Swimming

2022 Swammy Awards: 2022 Female Swimmer of the Year – Katie Ledecky, USA

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By Spencer Penland on SwimSwam

To see all of our 2022 Swammy Awards, click here.

2022 FEMALE SWIMMER OF THE YEAR – KATIE LEDECKY, USA

The 2022 Female Swimmer of the Year Swammy goes to Katie Ledecky out of the United States. Having just turned 25 years old in March, Ledecky seems to have gotten back to her top form in her first full year since moving to Florida to train under Anthony Nesty.

The distance superstar kicked off her summer by going to the LC World Championships in Budapest. For the first time, Ledecky dropped the individual 200 free from her event schedule and that move seems to have paid off. She won four gold medals in Budapest, bringing her total LC World Champs medal haul to 22, passing Natalie Coughlin for the most LC Worlds medal by a female swimmer. She also was named FINA’s (now World Aquatics’) Female Swimmer of the Meet for the third time in her career.

In the women’s 400 free, Ledecky broke the Championship Record, swimming a 3:58.15. She also put up excellent times to win the women’s 800 free (8:08.04) and 1500 free (1500 free) 15:30.15. Ledecky also helped the U.S. women’s 4×200 free relay to victory and new Championship Record with a field-leading 1:53.67 split on the third leg. She was the only swimmer in the field to split under 1:54 in the race. Additionally, with Ledecky’s gold in the 800 free, she became the first swimmer ever, male or female, to win five consecutive World Champs titles in the same event.

Later in the summer, Ledecky went to U.S. Nationals, where she won all three events she competed in. Perhaps most impressively, she won a national title in the women’s 400 IM with a 4:35.77, setting a new personal best in the event. She also won the women’s 200 free in 1:54.50 and the 800 free in 8:12.03.

Following the summer, Ledecky made a very rare SC meters appearance, going to the Toronto and Indianapolis stops of the World Cup. While in Toronto, Ledecky won the women’s 1500 free in 15:08.24, breaking the World Record in the event by nearly ten seconds. The following week in Indianapolis, Ledecky set a new World Record in the women’s 800 free, swimming a 7:57.42.

Though none of her times were as fast as they were over the summer, Ledecky finished out her 2022 at the US Open, where she won all four of her events. Racing in LC meters, Ledecky won the women’s 200 free (1:56.74), 400 free (3:59.71), 800 free (8:13.90), and 1500 free (15:44.13). While most of those times were a ways off from her 2022 bests, it’s notable that’s Ledecky’s 3:59.71 400 free marked the 25th time in her career that she’s swum under 4:00 in the event, by far the most of anyone in history.

Also, after Ledecky’s performances in the LCM 800 free over the summer, she now holds the 27 fastest times in the history in the event.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

  • Emma McKeon (AUS) – The reigning Female Swimmer of the Year was Australia’s Emma McKeon, who had a historically great outing at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Following her Olympic performance, McKeon made the decision to sit out of the 2022 LC World Championships, instead choosing to focus on the Commonwealth Games. That decision worked out for McKeon, who was spectacular in Birmingham, winning eight medals, six of which were gold. Individually, she won gold in the women’s 50 free and 50 fly, also earning silver in the 100 fly and bronze in the 100 free. On top of that, McKeon won gold on the Australian women’s 4×100 free relay, 4×100 medley relay, mixed 4×100 free relay and mixed 4×100 medley relay. Her performance in Birmingham tied Susie O’Neill and Ian Thorpe for the most medal won in a single Commonwealth Games (8), while also breaking the record for most total medals won at the Commonwealth Games (20). McKeon was then prolific at the SC World Championships in Melbourne, winning seven medals, four of which were gold. She set new Championship Records in the women’s 50 free (23.04) and 100 free (50.77), also helping to break World Records in the women’s 4×100 free relay and 4×50 free relay.
  • Ariarne Titmus (AUS) – Although Australian superstar freestyler Ariarne Titmus didn’t do a ton of international racing in 2022, she still earned her spot on this list. At the Australian Swimming Championships in May, Titmus finally broke Katie Ledecky‘s LCM 400 free World Record of 3:56.46, swimming a 3:56.40. She then went on to the Commonwealth Games later in the summer, where she won four medals, all of which were gold. Titmus won the women’s 200 free, 400 free, and 800 free, also helping Australia’s women’s 4×200 free relay to victory.
  • Kaylee McKeown (AUS) – Australia’s Kaylee McKeown was another top-notch swimmer in 2022. She won 15 major international medals this year across the LC Worlds Champs, SC World Champs, and the Commonwealth Games. McKeown began her summer by winning four medals at the LC World Champs in Budapest. She won the women’s 200 back, also picking up silver in the women’s 200 IM, women’s 4×100 medley relay, and mixed 4×100 medley relay. She then went to the Commonwealth Games, where she won six medals, four of which were gold. McKeown won gold in the women’s 100 back and 200 back, picking up a bronze medal in the 50 back as well. She won gold on Australia’s women’s 4×100 medley relay and mixed 4×100 medley relay, plus silver in the women’s 200 IM as well. McKeown then capped off her year at the SC World Champs in Melbourne, winning five medals, including gold in the women’s 100 back and 200 back. She also earned a bronze medal in the women’s 200 IM, where she broke the Oceanic Record as well as the Commonwealth Record. McKeown also helped Australia to new Oceanic and Commonwealth Records in the women’s 4×100 medley relay.
  • Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) – Sarah Sjostrom was back in her element this summer, winning medals and breaking records. She went to the LC World Championships in Budapest, where she won three medals: gold in the women’s 50 fly, gold in the women’s 50 free, and silver in the women’s 100 free. Her gold in the 50 free marked her tenth individual LC World Champs gold of her career, making Sjostrom just the fifth swimmer in history to do so and the first European ever to win ten individual golds at LC Worlds. Sjostrom has now won a staggering 20 LC Worlds medals in her career, 19 of which came in individual events. Sjostrom then went to the LC European Championships in Rome, where she took care of business. She won five medals total at Euros, including gold in the women’s 50 fly, 50 free, and 4×100 medley relay. Sjostrom broke the record for most European Championships medals overall, now having won 28 LC Euros medals over the course of her career.
  • Summer McIntosh (CAN) – Our World Junior Female Swimmer of the Year, Canadian 16-year-old Summer McIntosh cemented herself as one of the premier female swimmers in the world currently. McIntosh is also the only swimmer on this list who put up elite times in LC meters, SC meters, and SC yards in 2022. McIntosh had a great summer, winning LC World Champs gold in the women’s 200 fly and 400 IM. She also earned the silver medal in the women’s 400 free and helped Canada to a bronze medal in the women’s 4×200 free relay. McIntosh then went on to win six medals at the Commonwealth Games, including gold in the 200 IM and 400 IM. After moving to the U.S. to train in Sarasota, McIntosh went to two legs of the World Cup for some SC meters racing. She set a new World Junior Record and Americas Record in the women’s 400 free, swimming a 3:52.80. She also set a new World Junior Record in the 400 IM, swimming a 4:21.49. McIntosh then raced at the U.S. Open, which is an LC meters meet. She set a new U.S. Open Record in the women’s 400 IM, swimming a 4:28.61. She also established herself as an elite backstroker, swimming a 2:07.15 in the 200 back. McIntosh then finished her year off by lighting the pool up at the US Speedo Winter Junior Championships – East meet, where she established some of the top times of all-time in SC yards racing.

PAST WINNERS

SwimSwam: 2022 Swammy Awards: 2022 Female Swimmer of the Year – Katie Ledecky, USA

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