Shifting coasts and coaches after last summer’s Tokyo Olympics seems to have worked out just fine for distance freestyle ace Katie Ledecky as the American earns her second Female Athlete of the Year honours from the Associated Press.
The 25-year-old turned in another stellar performance at the World Championships and set a pair of World Records in the 25m pool en route to ending 2022 with Female Athlete of the Year honours from the Associated Press.
A global news service headquartered in New York City, USA, the Associated Press (AP) award selection came from a panel of 40 AP sports writers and editors.
Thank you @AP for the honor and thanks to my coaches, teammates, family, and friends for helping make 2022 a great year in and out of the pool 🏊🏻♀️ Putting in the work now to try to make 2023 better than 2022 🥳 https://t.co/F8ZSsPRzQY— Katie Ledecky (@katieledecky) December 28, 2022
The 2017 award winner edged out American track star Sydney McLaughlin. The two tied in total points, but Ledecky got the nod based on 10 first-place votes to McLaughlin’s nine. American basketball standout A’ja Wilson finished third.
“I know so many great athletes have won this honour,” Ledecky said to the AP. “I’m really happy — happy with how my year went, and also excited about the future.”
Ledecky first burst onto the international scene as a fifteen-year-old at the London 2012 Olympics. Qualifying third overall for the 800m freestyle final, Ledecky surprised the field by taking gold by more than four seconds – while also breaking the event's American record that had stood since 1989.
Ledecky has managed to stay on top in female freestyle swimming’s longest pool events for the better part of a decade, a run that has seen her take home seven Olympic gold medals and 19 World Championships titles.
“She’s always pursuing her personal best with fury,” said Dave Marsh, coach of the Rio 2016 U.S. Olympic women’s swimming team where the Washington, D.C. native bagged golds in the 200m, 400m, 800m and 4x200m freestyle.
“Where’s the fury coming from? We don’t know, but the stove is running hot.”
At this year’s World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, Ledecky won the 800m by more than 10 seconds and took home the 1,500m title by nearly 15 seconds. She also claimed gold in the 400m freestyle and was part of the winning U.S. team in the 4x200m freestyle relay.
World Record wink😜 Back to work😉 pic.twitter.com/rhlwGxn4VP— Katie Ledecky (@katieledecky) November 6, 2022
Don't look for Ledecky to miss any morning practices following the award: it's preparing for racing that she says brings her the most satisfaction.
“I might be one of the few swimmers who loves the training even more than the racing,” she said. “Don’t get me wrong: I love the racing, too. But I truly enjoy going to practice every day. I’m excited when I go to bed for practice in the morning.”
“I might be one of the few swimmers who loves the training even more than the racing. Don’t get me wrong: I love the racing, too. But I truly enjoy going to practice every day. I’m excited when I go to bed for practice in the morning.”
Change of Scenery for Ledecky This Past Year
Following last year's Tokyo Olympics, Ledecky was looking for a change back to the USA's East Coast after working with Greg Meehan and the Stanford University team she trained with and competed for while studying psychology.
In the fall of 2021, Ledecky moved from Palo Alto, California to Gainesville, Florida where she trains in a programme run by Anthony Nesty, the University of Florida's head coach, in a group that includes American distance freestyle swimmers Bobby Finke and Kieran Smith.
Gator 2022 World Championship Team 🌎— Gators Swimming & Diving (@GatorsSwimDv) May 28, 2022
We have a group of Gators heading to the 2022 World Championships in Budapest this June. Coach Anthony Nesty will serve as the USA Men's Head Coach! #GoGators pic.twitter.com/LWiinydF2G
“It’s been a lot of fun every day,” Ledecky said to the AP. “This is the right place for me to be at this point in my career. I’m training really well and learning a lot along the way.”