2016 FEMALE SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: KATIE LEDECKY
Though Katie Ledecky has been an Olympic gold medalist since she won the 800 free at age 15 in 2012, the teenage distance phenom truly left made her mark on the Olympic stage in 2016. At just 19 years old, Ledecky returned to compete in the Rio Games, playing a much bigger role this time around. She represented Team USA in the 200 free, 400 free, 800 free, 400 free relay, and 800 free relay. At the conclusion of the Games, she went home with 4 gold medals and 1 silver medal. Individually, she was undefeated in Rio, having shattered World Records in the 400 and 800 freestyles.
The race for the Female Swimmer of the Year Swammy Award was a close one when we considered a certain iron lady, but Ledecky took the honors after we considered her recent yards performances in 2016. Despite her success on the international stage, Ledecky has decided not to turn pro. She’s currently swimming as a freshman at Stanford University, where she’s already had a huge impact for the Cardinal in the NCAA. It didn’t take long for Ledecky to start crushing records. She first did so in Stanford’s dual meet against Texas, taking down the NCAA Record in the 1000 free. She then went on to set NCAA Records in the 500 free and 1650 free at the Ohio State Invite in November.
FINA selected Katinka Hosszu as their Swimmer of the Year – our selection of Ledecky isn’t so much a disagreement as a difference in criteria. FINA doesn’t take into account yards swimming, which evens the playing field some between the two. Some of Ledecky’s best performances have come in yards, so factoring those back in makes her a solid front-runner for this award.
In no particular order
- Katinka Hosszu, HUN- The Hungarian iron lady made a redeeming appearance at the Olympics this summer. After narrowly missing out on a medal in 2012, she became on of the most dominant swimmers of the Games in 2016. Hosszu’s heavy training and monster in-season meet lineups paid off on the first day, as she won Olympic gold with a new World Record in the 400 IM. She went on to pick up another 2 golds with her swims in the 200 IM and 100 back, as well as a silver from the 200 back. During the short course season, Hosszu continued to dominate, winning her 6th straight FINA World Cup Series title and bringing in 7 gold medals for Hungary at the 2016 Short Course World Championships.
- Sarah Sjostrom, SWE- Sjostrom blazed to a sub-56 in the 100 fly 6 separate times in 2016, the fastest of which came in the Olympic final. In Rio, Sjostrom won her first career Olympic gold, setting a new World Record and taking down defending champ Dana Vollmer. She then became the first woman from Sweden to win an individual Olympic gold in swimming. That was the first of 3 medals for Sjostrom, as she also took silver in the 200 free behind only Ledecky, and bronze in the 100 free.