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2013 United States Swimmer of the Year Swammy: Katie Ledecky

This one was a really tough decision. Katie Ledecky vs. Missy Franklin. There were only really two choices for the 2013 USA Women’s Swimmer of the Year – and both are just teenagers.

They combined for all 6 American individual gold medals at the 2013 World Championships, to which Franklin added three relay golds and Ledecky took one as well.

How do you decide between the two? Franklin won 6 golds, and while Ledecky only won 4, she also broke two World Records (and very nearly got a 3rd). These two, arguably, had the two best World Championships in the history of FINA by women (Missy, statistically, won more golds at a single meet than any woman ever has).

So how do we split hairs? Much of the broader international media has focused on Franklin, who is the bigger name still because of her Olympic exploits.

Both broke National High School Records in 2013. Ledecky got the 200 Independent High School Record and the 500 overall record, while Franklin broke the 200 IM Independent High School Record (though Kaitlyn Jones later broke her mark).

Also not to be ignored on Franklin’s 2013 resume is that she won the 2013 USA Swimming Grand Prix Series title.

The question for us comes down to “were Ledecky’s records enough to overcome Franklin’s golds?”

Ledecky broke the World Records in the 800 and 1500 frees in long course, and broke them by-a-country-mile. She became just the second woman under four minutes in the 400 free in long course, just missed Federica Pellegrini’s World Record, and broke the American Record. Ledecky ended her year with one more American Record in the 1650 free at Winter Nationals.

Two World Records, and four American Records, were enough to tip this one over the edge in Ledecky’s favor. It wasn’t just the records, it was the way she broke the records. She left the 1500 World Record line in the dust, with a 15:36.53 to clear Kate Ziegler’s old mark by six seconds. She beat Lotte Friis in that swim, who was also under the old World Record. In the 800 she was an 8:13.86 – that was by a much smaller margin, but in a much bigger event.

Honorable Mention:

Missy Franklin, for the reasons stated above.

Comments

  1. Swammer says:
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    Both Katie and Missy had an extraordinary year. Congrats on the great performances representing the USA and for being role models for thousands of young swimmers like my two 8 and under swimmers

  2. Mike Rogers says:
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    You know all of these stories are interesting and all, but when are they going to release the biggest story of the year- Phelps coming out of retirement and dropping Speedo as his main endorsement. There is an undisclosed deal in the making with Under Armor and they will be launching a new product line called “Aqua Armor”

  3. BreakingBad says:
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    Mike Rogers – how do you know this if this is an “undisclosed deal” or are you just dreaming of a comeback and coming up with every possible idea?

    • Mike Rogers says:
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      @BREAKINGBAD – By undisclosed I mean I have no idea what the contract value is worth. But I do know that this is true. I don’t know when the news will come out but I would imagine within the next few months.

  4. bobo gigi says:
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    Amazing to not be swimmer of the year while you have won 6 gold medals at the world championships. Come on Missy, you will have that title plenty of other times in the next years.
    Well deserved for Katie. She was amazing, fantastic, unbelievable, fabulous in Barcelona. The 1500 free was a crazy race. The 800 free was great too. But the race which impressed me the most was weirdly the race without a world record at the end, the 400 free. 3.59 in textile is an incredible performance! And she has destroyed her opponents.

    • iLikePsych says:
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      Agree – it’s amazing that 6 golds doesn’t win you that but I would also give it to Ledecky. And I would also agree that her 400 was the most amazing at Worlds. She had already established herself in the 800 (and the 1650 wasn’t surprising either), but her triumph in the 400, an event she didn’t even make the Olympics in, showed that she can be THE women’s distance swimmer to beat in any distance.

      • SwimFanFinland says:
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        When comparing medals between Ledecky and Franklin one should bear in mind that three out of six golds won by Franklin came from relays, while Ledecky got only one by support of her teammates.

        It’s totally a different story how to evaluate their performances in relays.

        In my opinion, Ledecky is a justified choice over Missy this time.

        • aswimfan says:
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          I agree.

          Say, if both ledecky and franklin had swum for a country like Uganda, how many golds would they have won instead?

          In evaluating greatness in swimmer, we need to count individual efforts first and foremost.

          How many more golds do you think swimmers like Egerszegi, Klochkova etc woould have won had they swum for USA?

          • aswimfan says:
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            Or consider this:

            Shane Gould won 3 golds, 1 silver, 1 bronze at 1972 Olympics
            Libby Trickett won 5 golds at 2007 Worlds.

            Which one do you think had better meet?

  5. aswimfan says:
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    “These two, arguably, had the two best World Championships in the history of FINA by women”

    I think Braden Keith is really not a fan of the great swimmers of the yesteryear.
    Yes, Ledecky (and Missy) had really great World Championships, but best ever?

    I don’t think so.

    Consider this:

    Tracy Caulkins at 1978 World Championships.
    200 fly – Gold medal, World Record
    200 IM – Gold medal, World Record
    400 IM – Gold Medal, World record
    4×100 Free – Gold Medal, World Record
    4×100 medley – Gold Medal, Championships Record
    100 breast – Silver medal, under previous WR
    And if 4×200 free had been swum back then, she would have won it as part of the team too.
    So that’s 5 golds, 1 silver and 4 world records (including 3 individual WRs), which I think is better than both Ledecky’s and Missy’s.

    And then Braden also wrote this:

    “Missy, statistically, won more golds at a single meet than any woman ever has”

    umm no. Kristin Otto did it first in 1988 Olympics. And to add to that, Otto won 4 individual golds, compared to Missy who won 3 individual golds.

  6. WHOKNOWS says:
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    Both girls had three number one rankings world wide. Franklin’s 4th event ranked 4th and Ledecky’s fourth event was sixth.

    FINA Points:

    Ledecky – 1500 free – 1019; 800 free – 1001; 400 free – 991; 200 free 916… Grand Total – 3927

    Franklin – 200 back -1001; 100 back – 986; 200 free – 952; 100 free – 929… Grand Total – 3868

    Using FINA Points, Ledecky wins by a small margin.

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