American swimmer Katie Ledecky has been nominated for an ESPY award for Best College Athlete after another record-setting season in the NCAA in 2017-2018. From 2002 through 2017, the award was given as two separate honors: one for Best Male College Athlete and one for Best Female College Athlete, but this year, ESPN has combined the two into the same category with two male and two female nominees.
Ledecky, who turned pro after her redshirt-sophomore season at Stanford last year, is one of 4 nominees for the awards.
2018 ESPY Award Nominees – Best College Athlete
- Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma Football – 2017 Heisman Award winner with 3rd-highest percentage in Heisman history; led Oklahoma to its third-straight Big 12 Championship; Ranked 2nd in the NCAA FBS with 4,627 passing yards in 2017; led NCAA FBS with a 198.9 passer rating
- Jalen Brunson, Villanova Basketball – Consensus First-Team All-American, won National Player of the Year awards from the Associated Press; Won Naismith College Player of the Year, John R. Wooden Award, NABC Player of the Year, CBS Sports National Player of the Year, Sporting News PLayer of the Year, Bob Cousy Award; Second-Team Academic All-America selection; helped Villanova win 2nd NCAA championship in 3 seasons; #33 pick in the NBA Draft by the Dallas Mavericks
- Katie Ledecky, Stanford Swimming – Two-time U.S. Olympian, won 3 NCAA Championships as a sophomore and 4 All-America awards, NCAA Champion in the 500 free, 1650 free, and runner-up in 400 IM behind teammate Ella Eastin; won Pac-12 titles in 400 IM (American Record), 200 free; CoSIDA At-Large Academic All-American of the Year; Finished career with 15 NCAA Record-setting swims
- A’ja Wilson, South Carolina Basketball – Swept the National Player of the Year awards; won a record 3rd-straight SEC Player of the Year Award; earned 3rd-straight Consensus All-American award; Broke South Carolina school record for scoring; #1 pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft by the Las Vegas Aces
The ESPY Awards, which stand for Excellence in Sports Yearly, is ESPN‘s annual awards program. The majority of the awards, including the one that Ledecky was nominated for, are decided in part by an online fan vote. Winners will be announced during the annual awards show on July 18th.
Last year, Ledecky was one of 4 nominees for Best Female Athlete as a result of her performance at the 2016 Olympic Games. Michael Phelps was also nominated last year for Best Male Athlete. Phelps was named the Best Male Athlete ESPY Award in 2009, while Amy Van Dyken is the only female swimmer to win Best Female Athlete – in 1997 (after the U.S.-hosted 1996 Olympic Games).
Ledecky is the only swimmer nominee for a 2018 ESPY. She’s also the only swimmer nominated for a 2018 Nickelodeon Kids Choice Sports Award.
Other Swimmers Who Have Won ESPY Awards:
- Missy Franklin won an ESPY for Best Female College Athlete in 2015. Katinka Hosszu, Natalie Coughlin, Caitlin Leverenz, Dana Vollmer, Kara Lynn Joyce, Tara Kirk, and Natalie Coughlin (twice) have also been nominated for that award.
- No male swimmer has ever been nominated for Best Male College Athlete (first awarded in 2002).
- Dara Torres won for Best Comeback in 2009 after she qualified for the U.S. team at the 2008 Summer Olympics at 41-years old ,where she won 3 silver medals.
- Erin Popovich, Jessica Long, Erin Popovich again, Mallory Weggemann, Jessica Long two more times, and most recently Rebecca Meyers in 2015 and 2017 have all won Best Female Athlete with a Disability awards. Swimmers have won 8 of the 12 awards given in this category. Triathlon has won 2, and no other sport has won more than once.
- Swimmers have been nominated for Best Male Athlete with a Disability 5 times, but have never won. That includes two-straight nominations for Brad Snyder in 2016 and 2017.
- The U.S. Men’s 400 free relay at the 2008 Summer Olympics won for Best Moment in 2009 (the “Lezak” relay).
- Phelps won “Best Record-Breaking Performance” three times – in 2009 for his 8 gold medals in Beijing; in 2013 for becoming the most decorated modern Olympian ever in London; and in 2017 for extending that record in Rio.