Current and future Stanford Cardinal student athletes Simone Manuel and Katie Ledecky have been selected by ESPNW as two of the most influential people in women’s sports this year. The Impact 25 is an annual list that honors athletes with the most significant accomplishments in this last year and influencers, male or female, who broke barriers or made significant advances on behalf of women in sports.
Katie Ledecky is being honored as an “Impact Athlete” for her incredible performance at the 2015 FINA World Championships where she won four individual events, breaking three world records. Below is an excerpt from ESPNW’s Impact 25 list, written by ESPNW’s Dimity McDowell Davis:
With Rio looming, 2016 could certainly be Katie Ledecky‘s year. But make no mistake: Ledecky blew 2015 out of the water.
For folks who still might be unfamiliar with her name, Ledecky is the swimmer who dominated the 2015 FINA World Championships in spectacular fashion. Before the semifinals of the 1,500-meter freestyle, coach Bruce Gemmell told her to swim relaxed; the 18-year-old followed instructions, and broke the world record she set in 2014.
She followed up by breaking the record again in the finals (presumably swimming a little less relaxed) with a time of 15:25.48. But she wasn’t just golden in that race — Ledecky also won the freestyle events in the 200-, 400- and, with another world record of 8:07.39, the 800-meters, to become the first swimmer — male or female — to win four individual freestyle titles at a world championship. Then she anchored the 4 x 200-meter relay to victory.
If this is any indication, this year’s USA Swimming female athlete of the year could be right back on our list next December — this time donning Olympic gold.
Simone Manuel is being honored as an “Impact Influencer” after an incredible 2015 NCAA season. Manuel won the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle at the NCAA Championships. The 100 freestyle at the NCAA Championships was influential for many reasons. Not only did she break the American record in the event, she and two other African-American sprinters, Stanford’s Lia Neal and Florida’s Natalie Hinds, finished first, second, and third nationally. Below is an excerpt from ESPNW’s Impact 25 list, written by ESPNW’s Dimity McDowell Davis:
When Simone Manuel stood on the blocks of the 100-yard freestyle at the NCAA championships, she was already making waves.
Manuel, then a freshman at Stanford, was about to compete with teammates Lia Neal and Natalie Hinds — two other African-American swimmers. And having the trio line up for an NCAA final in swimming, a sport not known for being diverse, prompted commentator and Olympian Rowdy Gaines to tweet #history. Once Manuel hit the water, Gaines could’ve tweeted that again: With a time of 46.09, Manuel set both NCAA and American records. (Neal finished second, and Hinds third.)
Manuel also took the 50-yard freestyle title, and anchored Stanford’s 400-medley and 400-freestyle relays to victories, prompting another Olympian to comment. Missy Franklin called Manuel “fearless” and said she looked forward to having her as a relay teammate in next summer’s Rio Games.
ESPNW also teamed up with Marvel to honor this group of Impact 25 super heroes. Marvel illustrators created super hero depictions of everyone on this year’s list.
.@simone_manuel and @katieledecky as @Marvel superheroes?! ? @ESPNW‘s 2015 IMPACT25 » https://t.co/1ZPj5HEjHG pic.twitter.com/0LnxMleacq
— Stanford W. Swimming (@stanfordwswim) December 7, 2015