Katie Ledecky Wins 4th-Straight USA Swimming Athlete of the Year Award

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 19

September 24th, 2016 National, News

On Saturday evening in Atlanta at the United States Aquatic Sports Convention, Katie Ledecky was named the USA Swimming Athlete of the Year for a record-breaking 4th time.

Ledecky became just the second woman in history to win the 200, 400, and 800 freestyles at the same Olympic Games in Rio, and added a relay gold in the 800 free relay and silver in the 400 free relay.

The haul included World Records in the 400 free (3:56.46) and in the 800 free (8:04.79), both by astounding margins. The latter of those swims earned the Performance of the Year honor as well.

“I am so grateful and honored to receive these awards, and also to have had the opportunity again to represent the United States at the Olympic Games on another tremendous National Team,” Ledecky said. “I want to thank my family and local community, my NCAP and Team USA teammates, coaches and staff, USA Swimming, Phillips 66 and everyone who continues to support Team USA and the sport of swimming,” Ledecky said. “Special thanks must go to my coach Bruce Gemmell and trainer Lee Sommers for their knowledge, dedication, and hard work in helping me become a better swimmer.”

A complete list of winners:

  • Female Open Water Swimmer of the Year: Haley Anderson (Trojan Swim Club)
  • Fran Crippen Memorial Male Open Water Swimmer of the Year: Jordan Wilimovsky (Team Santa Monica)
  • Glen S. Hummer Award: Catherine Vogt (Trojan Swim Club)
  • Adolph Kiefer Safety Commendation Award: Jill White (Starfish Aquatics Institute)
  • Trischa L. Zorn Award: Rebecca Meyers (North Baltimore Aquatic Club)
  • James Raymond “Jimi” Flowers Disability Coach of the Year: Tom Hazelett (YMCA of Triangle Area)
  • Outstanding Disability Service Award: Bill Keating (Cincinnati Marlins)
  • Make a Splash Hero Award: Bob Crunstedt (Minnesota Swimming)
  • Safe Sport Impact Award: Paul Stauder (Indiana Swimming)
  • Diversity Inclusion Award: Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. (organization); Tommy Jackson (individual, City of Atlanta Dolphins)
  • Kenneth J. Pettigrew Award: Bob Griffiths (Carrollwood Village Swim Team)
  • ASCA Coach of the Year (Presented at the ASCA Convention): Dave Durden (Cal Aquatics)
  • Developmental Coach of the Year: John Morse, Doug Wharam (Nashville Aquatic Club)
  • Athletes’ Appreciation Award: John Morse (Wichita Swim Club)
  • Phillips 66 Performance of the Year Award: Katie Ledecky, 800m Freestyle, 2016 Olympic Games (Nation’s Capital Swim Club)
  • USA Swimming Athlete of the Year: Katie Ledecky (Nation’s Capital Swim Club)
  • USA Swimming Award: Travis T. Tygart, United States Anti-Doping Agency

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bobo gigi

KL broke her 400 free world record by almost 2 seconds. I prefer that race as performance of the year. But the 800 free was insane too. Anyway I doubt she will rebreak one day those world records. They are at such a crazy high level now. She has peaked for that year and her training at NCAP was perfect. She’s human and her distance freestyle times will inevitably decline while being older. I’ve no idea if that’s her plan or not but in my opinion her next challenge to keep motivation is to train seriously for the 400 IM at Stanford. It would be great to see her challenge Hosszu on her home soil at worlds in that event.… Read more »


I agree with you on her 400 free being more impressive, but not on her declining at Stanford. She’s trained with Meehan before, through national teams etc. and Gemmell has been there with Meehan telling him the ins and outs of training Ledecky. Meehan has also said in the past that if he ever encounters any problems or has any questions while training Ledecky he will not hesitate to ask Gemmell. They know Ledecky is a once in a lifetime athlete and they know they must do their best to preserve her talent. I trust Meehan, he’s shown in the past he’s a very very good coach, with Eastin, Manuel, Neal and Dirado. Ledecky is in good hands.

