2021 Swammy Awards: US Female Swimmer of the Year, Katie Ledecky

2021 U.S. FEMALE SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: KATIE LEDECKY

After a two-year hiatus from winning this award, Katie Ledecky is once again the winner of the Swammy for US Female Swimmer of the Year. 

Ledecky certainly wasn’t uncontested in this category, facing a strong Olympic performance from Lydia Jacoby, a dominant age-group season from Torri Huske, and a World Record-breaking short course season from Kelsi Dahlia. Ultimately, however, Ledecky proved to be one of the United States’ most valuable Olympic performers, taking home two golds and two silvers in Tokyo. She was the only US swimmer on the women’s side to win two individual events, joining Caeleb Dressel and Bobby Finke as the only US swimmers to win multiple individual events at the Games. 

Ledecky’s third Olympic Games did not start off flawlessly, as she lost her first race in a tight battle with Australian rival Ariarne Titmus. Going into the event, Ledecky had never lost an individual race at the Olympic Games. However, in the 400 freestyle, Titmus proved a formidable opponent, as the two posted some of the fastest performances in history in the event. Titmus’ time of 3:56.69 nearly broke Ledecky’s own world record of 3:56.46, while Ledecky placed second in a blistering 3:57.36. Despite losing out on the gold medal, Ledecky’s time still marked the second-fastest performance of her career, having only been faster in 2016. 

Following her battle with Titmus in the 400 freestyle, Ledecky easily bested the field in the inaugural edition of the 1500 freestyle at the Olympics, setting the first Olympic record in the event. Ledecky’s time of 15:37.34 bested runner up Erica Sullivan by over 4 seconds, despite being off of her own world record of 15:20.28. Ledecky also managed to pick up a silver medal anchoring the US women’s 4×200 freestyle relay with a blistering 1:53.76 split, surpassing the Australian team in the process. Even with a second-place finish, the American contingent managed to dip under the former world record set by China in 2009 during the super-suit era.

In her final race of the competition, Ledecky once again swam head-to-head against Titmus, getting her hand to the wall first this time in the women’s 800 freestyle. Ledecky held off a late charge by Titmus to touch in a time of 8:12.79, a second ahead of her Australian rival. With her gold medal performance, Ledecky became only the third woman ever to three-peat in an event at the Olympic Games and with her 7 total gold medals across all 3 Olympics she’s competed in, Ledecky became the most decorated female swimmer in Olympic history. 

Honorable Mentions 

In no particular order 

  • Lydia Jacoby – 17-year-old Alaskan Lydia Jacoby was one of the breakout performers of Tokyo, as she managed to fend off Olympic Record holder Tatjana Schoenmaker and world record holder Lilly King to win gold in the 100 breaststroke in Tokyo. Jacoby also picked up a silver medal as a member of the US women’s 4×100 medley relay team, capping off a successful Olympic campaign. Not only was she the only other US female swimmer to win an individual event, but she also became the first Olympic swimmer from Alaska. Jacoby’s rise to the Olympic stage earned her “Breakout Performer of the Year” honors at USA Swimming’s 2021 Golden Goggle Awards. 
  • Kelsi Dahlia – Despite failing to qualify for the US Olympic Team, Kelsi Dahlia had a fantastic SCM season competing in the International Swimming League. After dancing around the American record in the 100 butterfly all season, Dahlia exploded in the ISL finale to capture her first individual world record in the event, posting a blistering 54.59 in the process. During that meet, Dahlia also contributed to an unofficial world record in the mixed 4×100 medley relay, contributing a 54.97 split on the butterfly leg. Interestingly, Dahlia now holds the most current world records of any female swimmer, tied with Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom with a total of 5 across LCM and SCM. 
  • Torri Huske – After rising through the age group rankings and earning herself several medals at the 2019 World Junior Championships, Torri Huske looked poised to make her mark in 2021, and she did not disappoint. After trading some of the fastest swims in American history in the 100 butterfly with fellow age-grouper Claire Curzan, Huske exploded to take down Dana Vollmer’s American record in the event at the US Olympic Trials. She later lowered it to a 55.66 in a historic 100 butterfly final in Tokyo where Huske found herself off the podium by .01. Despite failing to medal individually, Huske did pick up a silver medal as a member of the US women’s 4×100 medley relay.

