Stanford's Ledecky named AP Female Athlete of the Year

Katie Ledecky with the 2017 Honda Award. Photo courtesy of Stanford Athletics.

First she made a lot of new friends. Then she set world records. Now Stanford sophomore swimmer Katie Ledecky can claim the title of Female Athlete of the Year as announced by the Associated Press on Tuesday.

Ledecky narrowly edged former Bank of the West Classic tennis champion Serena Williams for the award. Track and field star Allyson Felix finished third in the balloting.

Ledecky became the first swimmer to earn the honor since Amy Van Dyken in 1996 and the first active collegiate athlete to win since Rebecca Lobo in 1995.

Ledecky established herself as a top collegiate swimmer once she hit the water for her first competition, leading the Cardinal to its first NCAA championship title in 19 years. Not surprising given she has set 13 world records thus far.

As a freshman Ledecky set five individual American records and seven individual NCAA records in three different events, and broke Stanford team records in five individual events en route to five All-America honors.

At the world championships in Budapest over the summer, Ledecky won six medals to overtake Missy Franklin as the most decorated female swimmer in world championship history.

Ledecky, who was also named Female Olympic Athlete of the Year by the United States Olympic Committee, is a two-time Olympian and six-time Olympic medalist.

"It's a really great history of women swimmers and freestylers," Ledecky told AP. "I really look up to a lot of those women."

Ledecky and the Stanford women's swimming and diving team (3-0, 2-0) return to action with a pair of home meets against Arizona on Friday, Jan. 19 at 2 p.m. and Arizona State at noon on Saturday, Jan. 20.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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