Getty Images

Swimming sensation Katie Ledecky has revealed she was left "speechless" after being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by United States President Joe Biden.

Ledecky was honoured for her remarkable accomplishments, boasting 21 medals earned at the World Championships alongside setting world records in both the 800m and 1500m freestyle events on 3 May.

The seven-time Olympic champion, who received the highest civilian honour in her homeland, has since revealed her shock at being presented with her medal at the White House in Washington DC, alongside Oscar-winning actor Michelle Yeoh and the first Hispanic woman in space, Ellen Ochoa.

Ledecky said, "I was speechless, It was pretty surreal," as reported by Sports Illustrated. "Just listening to all the accomplishments and all the impact that all of these individuals have made on our country was pretty inspiring. I think being young still, it does inspire me to continue to work really hard, both in the pool and out."

The swimmer was born in Washing DC and raised a couple of miles away in Bethesda, Maryland, near the nation's capital. “Obviously, growing up in this area, I know what a huge honour this is,” Ledecky told The Washington Post. “I feel very connected to this area. I know this is a national kind of award, but to me it feels almost local. I get to come home for this for a couple of days. This is my community.”

Olympic swimmer Ledecky was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by US President Joe Biden. GETTY IMAGES
Olympic swimmer Ledecky was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by US President Joe Biden. GETTY IMAGES

Ledecky emerged onto the global sports stage at the age of 15 during the London 2012 Olympics, clinching gold in the Women's 800m Freestyle. Holding the title of World Record holder in both the 800m and 1500m events, whether in the 50m or 25m pool, Ledecky is presently honing her skills in Florida alongside coach Anthony Nesty as she prepares for her fourth Olympic appearance representing Team USA at the Paris 2024 Games.

"I want to represent our team well in the pool and also help the younger swimmers coming up on these teams, make sure that they're feeling comfortable and confident. I'm really excited for this summer," she continued. "(I'm) continuing to put in the work. I got my swim in this morning."

Although Ledecky holds the distinction of being the inaugural swimmer to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, she won't be getting carried away, especially when she comes across fellow Maryland-born Michael Phelps in the future. "He still has way more (Olympic) medals than I do," Ledecky concluded.