Previous Winners

 

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Joel
1 year ago

What are the 5 WRs that Dahlia has?

Troyy
Reply to  Joel
1 year ago

Four of them are relays while only one of Sjostrom’s is a relay.

McKeown-Hodges-McKeon-Campbell
Reply to  Joel
1 year ago

w4x100 medley LCM
w100 fly SCM
w4x50 medley SCM
w4x100 medley SCM
mixed 4×50 free SCM

vs sjostrom’s 4 individual LCM WRs plus w4x50 medley SCM. the first 2 I listed are really the only WRs that matter (arguably the 4×100 SCM too, but she’s the weak link on the lcm wr), but dahlia obviously benefitted hugely from being an american sprinter, so it really isn’t fair to say she’s on sarah’s level. (although I do remember someone being pretty quick to change sjostrom pic to dahlia on wikipedia’s wr listing, which has since been reverted and rightly so)

which reminds me of a thought I had a few months ago. until 1964, each swimmer could… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by McKeown-Hodges-McKeon-Campbell
Admin
Reply to  Joel
1 year ago

100 fly SCM, 400 medley relay LCM and SCM, 200 medley relay SCM, mixed 200 free relay SCM.

The condors were robbed
1 year ago

Manuel?

Marklewis
1 year ago

Katie has 7 Olympic gold medals, not 6. And 3 silvers for a total of 10.

Robbos
1 year ago

Not her best year, but still wins 2 golds, wins a silver with her 2nd best ever time, only beaten by someone who pushed herself to Ledecky’s level.

She is the GOAT.

Mr Piano
Reply to  Robbos
1 year ago

And she won the 800 and 1500 in what would be WR times if it weren’t for her.

Marklewis
1 year ago

Should have been Regan Smith’s year for Olympic gold, but it didn’t pan out that way.

Regan swam a great 200 fly in Tokyo though. I loved her quote after the race. “I usually die at the end of that race. But I told myself “Not today!”

Klorn8d
1 year ago

Sullivan, weitzel, flickinger, king, Douglass, Walsh, wet ant and ESPECIALLY regan smith deserve honorable mention over dahlia

M d e
Reply to  Klorn8d
1 year ago

It’s swimmer of the year, not swimmer of the LC season/olympics.

Dahlia broke a WR. Deserves the honorable mention.

Hswimmer
1 year ago

Change it up a bit. Tbh Dahlia deserves some type of award.

Big Mac #1
Reply to  Hswimmer
1 year ago

Gold medal where? It is an an Olympic year bub.

Last edited 1 year ago by Big Mac #1
Hswimmer
Reply to  Big Mac #1
1 year ago

I didn’t say for this award

Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
1 year ago

GOAT

Ketamine
Reply to  Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
1 year ago

Katie Grimes will beat her in the 800 and 1500 free for a decade at least. Don’t worry about that.

Forget about the 200 and 400. Titmus and Mcintosh are built different.

Genetics >> Hardwork

jojo74
Reply to  Ketamine
1 year ago

cry about it. she’s been (way) better than the rest of the world in at least one (for the majority of the time 3) event(s) for 9 years, none of the other swimmers u mentioned have done that or will likely do that in the next decade. hence the GOAT label 🙄🙄

Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
Reply to  Ketamine
1 year ago

LOL

Genevieve
Reply to  Ketamine
1 year ago

Happy birthday Timothée Chalamet!

katie’s gator cap :)
Reply to  Ketamine
1 year ago

cry about it

Titmus will go 3:54 in Fukuoka
Reply to  Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
1 year ago

Ariarne will smash your Kathleen Genevieve Lechoker next May. At least 2 body lenghts.🤷‍♂️🤷‍♂️

Getting run down is Ledecky‘s new routine 🤣🤣

Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
Reply to  Titmus will go 3:54 in Fukuoka
1 year ago

she needs to win the 800 and break a long course world record first and then you can talk

Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
Reply to  Titmus will go 3:54 in Fukuoka
1 year ago

Swimfan I know it’s you

About Nicole Miller

Nicole Miller

Nicole has been with SwimSwam since April 2020, as both a reporter and social media contributor. Prior to joining the SwimSwam platform, Nicole also managed a successful Instagram platform, amassing over 20,000 followers. Currently, Nicole is pursuing her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. After competing for the swim …

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