Katie Ledecky Wins Gold, Heads Back to School
08/06/2012 AT 02:55 PM EDT
"I'm really pumped to get back there and see them again, the 15-year-old and youngest member of Team USA, tells PEOPLE of reuniting with her classmates at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, Maryland, later this month. "I've been away for a pretty long time."
"They had a viewing party at my school," she adds of her gold-winning 800m freestyle race. "They got really excited."
Meanwhile, in London, the partisan home crowd (including Prince William and wife Kate) were cheering medal-holder Rebecca Adlington and made it especially noisy in the Aquatics Centre. It added energy Ledecky says she "tried to channel into my own race."
"It was really neat to have a crowd like that – it was something I'd never been in before."
The fact she won gold is taking time to set in, Ledecky adds: "It's all a blur." But she was confident from the start. "I felt I could be in the thick of things. I wasn't sure what the tactics were going to be in the race, and what anybody else was going to do. I just focused on my own race."
The focus paid off, and so has getting advice from fellow Olympians. "I've gotten a lot of advice from the veterans on the team – they've been really nice. It feels like I'm a part of the team, its not like I'm still a little youngster," she tells PEOPLE. "I feel like I've made really good friends on the trip and their advice has been great."
She adds: "I have great teammates and great classmates that I've been really close to who really understand what a commitment is."
And before she heads back to Bethesda, she and her family are again committed ... this time, to doing some sightseeing.