Olympic athletes participate in dedication ceremonies all the time, sometimes it’s to satisfy their requirements to get a USA Swimming stipend; sometimes they’re paid an appearance fee; sometimes they just do it out of the goodness of their hearts.
For Katie Ledecky, though, participating in the dedication of the new $70 million Williston, North Dakota Recreation Center, there are very personal reasons.
The brilliant new 50-meter competition-caliber pool at the center is being named after her late maternal grandfather, Dr. Edward J. Hagan.
Hagan was a World War II veteran, a physician for 45 years, a 16-year president of the volunteer Park Board, and a lifelong resident of Williston, North Dakota, and was unabashedly an advocate for aquatics in the area. This is the second pool in Williston to be named after him – the town’s own pool was named the Dr. Hagan pool in 2004, a few years before his passing, and that name was transferred to this pool after its opening.
Among the honors bestowed upon the Olympian Ledecky: she will be invited to swim the “first lap” in the new pool on March 29th, one day after the broader center opens on March 28th.
“It means so much to be able to swim that first lap,” said Katie. “My grandfather loved his hometown and he loved his country. That’s why it’s extra special for me to swim at the pool dedication.”
Afterward, Ledecky may participate in some fun relays with the family members and swimmers of local swim teams.
See the video above for more details about the new center.