Alex Simmonds

I also agree about the 400free performance, but i think she wont decline in 2017 wc. I believe she have one last goal in 800 which is break 8 minute from her 3.56.46 her 800 in olympics should be 8.03.00 so i think she maybe underperform or tired a bit in 800 olympics 2016
If i have to predict in 2017 she will improve a bit may be 3.54.5-3.55.5 and 800 will be 7.59.5-8.01
In 2019,2020 she will be stagnant at that time
And start in 2021 she will start decline, but unless there are phenom in 400 and 800 she will still dominate until 2024.

Alex Simmonds

Also if we look that carlin and boyle still world class at that age there is no reason katie cant still be world class in her 25-27 yrs old


Remember, Ledecky was pretty decent (to say the least) before Gemmell. She’s managed one coaching transition, so I doubt it will happen. We really don’t know about the decline in distance swimming performance for women in this era, because we haven’t had a standout during the true pro era. Vivian Cheruiyot won the gold at Rio in the 5,000 meters in track (roughly the same time/distance equivalent as the 1500 meter free) at age 33. Molly Huddle, the U.S. runner in the event who was first at Olympic Trials was also over 30. Kim Brennan, age 31, won the Olympic single sculls in rowing (roughly equivalent time/distance to the 800 meter free). If anything, other sports and athletes tell us… Read more »


Bobo I disagree. WR in 200 free should be 2017-18 goal. That will motivate her more.


Katie Ledecky is much more ambitious than that. Sure she wants to be a record holder from 200 through 1500. The incredible achievement that was done only once by Shane Gould almost half a century ago. But in contrast with Shane records that stood for months Ledecky’s records won’t be beaten for many years. And it is not it I think. How many swimmers do we know who were awarded Olympic medals for achievements at 100, 200, 400 and 800 distances? Same Shane Gould and Shirly Babashoff I guess. And again it was 40 plus years ago when the competition level was quite different. She is already a strong contender for being #1 American sprinter at 100 and who knows… Read more »

SuperSwimmer 2000

To some extent I agree. There will come a point where her body won’t let her break world records ever time she swims. She will eventually have to wait until she tapers. I’m not sure she has reached that point yet. (well, maybe she has for the 400). I think she has more than a couple WR swims left. Not sure why anyone would write her off yet.

Scott Morgan

Agreed. Based on her 800 time, I think she can take another hatchet to the mile record.


Will her body allow her to train at peak world class levels for another four years without a break?


This is one of the reasons Ledecky’s decision to attend college instead of go pro is a calculated risk. By going to Stanford she loses control over her training for the next four years. If she stayed with Gemmel she could have taken a year off. Frankly had I been her coach I would have suggested no training at all until next year. But the coaches at Stanford will make no such allowance nor should they.


Gemmell and Meehan are in close contact, they both want what’s best for Ledecky. They’re two of the greatest coaches in the world right now, I’m sure they know what they’re doing. I trust them


Meehan has done very well with Simone and Maya. It shows he can coach a variety of swimmers (not just one swimmer).

SuperSwimmer 2000

Has there been any evidence of her slowing down?


No evidence at all. But there is a limit to any elite athlete’s ability to maintain world class conditioning and peak training. Ryan Lochte went at least ten years without a break before he began to slow down a few years ago. Missy Franklin didn’t last five years before she began to experience what looks to me like the results of long term overtraining.

And Katy Ledecky has limits too though we have yet to see them. I just hope that she isn’t overtrained by another four years of competitive swimming.


Who is Lee Sommers?
Katie Ledecky: “Special thanks must go to my coach Bruce Gemmell and trainer Lee Sommers for their knowledge, dedication, and hard work in helping me become a better swimmer.”
Katie does it the second time. It is not often when personal trainer receives such recognition.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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