Las Vegas swimmer was called the ‘future’ of her sport but has now made first final
She is the youngest American Olympian at the Tokyo 2020 games and has been called the future of Team USA swimming.
And in her first ever Olympic swim, 15-year-old Katie Grimes finished second in her 800m freestyle heat, just two seconds behind teammate Katie Ledecky.
The pair, who have been nicknamed “Katie squared” by Ledecky, will now both compete in the event’s final later this week.
Grimes, who celebrated her birthday in January, is the youngest Team USA swimmer since Amanda Beard in 1996 at the age of 14.
The talented youngster qualified for the Olympics by finishing second behind Katie Ledecky in the 800m freestyle final at the US trials in June.
After the trials Ledecky told Grimes that she was the “future” of the long-distance event and added, “Katie squared is going to crush it in Tokyo.”
The teenager belongs to the Sandpipers of Nevada swimming club in Las Vegas, which is the former club of Olympic gold medal winner Cody Miller.
During the trials she surprisingly beat Haley Anderson for the second spot on the Olympic team, finishing the 800m race in 8:20:36, which was 11 seconds faster than her previous best.
“Speechless. I wasn’t expecting that. I just wanted to finish it. I’m so honoured to be in this meet, to be going to Tokyo,” Grimes said after the race.
“I used to think it was just cool that we had the same first name, but now we’re gonna be on the team together,” she said of racing alongside Ledecky, one of the greatest swimmers of all time.
Ledecky took the swimming world by storm when she won gold in the 800m freestyle at the 2012 London Games, when she was the same age as Grimes.
Born in 2006, Grimes was a relative unknown until her stunning performance at the trials, and during the pandemic she took part in marathon training swims in Lake Mead.
Her coaches admit that as recently as six months ago she was being beaten by her teammates in practice but has taken a massive jump and now finds herself on the sport’s biggest stage.
“It’s Vegas. It’s where we live. It’s our home. I’m so proud to represent it,” she said about her hometown.