From her first summer racing at the Palisades Swim & Tennis Club in Cabin
John, Maryland, to her record-breaking year for the No. 1 collegiate swim team
in the country, Katie Ledecky’s meteoric rise continues. At just 20 years old,
Ledecky holds the No. 1 International Swimming Federation (FINA) world
rankings in the 200m, 400m, 800m and the 1,500m freestyle.
Following her dominant performance at the 2016 Olympic Games, she earned
USA Swimming Athlete of the Year and Performance of the Year honors at the
U.S. Aquatic Sports Convention while also winning her fourth straight Female
Athlete of the Year honor at the USA Swimming Golden Goggle Awards. The
versatile Ledecky also made a splash at Stanford by putting up one of the best
freshman campaigns the sport has ever seen. She broke nine American and
12 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) records before finishing
her season with remarkable tenacity at the 2017 NCAA Championships.
Ledecky became the first collegiate swimmer in 29 years to capture individual
titles in the 200-yard, 500-yard and 1,650-yard freestyle at a single NCAA
Championships. She was also a member of Stanford’s American record-setting
400-yard and 800-yard freestyle relays. Her five titles helped lead the Stanford
women’s team to their first NCAA title since 1998. These accomplishments
made Ledecky the undisputed winner of the prestigious Honda Cup as the
nation’s top collegiate woman athlete of the year, becoming only the second
freshman to win this award.
The summer months brought more victories, accolades and shattered records
for Ledecky. She clinched the women’s overall arena Pro Swim Series title with
68 points scored across the series, which began in January. She also won the
women’s 400m freestyle at the Phillips 66 National Championships, breaking
her own United States Open record, while amassing more victories in the 200m
and 800m freestyle. Ledecky’s international season was topped off with her
dominating performance in the FINA World Championships in which she earned
five golds and one silver medal. Ledecky has now amassed a record 14 gold
medals at the FINA World Championships, the most by a female.
Her victories are almost too numerous to list, and Ledecky’s athletic
accomplishments will be remembered for generations. What first began for
her as a love of swimming has evolved into something legendary. After being
inducted into both the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame and the Washington DC
Sports Hall of Fame this year, it is without question that a renowned swimmer
like Ledecky is a rare and inspirational find. The Women’s Sports Foundation
is proud to honor Katie Ledecky with the 2017 Individual Sportswoman of the Year Award.
Every year, at our Annual Salute to Women in Sports, we recognize an individual sport athlete and team sport athlete whose performances over a 12-month time span have been exceptional. Past winners include Michelle Kwan, Simone Biles, Missy Franklin and Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Simply put: our Sportswoman of the Year Award is one of the most prestigious in the game. Learn more here.