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Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky is an ‘incredible leader for Team USA,’ swim legend Missy Franklin says

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The expectations for seven-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky are high heading into the Summer Olympics, but it’s not just her dominance in the pool that makes her an invaluable member of Team USA’s success. 

Fellow Olympian Missy Franklin believes it’s Ledecky’s role outside pool lanes that makes her one of the greats. 

Speaking to Fox News Digital ahead of the Paris Games, Franklin spoke optimistically about Ledecky’s chances at this year’s Games.

“I think she’s going to show up like she always does. Katie knows when to perform. She’s been doing it since 2012.” 

It will be Ledecky’s fourth Olympics, and she is expected to solidify her spot during this weekend’s U.S. swimming trials. But the challengers are already lining up. Australia’s Ariarne Titmus and Canada’s Summer McIntosh present the biggest threat in the women’s 400-meter freestyle. 

Ledecky won gold in that event in 2016 but lost to Titmus in Tokyo. McIntosh then took over the world record in the women’s 400-meter freestyle, but Titmus claimed it back later that year at the world championships. 

Franklin agrees the competition will be fierce, but that’s when Ledecky shines. 

Katie Ledecky celebrates

OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST MISSY FRANKLIN ON THE ‘MOST EPIC MOMENT’ FOR EVERY AMERICAN SWIMMER AHEAD OF 2024 GAMES

“Katie relishes the challenge,” Franklin said. “She loves the competition. She loves having people that are going to push her to be even better.”

Ledecky, 27, already has six individual Olympic gold medals, more than any female swimmer in the history of the sport. Anything more in Paris would only compliment her legendary career. But Franklin knows Ledecky’s role in Paris goes beyond the medal count. 

“I think Katie’s an incredible role model,” Franklin said. “She’s an incredible leader for Team USA. I think alongside her accomplishments in the pool, she’s also going to have amazing accomplishments outside of it when it comes to being that veteran for Team USA and really showing and leading the way with her experience or her knowledge.” 

Missy Franklin hugs Katie Ledecky

Ledecky was off to a strong start in the U.S. Olympic swimming trials Saturday. She finished the 400-meter freestyle with a time of 3:59.99. Her first-place finish was more than five seconds ahead of second-place finisher Paige Madden. 

The final is scheduled for Saturday night. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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