2015 FEMALE SWIMMER OF THE YEAR KATIE LEDECKY
Don’t even try to argue. What we witnessed this year from the girl who is STILL in high school, more than three years since her stunning London performance, has been a series of performances that have seriously pushed the boundaries of what’s possible.
She was unstoppable at the World Championships this summer, sweeping the 200 through the 1500 meter freestyle races, taking out world powers in the 200 like Katinka Hosszu, Federica Pelligrini, and the sub-1:40 yards 200 freestyler herself, Missy Franklin. The 200 free isn’t even her race. And she still owned it. Remember when international news pundits shouted that Ledecky broke the 1500m free world record “without trying” at that meet in prelims? And then she lopped off another 2 seconds in finals of the event, only to go straight into the 200 free semifinals where she got into the final and went on to win? That’s just what she does. And you’d think she’ll start to slow down at some point, but… It. Doesn’t. End.
At the NCAP invite just a couple weeks ago, Ledecky moved up to the #3 all-time performer in the 200y free with a 1:41.04, and then swam a 4:28.17 in the 500. These times don’t even surprise you! She’s set the bar that high.
But then she swam the 1000 free. Her 200 and 500 were undoubtedly amazing– she’s the only female 500 freestyler to have ever broken 4:30, and she’s done it six times– but her 1000 was the big one. She dropped the first sub-9:00 swim in history, crushing an 8:59.65 which broke Katie Hoff‘s American record by over ten seconds. Ledecky negative split the swim by over two seconds. Her 2nd 500, a 4:28.75, is faster than any other swimmer ever besides herself.
2015 also saw her venture deeper into the 400 IM, an “off” event for her, but dare we say it. She blasted a 4:39.18 at the Arena Pro Swim Series in Minneapolis, good enough to make her the 14th fastest in American history at what was arguably not a peak meet for her. As we barrel headfirst into the Olympic year, make sure to look back and appreciate the wonder that is Katie Ledecky and all of her achievements in 2015.
In no particular order
- Katinka Hosszu
(Hungary): the Iron Lady was fierce this year, showing up to an absurd amount of meets and then winning an even more absurd amount of events. Hosszu notched many world records this season, though her big moment was in the 200 IM at the World Championships. While she’s an international stalwart in nearly any other race, Hosszu’s IMs are deadly. She blasted a 2:06.12 to just barely knock off Arianna Kukors‘ old mark of 2:06.15, but it didn’t matter if it was a matter of hundredths, tenths, or a full second. Hosszu, who has been incredibly successful in her illustrious career, finally earned the elusive long course world record she had been working towards for so long. In addition to that gold, where she repeated as world champion, Hosszu walked away with a gold in the 400 IM as well as a 200 back bronze.
- Bronte Campbell (Australia): Campbell, having been stuck in the shadow of older sister Cate after the latter won the 100 free at both the 2013 World Champs and the 2014 Pan Pacs (as well as winning the 50 free in 2014 and splitting a huge 51.85 in the Aussies’ win over the USA in the 400 medley relay), roared back at the 2015 World Champs. She was the sprint queen of 2015, touching first in the 50 and 100 free and splitting 51.7 not once but TWICE on relays for the Aussies.
- Sarah Sjöstrom (Sweden): Dana Vollmer muscled her way to the first sub-56 100 fly in history in London, but it’s been all Sjöstrom since then. This year, she torched the world record in prelims at the World Champs and then again in finals, pushing it to a 55.64 after the dust had settled. She also grabbed gold in the 50 fly, silver in the 100 free, and bronze in the 50 free. Sjöstrom was not alone for Sweden at the World Champs, as she was a part of a European record-setting 400 medley relay that earned the silver medal. She was less than 3 tenths away from splitting a 54 on butterfly. Finally, she led off Sweden’s 800 free relay in a 1:54.31, which would’ve beaten Ledecky in the individual 200 free. It’s unfair to say that she would’ve definitely beaten Ledecky had she swum the 200 individually, but Sjöstrom showed some serious guts in her 2015 performances.
- Emily Seebohm (Australia): The Aussie made Missy (and everyone else) look pedestrian in her incredible 58.26 100 back swim at the World Champs. She’s dropped IM from her schedule, and the focus on backstroke has done wonders for Seebohm, who has impressed this fall/winter after sweeping the 100 and 200 backstrokes at World Champs. At the World Cup series over the last few months, Seebohm won the 200 back at four stops, the 50 back at five stops, and the 100 back at ALL eight stops. She also nearly eclipsed her World Champs gold medal performance with a 58.34 at the Doha stop in early November.