2016 Swammy Awards: U.S. Female Swimmer of the Year

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Katie Ledecky (Photo: Simone Castrovillari)

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.

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Steve Nolan
4 years ago

I forgot Manuel was so close to winning the 50.

She had a pretty good meet.

bobo gigi
Reply to  Steve Nolan
4 years ago

Pretty good yes. 🙂

bobo gigi
4 years ago

Congrats to KL. Another year of mass destruction. What is weird and probably unfair is that I have the impression that we are so used to her amazing performances that we find them common. But it’s not common. She made distance swimming fun and that was not easy for everybody. Has she peaked in Rio? What can she do more? How can she stay focused and stay angry in training? Usually a distance swimming girl peaks between 15 and 20. Can she stay at the same level until Tokyo after leaving Mr Gemmell? But maybe she also needed a training change and a new training location to refresh mentally. She’s smart and has already shown a very good ability to… Read more »

Reply to  bobo gigi
4 years ago

Totally agree about KL trying the 400 IM. I imagine she’d swim it like Ye Shiwen did – hanging around until the last 100 and then absolutely blasting away the freestyle leg. Would be exciting against Hosszu, whose strategy is the opposite.

Reply to  IRO
4 years ago

To ” hang around ” she has to improve her back, fly and breast by more than 2 seconds each. Her backstroke technique doesn’t look promising by far. On the other hand by 2020 Hosszu (then 31) won’t be a factor any more. Will be Katie ready to compete in Budapest next summer? Her 400IM SCY month ago looked promising. But we have to remember that SC with its plenty of underwater benefits most sprinters and those who has stroke technique issues. And that is Ledecky as of today.

Reply to  bobo gigi
4 years ago

If you check Katie Ledecky’s wiki page you will notice that she started to mention 400IM in her “personal bests” list just recently after Rio. She is serious about this target. Similar thing has happened to her 100 pb when she announced 4×100 relay as a target.

4 years ago

Katie is setting distance swimming records that will stand for decades.

She will probably be the first woman under 15:00 for the 1650 free.

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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