By Karen Price | Dec. 26, 2017, 5:41 p.m. (ET)
Katie Ledecky attends the 2018 Breakthrough Prize at NASA Ames Research Center on Dec. 3, 2017 in Mountain View, Calif.


There are very few honors left to bestow upon Katie Ledecky that the two-time Olympic swimmer hasn’t already received, and yet she added another to the résumé on Tuesday. 

Ledecky was named the Associate Press Female Athlete of the Year, beating out fellow Olympians Serena Williams and Allyson Felix to become the eighth female swimmer and first since Amy Van Dyken 21 years ago to win the award.

The 20-year-old Ledecky, who is a sophomore at Stanford, also becomes the first active college athlete to win since UConn basketball player Rebecca Lobo in 1995.

Ledecky made her Olympic debut in 2012, winning a gold medal in the 800-meter freestyle as a 15-year-old, and became a full-fledged superstar in 2016 when she won another four gold medals and a silver medal at the Olympic Games in Rio.

This year, Ledecky surpassed her 2016 Olympic haul at the FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, where she won five gold medals and one silver medal, making it her most successful major international meet ever. The only female swimmer to win more gold medals at a single world championships was Missy Franklin, who won six in 2013. With 14 world championships wins, Ledecky is now the most decorated female swimmer in the event’s history.

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Ledecky’s performance in Budapest came after one of the most dominant freshman seasons in college swimming history during which she won five NCAA titles as well as the team title.

The good times have continued.

Late last month Ledecky was named Female Olympic Athlete of the Year for the second year in a row at the Team USA Awards, presented by Dow, and earlier this month the Stanford sophomore was named Pac-12 women’s swimmer of the month after winning eight races and setting a new American record in the 1,650-yard free. 

Voting on the awards is done by U.S. editors and news directors. The AP Male Athlete of the Year will be announced on Wednesday. Ledecky was the runner-up for last year’s award to U.S. gymnast Simone Biles.

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.