[REAL VERSION] London 2012

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Teen Sensation Ledecky Reaches Finals

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    Katie Ledecky swims in the 800m freestyle Olympic qualifier.

    Katie Ledecky's family had no expectations for the youngest member of Team USA's qualifier on Thursday.

    But after the 15-year-old swimming sensation from Bethesda, Md., won Heat 3 in the women's 800m freestyle with a time of 8:23.84, they now know what to expect -- one more Olympic race, this time with a medal at stake.

    Ledecky's blazing time was third best overall in five heats.

    Ledecky told NBC4's Dan Hellie after the race that she was a little nervous and anxious for her first Olympic swim, and that she may have gotten off to too fast of a start. But in the end it didn't matter as she won the heat.

    "It was really exciting," Ledecky told NBC's Andrea Kramer after the race. "I was a little nervous going into it, and I had a lot of adrenaline, so I may have taken it out a little too fast. I'm glad I got the first one out of the way and hopefully that puts me in a good position for finals tomorrow."

    There has been plenty of buzz about Ledecky at the London Games because both her skill in the pool and her youthfulness outside of it.

    "She is adorable," veteran swimmer Natalie Coughlin said in an NBC interview. "The first few days she was so quiet because she was really young. With rookie skits and everything else, she really broke out of her shell. It's hard when you're 15, but she's doing an amazing job."

    Ziegler Out

    While Ledecky qualified for the finals, Kate Ziegler of Great Falls, Va., didn't.

    Ziegler, 24, finished last in Heat 5 with a time of 8:37.38. She told Hellie that she has been battling the flu for five days. Quite the unfortunate time to get sick, as she was favored to medal in the event.

    The 800m freestyle final will be held Friday.