Katie Ledecky welcomed a 15-year-old breakout star to USA Swimming's Olympic squad by calling her 'the future' of the sport

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Katie Ledecky welcomed a 15-year-old breakout star to USA Swimming's Olympic squad by calling her 'the future' of the sport
Katie Ledecky (right) congratulates 15-year-old Katie Grimes after their 800m freestyle race. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
  • Katie Ledecky won the 800-meter freestyle at US Olympic Swimming Trials Saturday night.
  • Katie Grimes - a 15-year-old breakout star - finished in second place.
  • Ledecky welcomed Grimes into her post-race interview and called her "the future" of USA Swimming.

Katies are taking over Team USA.

Katie Ledecky - the five-time Olympic gold medalist who has long been the face of USA Swimming - is set to dominate her third career Olympic games in Tokyo this summer. And after winning her final race of US Olympic Swimming Trials Saturday night, the 24-year-old shared the spotlight - and a name - with Team USA's youngest up-and-comer.

Katie Grimes finished second in the 800-meter freestyle final to qualify for next month's Tokyo Olympics. The 15-year-old breakout star clocked an 8:20.36 finish - just over five seconds behind Ledecky - to achieve a personal best in the event and edge out 29-year-old Haley Anderson by just 15 hundredths of a second.

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Ledecky's first-place finish qualified her for a fourth individual event in Tokyo, but she recognized the significance of the moment for Grimes, who is now set to be the youngest swimmer joining Team USA at the Olympics. So after Grimes hopped out of the pool to share an emotional embrace with her family, Ledecky invited the teenager to join her post-race interview with NBC and heaped praise onto the young star.

"I think Katie squared is going to crush it in Tokyo," Ledecky said. "... I'm just so excited about this team that's coming together and getting to be on the team with somebody like Katie."

It's easy to draw parallels between Ledecky and Grimes. Ledecky was also just 15 years old when she qualified for her first Olympic games back in 2012 - making her Team USA's youngest participant in London. And like Grimes, Ledecky punched her first ticket to the Olympics in the 800-meter freestyle race.

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Grimes nearly qualified for the Olympics in Wednesday's 1500-meter freestyle final, but fell just short after touching the wall less than a second after the second-place finisher. Unsurprisingly, Ledecky won the event - which will debut at the Olympics this summer - by a whopping 11-second margin.

Katie Ledecky welcomed a 15-year-old breakout star to USA Swimming's Olympic squad by calling her 'the future' of the sport
Katie Ledecky (left) and Katie Grimes at US Olympic Swimming Trials. Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Still, she was impressed with Grimes' performance.

"I told her after her mile the other day, when she got third, I said 'you're the future,'" Ledecky said. But after Grimes' brilliant showing in Saturday night's 16-lap race, Ledecky tweaked that statement.

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"I told her after that, she's the now," Ledecky added.

Katie Ledecky welcomed a 15-year-old breakout star to USA Swimming's Olympic squad by calling her 'the future' of the sport
Katie Ledecky (left) congratulates Katie Grimes after her 800-meter freestyle swim. Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Grimes, who has far less experience in the limelight, said she was "just speechless" after securing her spot at the games.

Check out the clip of the Katies' post-race interview below:

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