATIE LEDECKY: I think just to enjoy the whole Olympic experience. Do as much as you can, but do everything you need to do to swim your best. We all want to swim our best in Rio; we want to swim better than we did here. Enjoy training camp and being in the village, enjoy going to breakfast, lunch, dinner and seeing all these people from every different country. One thing I'm going to try to do this time a little more this year is do the pin trading. I did one or two last time, but it would be cool to rack up a little collection. I think it's just a really neat thing when you can bring all these countries together and hopefully it inspires the world and brings about more peace or something!

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Katie. Congratulations on a great week.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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