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Video: Olympic Swimmer Katie Ledecky Breaks Her Own World Record and Takes the “Papal Pledge”

Zoe Romanowsky - published on 08/05/15

Gold-medalist invites others to join her in preparation for Pope Francis' visit

Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky is no stranger to accepting daunting challenges.

The 18-year-old American just completed a 1,700-meter session at the world championships in Kazan, Russia. The New York Times reports that this "amounted to 1,300 meters more than the doubles Michael Phelps pulled off during his eight-gold-medal jaunt at the 2008 Olympics [and]… 1,400 meters more than Missy Franklin totaled when she swam a 200-meter freestyle semifinal and a 100 backstroke final, with 13 minutes in between, at the 2012 London Games."

Ledecky said it was tougher than she had expected. 

“There are very few, if anyone, in the world who can do what Katie just did,” said Franklin, who won the heat in 1:56.37, the second-fastest time over all, while racing next to Ledecky. “I can’t even imagine.”

No woman before Ledecky is believed to have tried this at the sport’s highest level and some eyewitnesses, according to the NYT, were struggling to make sense of what they had seen. For Ledecky, it was all part of challenging herself to something more:

“I wasn’t afraid to fail,” she said, adding, “I had nothing to lose.”

Mental toughness and the unconditional love of her family are behind Ledecky’s attitude and success. And both are probably also behind her decision to take the "Walk With Francis" pledge that the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. has launched, in anticipation of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States this September. 

The "Walk With Francis" pledge is a way for people—Catholic and non-Catholic—to unite and actively participate in the papal visit by making a commitment to pray, learn, and/or serve, following the example of Pope Francis. 

A resident of Bethesda, Maryland and graduate of Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, Ledecky says she is "so exicted about the Holy Father’s visit to Washington D.C." and reminds everyone that loving God is not abstract but concrete. She has pledged to find special ways to support charitable organizations such as Catholic Charities, Shepherd’s Table, and Bikes for the World, and she is encouraging others to take the papal pledge as well.   


Zoe Romanowsky is lifestyle editor and video content producer for Aleteia.

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