2016 Swammy Awards: Female Swimmer of the Year Katie Ledecky

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Katie Ledecky (Photo: Tim Binning)

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.

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Steve Nolan

Guessing not factoring in yards AND Hosszu’s performance at the SCM WCs had a big part in her winning FINA’s award.


Fina announced Swimmer of the year before the SC WCs, it is more about individual medals at Rio and WR is not a factor.

Jim C

FINA announced the awards after the World Cup and I’m sure Hosszu got far more orld Cup points than she did Olympic points.

Baker\'s Pearl Earrings

Hosszu>Ledecky in 2016. At the Olympics she won 3 individual gold and 1 silver compared to Ledecky’s 3 gold. One of the only people ever to win Olympic gold in a 100, 200, and 400 (Hosszu, Phelps, and Egerszeki are the only ones that come to mind). Also she won the World Cup and won 7 individual golds at sc worlds.


Good point, but another factor to consider would be quality. Hosszu had an outstanding 400 IM (WR), a surprising 100 back, and then was slightly underwhelming in the 200s (all of this is just for Rio, cuz that’s what matters the most). Ledecky set WRs in the 400/800 free, and didn’t really have any underwhelming races in Rio.


No one had started yet, but I’m just gonna bring up something. I’m curious why so many people said would like to see Ledecky go after 400IM. I understand she has a lot of potential at that event, but what about 200 free? To me she seems very proud of being a freestyler, I wonder if that record is in her mind or not… To do that she needs speed, I don’t think training for back and breast will help her achieve it. In my opinion, succeed a Fede’s record will be much cooler than to beat Hosszu. And if she hold 200 400 800 1500 free WRs at all, will she be consider the greastest freestyler of all time?… Read more »


Can not be more agree with your statement. Should she manage to swim under 1:53 and to be with that a World Record Holder from 200 through 1500 it would much more monumental task than to win some meet with unclear quality of competition in the weirdest race as 400 individual medley. It makes sense if teams compete in medley relay where each leg is represented with the strongest member of the team in each discipline. In contrast IMers are not the strongest in anything. In the best case scenario they have one or two legs where they are just good. If Katie Ledecky wins IM competition it would be mostly because she is so dominant in freestyle and isn’t… Read more »


Swim at mediocre level different strokes?!?
The best Imers are often swimming genius, capable to sum up different swimming skills, great in transitions from a style to another, efficient and “easy” in every style.
There is an (obvious) swimming versatility and is in the individual medley races.


I won’t consider Lochte or Hosszu as a genius, I think they are hard workers. The only genius at IM, well, we all know who he is. lol You brought up a good point, IMer need to be so good at transitions and all 4 strokes, they need to train for so many things. And that’s what I want to say, if Ledecky trained for IM, I’m pretty sure it will affected her other events somehow. The time for training IM, muscle build up like Hosszu, I doubt she can get closer to Fede’s record at that circumstance. I saw a couple times Bobo brought up said he liked to see Ledecky trains for 400IM, I’m just wondering is he… Read more »


Of cause it is all a matter of taste. I have never consider decathlon athletes the most versatile or genius. But it all depends on the angle of view. One can consider 200m free distance in swimming as consolation race for those poor things who are not able to succeed as sprinters at 50 and 100 and are getting quickly out of breath at 400 and longer distances. It is mostly true. But when I am thinking about Federica Pellegrini and her 200 performances I cannot think of her other than genius.

Coach Mike 1952

If you recall, a certain phenom from Down Under – Shane Gould – is the only swimmer in history to hold all LC freestyle world records, 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m (plus the 200m Individual Medley) at the same time. They were not contesting the 50 at that time. No one has ever matched that. I believe KL will indeed get the 200 free WR, but sad to say likely not the 100 (at this point, at least!).

Jim C

It has been 3 years and 5 months since Ledecky set her first two WRs. 3 years and 5 months after Gould set her first WR she no longer held any WRs.

About Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh is a former NCAA swimmer at the University of Arizona (2013-2015) and the University of Florida (2011-2013). While her college swimming career left a bit to be desired, her Snapchat chin selfies and hot takes on Twitter do not disappoint. She's also a high school graduate of The …

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