2016 U.S. FEMALE SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: KATIE LEDECKY
After bursting onto the scene with a gold medal in the 800 free at the 2012 Olympics, teenage phenom Katie Ledecky quickly established herself as a staple of USA Swimming. While Ledecky was clearly the favorite to win the 800 free again at the Rio Olympic Games, she also swam the 200 free and 400 free individually this time around. She got things started with the 400 free, winning by 5 seconds and shattering the World Record. Then, she took down Sarah Sjostrom by 3 tenths to claim 200 free gold. Ledecky finished her individual run with another gold in the 800 free, winning by 11 seconds and smashing the World Record by 2 seconds.
While Ledecky has been clearly dominant in the distance freestyles over the last few years, she took things a step further when she became a valuable asset to Team USA’s 400 free relay and 800 free relay. It’s not surprising that she was a part of the 800 free relay that won gold considering she had risen through the ranks of the event individually since 2012. In the 400 free relay, however, she was somewhat of a surprise. In Rio, she posted the fastest American split in prelims, earning the anchor spot for the silver medal finals relay. All-in-all, Ledecky came away with 5 medals, 4 of which were gold.
In no particular order
- Simone Manuel– At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Manule pulled off a major upset in the 100 free, tying for gold with Penny Oleksiak. In doing so, she set a new American Record, as her 52.70 was the first sub-53 flat start done by an American. It also made her the first black woman to ever win an Olympic gold medal in swimming. Manuel then went on to take silver in the 50 free with a 24.09, which stands as the fastest time ever done in textile by an American. She just missed Dara Torres’ American Record and the gold by 2 hundredths of a second. In addition to her individual medals, Manuel earned gold as a part of the 400 medley relay and silver as a part of the 400 free relay.
- Maya DiRado– Going up against iron lady Katinka Hosszu was no easy feat at the Rio Olympics, but Team USA’s DiRado was up for the challenge. Though Hosszu took the early lead in the 200 back, DiRado came home like a train on the final 50. At the finish, DiRado out-touched Hosszu for Olympic gold. At the end of the meet, she headed home with 4 Olympic medals, as she also won silver in the 400 IM, bronze in the 200 IM, and gold in the 800 free relay.