By USA Swimming | Tuesday, December 26, 2017
Katie Ledecky (Bethesda, Md./Stanford Swimming) was named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year on Tuesday, capping a brilliant 2017 for the five-time Olympic champion.
At last summer’s FINA World Championships, Ledecky continued her unprecedented run of international success in Budapest by winning six medals – five gold – and claiming her third straight world titles in the 400-, 800- and 1500-meter freestyle. Her 3:58.34 effort in the 400m free was a meet record and ranks as the second-fastest time in history. Ledecky added gold in the 400m and 800m free relays, as well as a second straight FINA World Championships medal (silver) in the 200m free. She owns a women’s record 14 career gold medals in FINA World Championships action, including 10 individual world titles – more than any other woman.
Competing in her first collegiate season for Stanford University, Ledecky made history at the 2017 NCAA Championships where became the first NCAA swimmer in 29 years to capture individual NCAA titles in the 200y, 500y and 1650y free, and was a member of Stanford’s American record-setting 400y free and 800y free relays.
Ledecky is the first women’s swimmer to earn AP Athlete of the Year honors since Amy Van Dyken in 1996 and the eighth of all-time. In 1931, the first women’s AP Athlete of the Year honoree was swimmer Helene Madison. Michael Phelps is a two-time selection on the men’s side in 2008 and 2012.
“It’s a really great history of women swimmers and freestylers,” Ledecky told the Associated Press about the esteemed list of past winners. “I really look up to a lot of those women.”
Ledecky is the first active college athlete to earn the honor since basketball star Rebecca Lobo in 1995.
Last month, Ledecky earned her fifth consecutive Female Athlete of the Year honor at the USA Swimming Golden Goggle Awards and was named Female Olympic Athlete of the Year by the United States Olympic Committee. Also in 2017, she was named the Women’s Sports Foundation Sportswoman of the Year and claimed the Honda Cup as the nation’s top women’s college athlete.