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Bethesda Honors Its Three Olympic Heroes

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Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky, right, signs autographs for her Bethesda admirers.
Matt Bush
Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky, right, signs autographs for her Bethesda admirers.

Three Bethesda, Md., natives made this year's U.S. Summer Olympic team, and they were honored Friday afternoon by their hometown. Most of the 150 people who packed the square right next to the Bethesda Metro station were there to see 15-year-old gold medal swimmer Katie Ledecky.

The line to get her autograph or a photo curved around the entire square by the time the ceremony started. Ledecky was the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic team. She starts school again Monday at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart.

"I don't think it will be different," says Ledecky. "It's the seniors day, so we're going to respect that and have a lot of fun with them. And, I think there might be something planned for next week, but it's been nice to share the moment with them. Then again, getting back to normal daily life is good."

As for the gold medal she won by taking the 800 meter women's freestyle, she keeps it in her parent's room at home, though she wore it to the ceremony today. And now that's she had a few weeks to look back on London, she has a new perspective on where she lives.

"Everything in London is pretty and nice, but Bethesda is my hometown," says Ledecky. "And I'll always love Bethesda."

While Ledecky brought most of the star power to the ceremony, she's far from the only Bethesdan who went to London. She was joined by Julie Zetlin, the only rhythmic gymnast from the U.S. to qualify for the games, and Scott Parsons. The three-time Olympian finished 16th in the slalom kayak competition.

Bethesda business leaders wanted to give all three keys to the city, but since Bethesda is not a municipality, they had to settle for plaques.


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