Tokyo - The Japanese students let out squeals on Tuesday as Olympic
gold medallist Katie Ledecky moved across the swimming pool, ducking under the
The 21-year-old American, fresh off a five-medal performance
at the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo, answered questions about her career
and training routine before jumping into the pool with more than 100
star-struck Japanese elementary and junior high school students to give them
"Her strokes were really big and really different from
ours, so I could really tell the difference," said 6th-grader Risako
Tomita, who lived in Maryland, Ledecky's home state, for four years.
"I tend to put my hand too far down in the water,"
she said after watching how Ledecky swims. "So I have to lift it up a
Ledecky, who has won five Olympic gold medals, seemed
impressed as she watched the students swim past, mouthing to her parents and
brother in the stands, "They're so fast!"
She told reporters afterward that she plans to train hard
for the next two years so that she can return to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics.
She cracked a smile when she saw the students, still in their dripping
swimsuits, craning their necks behind the journalists.
"Hopefully I'll see a lot of their faces again in two
years," she said.
The event was part of the US Embassy's "Go for
Gold" campaign, which brings American athletes and diplomats to
participating Tokyo schools.
Ledecky, who met legendary Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps
when she was nine, said working with kids is very important to her.
"It's fun for me to give back to the sport I love so
much," she said.