Montgomery County swimmers Katie Ledecky and Phoebe Bacon represent Team USA in Tokyo

Heather Jauquet

From schoolmates to Olympic teammates

Montgomery County sends two of its best swimmers to the Tokyo Olympics. Three-time Olympian Katie Ledecky and first-time Olympian Phoebe Bacon met as schoolmates when Katie was assigned to Phoebe as a buddy at the Little Flower School when the older girl was in fourth grade and the younger in pre-kindergarten. The rest is history as the two were buddied up as little girls and swan at Stone Ridge of the Sacred Heart High school under Coach Bob Walker. Ledecky swam 2011 through 2015, and Bacon followed soon after swimming 2016 through 2020. They also swam for a local club: Nation’s Capital Swim Club.

Bacon watched Ledecky’s career and her first Olympic debut at the age of 15 in the 2012 London Games, the youngest member of Team USA. Ledecky had also won her first gold in London in the 800 freestyle.

Ledecky graduated from Stone Ridge of the Sacred Heart in 2015 and Bacon in 2020. Ledecky went on to attend and graduate from Stanford. To prepare for the Tokyo Games, Ledecky had taken a leave of absence. As the pandemic shut down the world and without an available pool to train in or competitions on the schedule, Ledecky re-enrolled in classes and finished her coursework for an undergraduate degree in psychology. In an Instagram post, she is wearing her cap and gown on the pool deck at the swim trials in Omaha. In a phone interview with the Washington Post for their article, “Katie Ledecky couldn’t pursue Olympic medals in 2020. She got her degree instead.” Ledecky said, “It was busy, and it was challenging. But it also gave me something to do and something to focus on. There was definitely the side benefit of keeping my mind occupied during this time.”

“Having this entire year to switch and learn how to swim a 200 has definitely been a big help. I don’t really know where I would’ve placed a year ago,” Phoebe Bacon to the Washington Post

Bacon is enrolled at the University of Wisconsin. She took the extra training time during the pandemic to focus on strength and longer distances, concentrating on the 200-meter backstroke. Having placed 6th in the 100-meter backstroke in the trials in Omaha, the 200-meter backstroke was her way to join Team USA, edging out world record holder Regan Smith in that event.

Smith qualified for Team USA in the 100-meter backstroke, where she’s already won the bronze medal and the 200 Butterfly. In the article, “Phoebe Bacon was once Katie Ledecky’s school ‘buddy.’ Now they’re Olympic teammates,” Bacon told the Washington Post, “Having this entire year to switch and learn how to swim a 200 has definitely been a big help. I don’t really know where I would’ve placed a year ago.”

To celebrate their Olympians, Stone Ridge of the Sacred Heart in Montgomery County held a pep rally on July 19, 2021 complete with posters and large cardboard cutouts of the swimmers. In addition, the community pulled together to show their support by wearing Team USA hats and shirts sporting the names of the Olympian swimmers.

With their history, it is no surprise that these Montgomery County women, who are no longer schoolmates, should meet again as teammates representing Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics.

Ledecky will swim the 200-meter freestyle, 400 freestyle, 800 freestyle, and 1,500 freestyle. She’s already won the silver in the 400-meter freestyle.

Bacon will swim the 200-meter backstroke.

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Heather Jauquet writes articles centered around the DMV and her adventures in other local communities. Follow her to get information about Montgomery County education, government, and community news. When she's not writing, she's running. Got a story to share? Email her: hjauquet@gmail.com

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