Katie Ledecky named AP Female Athlete of the Year for second time as historic dominance continues

Katie Ledecky was named Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year for the second time on Wednesday.

A close second for the award was fellow world record-holder Sydney McLaughlin. The track star and Ledecky tied in total points, but Ledecky received 10 first-place votes to McLaughlin’s nine.

WNBA champion and league MVP A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces finished third and reigning NCAA champion Aliyah Boston of South Carolina was fourth.

The honor culminates a year of excellence for Ledecky, who moved from California to Florida to train with coach Adam Nesty in September. The coast-to-coast relocation paid off, as Ledecky notched four gold medals at the world championships in June and set two world records at the FINA Swimming World Cup in October.

Ledecky, 25, won the award for the first time in 2017 after she earned five gold medals and a silver at that year’s world championships in Budapest.

She has won seven Olympic gold medals and 19 world championship gold medals, the most in history for a female swimmer. Only Michael Phelps, who won 26, has more world championship gold medals.

Nov 5, 2022; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Katie Ledecky (USA) smiles while looking at the time clock after breaking the 800 meter freestyle swim world record during the FINA Swimming World Cup finals at Indiana University Natatorium. Mandatory Credit: Grace Hollars/The Indianapolis Star via USA TODAY NETWORK
Katie Ledecky broke two world records during the FINA Swimming World Cup. (Grace Hollars/The Indianapolis Star via USA TODAY NETWORK)

Focused on a fourth Olympics

“I'm definitely going through Paris, and maybe beyond as well. We'll see,” Ledecky said of her plans for a fourth Olympics after winning her third consecutive 800-meter freestyle gold medal at the Tokyo Games.

Her four-medal performance at the delayed 2020 Olympics was stellar, but less than some expected after she placed fifth in the 200-meter freestyle and helped Team USA earn silver in the 400-meter and 800-meter freestyle relay.

“It's not easy when your times are world records in some events,” Ledecky said after she won her first gold medal in Tokyo, regarding what it takes to maintain greatness.

“Expectations are never met. Nobody’s ever satisfied.”

“I'm always striving to be my best, and to be better than I've ever been,” Ledecky added. This is something she has done her whole career, well illustrated by this recirculating graphic that shows her dominance in the 800-meter free over the years.

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Even at the World Cup in October, she fought to beat herself.

Since 2013, she held the long-course world record in the 800-meter and 1,500-meter free. At the world championships, she challenged herself and set two world records in the less familiar short course.

Ledecky won the 800 by more than 10 seconds and won the 1,500 by almost 15 seconds. She also claimed gold in the 400 free and helped the U.S. team win gold in the 800-free relay.