Two-time Olympian, five-time gold medalist, 14-time world champion and 13-time world record maker Katie Ledecky can claim another accolade, as the Associated Press has just named the Stanford sophomore Female Athlete of the Year 2017.
Ledecky is the first female swimmer, and the first college athlete, to receive the award in over 20 years.
Although usually granted to Americans, female athletes of all nationalities, age brackets and sports are eligible for the prestigious title. The champion natator earned enough votes (351) from sports journalists nationwide to nab the title just ahead of the tennis star Serena Williams (343) and track Olympian Allyson Felix (248). The male title-holder is professional baseball player and five-time MLB all-star José Altuve.
Such an achievement follows Ledecky’s record-breaking freshman year on the farm, within
the NCAA, and at the World Aquatics Championships.
After setting five Stanford team records, she aided the Cardinal in securing its first team title since 1998, beating runner-up Cal by the largest championship margin in over a decade.
Within the NCAA, the Maryland native set five individual American records, seven individual NCAA records and became the second freshman ever to receive the Honda Cup, awarded to the top female collegiate athlete in the nation.
At World Championships this past summer, Ledecky’s six medals earned her the title of most decorated female swimmer in championship history.
On top of these accomplishments, Ledecky was the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Female Olympic Athlete of the Year, Women’s Sports Foundation’s Sportswoman of the Year, and the youngest inductee into the D.C. Sports Hall of Fame.
Although the AP award may appear inconsequential amidst a sea of medals and honors, Ledecky’s nomination signifies the unique pace of her career and her status as a collegiate athlete competitive in the global arena.
The last female swimmer to receive the title was Amy Van Dyken, trailblazing Olympian and gold medalist, at the age of 23. At 20 years old, Ledecky is out-stroking the history books and all the competition in the pool.
Contact Sylvie Ashford at sylviash ‘at’ stanford.edu