Katie Ledecky can't seem to believe she just won a gold medal. (Clive Rose / Getty Images )
LONDON -- Katie Ledecky, who turned 15 in March, is the youngest member of the powerful U.S. swim team and a newcomer on the international scene.
And now, the newest owner of a gold medal.
Ledecky, of Bethesda, Md., took the lead by the 150-meter mark and was on world-record pace through 750 meters, winning the women's 800-meter freestyle in 8 minutes,14.63 seconds.
It was the second-fastest time in history, only behind Rebecca Adlington's world-record mark when she won the event four years ago at the Olympics. Adlington, of Great Britain, took the bronze on Friday night at the Aquatics Centre.
Mireia Belmonte of Spain, who won the first medal for her country at these Games when she took silver in the 200-meter fly, took another silver, going 8:18.76.
Ledecky's margin of victory was especially noteable: 4.13 seconds. She broke the American record set by Janet Evans nearly 23 years ago. Evans went 8:16.22 in Tokyo in Aug. 1989, which also stood as the world record until Adlington broke it in 2008.
"I just set some really good short-term and long-term goals," Ledecky said. "I've just been putting in some hard training. I've really learned how to train hard and train fast. It's just paid off.
"This crowd was incredible here for Rebecca. I was actually a lot less nervous for this race than I was for my prelims. Just being in a race with those great girls was incredible."
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