Katie Ledecky has been named the Associated Press’s Female Athlete of the Year for the second time in her career.
The award is selected by a panel of 40 sports writers and editors from news outlets across the country.
Ledecky, who previously won the award in 2017, edged out American track star Sydney McLaughlin in balloting announced Wednesday.
The two tied in total points, but Ledecky got the nod based on 10 first-place votes to McLaughlin’s nine. Basketball standout A’ja Wilson finished third.
“I know so many great athletes have won this honor,” Ledecky said. “I’m really happy — happy with how my year went, and also excited about the future.”
Ledecky, who won her first Olympic gold medal in 2012 at age 15, has managed to stay on top in female freestyle swimming’s longest pool events for the better part of a decade.
She has held the long-course world record in both the 800- and 1,500-meter free since 2013, rarely facing a serious challenge in either of those grueling races.
At this year’s world aquatics championships in Budapest, Hungary, Ledecky touched first in the 800 by more than 10 seconds and won the 1,500 by nearly 15 seconds. She also claimed gold in the 400 free and was part of the winning U.S. team in the 4×200 free relay.
Before 2022 was done, Ledecky added two more world records to her ledger. She set short-course marks in both the 800 and 1,500 a week apart — even though she rarely competes in the 25-meter pool.
But the real enjoyment for Ledecky comes when no one is cheering her on, when it’s just her and her coaches and teammates, putting in the long, lonely hours of training.
“I might be one of the few swimmers who loves the training even more than the racing,” she said. “Don’t get me wrong: I love the racing, too. But I truly enjoy going to practice every day. I’m excited when I go to bed for practice in the morning.”