‘We Just Want Her to Be Happy': Katie Ledecky Mom Shares Pride After Record-Shattering Win

Shortly after Katie Ledecky's record-smashing win in 800m free, her mom sat down with NBC4's Wendy Rieger to talk swimming, roomies (Katie's is Simone Manuel!) and her daughter's next big milestone: leaving for college

Bethesda native Katie Ledecky's record-smashing win in the 800-meter freestyle Friday night was nothing short of jaw-dropping. 

Ledecky pulled ahead -- and ahead -- and ahead -- of the competition, besting the silver medalist by a whopping 11 seconds, as crowds cheered. Among them, of course, was a very proud mom.

"She's calm. And that's great. I think it's a helpful attribute," Mary Gen Ledecky told NBC4's Wendy Rieger on Friday night. "We're not serene. We're yelling and screaming, cheering."

Katie's family is in Rio for the games, but they've been watching her triumphs from afar, keeping in touch via phone and FaceTime.

"And we've seen her from the podium and waved to her, but no, we haven't given her a hug yet or be able to sit down yet," Mary Gen Ledecky said. "We've talked [and done] a lot of texting...."

She said the athletes are well taken care of and "there's nothing a mom or dad needs to do."


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Mary Gen Ledecky said Katie's been rooming in the athletes' village with Simone Manuel, whose own stunning gold-medal win Thursday night made history.

"She was just thrilled," Mary Gen said of her daughter. "She wrote to me the second Simone won, saying she was crying."

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After the excitement of Rio dies down, Katie will head home to Bethesda -- but not for long. She's headed off to Stanford University this fall, and Mary Gen said the family will have to shift their focus onto the next big milestone.

She's hopeful that Katie can be "a regular freshman," noting her daughter won't even be the only Olympic athlete at the school. (Manuel is among the Olympians who attend.)

Katie will remain focused on swimming, but Mary Gen thinks there's even more on the horizon for her daughter.

"We just want her to be happy," she said. "She's been so focused and so goal-oriented; we hope that she'll find something that she can be very happy doing and find a passion" in addition to the pool.

Katie has a lot of other interests -- including the news, Mary Gen said.

In fact: "She watches you guys a lot," Mary Gen told Rieger. "She loves watching the news! Growing up in Washington, she's really very... very interested in what's going on in the world."

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