Bethesda welcomes Olympians home with a party

Michelle Basch, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Three Olympians from Bethesda who competed in London this summer got a “Welcome Home” party Friday evening outside the Bethesda Metro station.

A crowd of at least 200 people came out to see Julie Zetlin, a rhythmic gymnast; Scott Parsons, a kayaker; and Katie Ledecky, the swimmer who won the gold medal in the 800-meter freestyle race.

“Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t accomplish something,” Zetlin told the audience. “Just go for it.”

Zetlin says she loves to see all the hometown support.

Parsons, a three-time Olympian, says despite the future’s uncertainty, he has one constant in his life.

“I’m always going to consider Bethesda my home and a very special place,” he says.

Dan Hellie, the NBC4 sportscaster who helped emcee the event, says Parsons is a lucky guy.

“He has the best commute in town,” Hellie says. “He walks two minutes to the river. How sweet is that?”

When 15-year-old Ledecky was introduced and took the microphone, the collective scream was long and loud.

She says after her big Olympic win, she approached one of her coaches to thank him.

“The first thing he said to me was, ‘Hey, You didn’t follow the plan,’ because he totally wasn’t expecting me to go out that fast,” says Ledecky.

After that, Ledecky says the coach told her what she did was still okay with him.

Bethesda can’t honor people with keys to the city because it is not a municipality.

Instead, the Olympians were honored with proclamations and plaques from local, state and national lawmakers.

Before the party started, Ledecky told WTOP she’s eagar to go back to school on Monday and return to her training.

“Two weeks [without training] is enough,” she says. “You can definitely feel the difference of not being in the water, but I’m getting back in next week.”

She says one experience from her Olympic adventure that really sticks out to her is attending the opening ceremonies.

As for her gold medal, when she’s not wearing it, she says it is kept safe and sound at home.

“I keep it in my parent’s room usually, or sometimes I keep it in my room,” Ledecky says. “We’re figuring it all out right now.”

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)