Katie Ledecky broke her tie with Michael Phelps by winning her eighth USA Swimming Athlete of the Year award.
Ledecky was named Female Athlete of the Year at the Golden Goggles awards in New York City on Monday night.
At June’s world championships in Budapest, Ledecky won all four of her events, capping the meet with an unprecedented fifth consecutive world title in an individual event (800m freestyle). She also broke two short-course world records this fall.
She was named Female Athlete of the Year over Katie Grimes, Torri Huske, Lilly King, Regan Smith and Alex Walsh.
“My very first goal in swimming was just to get across the pool for a 25-meter freestyle without stopping on the lane line,” said Ledecky, who also won Female Race of the Year for her 800m triumph at worlds. “Now I swim the long-distance events. You never know what impact you’re going to make by teaching young kids how to swim.”
Ledecky was Female Athlete of the Year six consecutive times from 2013-18, then again the last two years. Simone Manuel won it in 2019. There were no Golden Goggles in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Phelps was Male Athlete of the Year in 2004, 2007, 2008, 2012 and 2014-16. Phelps would have won it in 2003, but Golden Goggles didn’t start until 2004.
Bobby Finke, who trains with Ledecky in Gainesville, Florida, became the first distance swimmer to ever win Male Athlete of the Year at Golden Goggles. Carson Foster, Nic Fink and Ryan Murphy were the other nominees.
Finke took 800m free gold and 1500m free silver at worlds.
Swimming at this level was “something I didn’t really think I was going to be able to do until 2016. I was a 16-year-old kid and made my first Olympic Trials final,” said Finke, who also won Male Race of the Year for his 800m free win. “Ever since then, it’s just been a dream come true.”
Anthony Nesty, who coaches Ledecky, Finke and others at the University of Florida, won Coach of the Year.
Relay of the Year went to the women’s 4x200m free from worlds, which broke the championship record and distanced rival Australia by 2.41 seconds.
Leah Hayes, who took bronze in the 200m IM at worlds at age 16, won Breakout Performer of the Year.
Leah Smith, who bounced back from missing the Tokyo Olympic team to win relay gold and 400m free bronze at worlds, earned the Perseverance Award.
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