Katie Ledecky joined a select group by earning her second Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year award.
Ledecky took the honor after winning all four of her races at June’s world championships and breaking Natalie Coughlin‘s female record for career world swimming medals (Ledecky is up to 22, including 19 golds).
She also became the first swimmer to win five consecutive world titles in one individual event by extending a decade-long win streak in the 800m freestyle.
Ledecky, who previously won AP Female Athlete of the Year in 2017, edged out 400m hurdles world record holder Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone in balloting. The two tied in total points, but Ledecky got the nod based on 10 first-place votes to McLaughlin-Levrone’s nine. A’ja Wilson, the WNBA and world championship MVP, finished third.
It was decided by a panel of 40 sports writers and editors from news outlets across the country.
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Ledecky became the sixth woman to win AP Female Athlete of the Year multiple times in the last 30 years.
The others were Serena Williams (five times), Annika Sörenstam (three), Simone Biles (two), Candace Parker (two) and Lorena Ochoa (two). Five won AP Male Athlete of the Year multiple times in that span: Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Michael Phelps and LeBron James.
Amy Van Dyken-Rouen, who won in 1996 after a quadruple gold performance at the Atlanta Olympics, is the only other female swimmer to win in the last 50 years.
The last Winter Olympian to win was Lindsey Vonn in 2010.
Ledecky goes into 2023 one individual world title shy of Phelps’ record 15. Competition may be tougher at July’s worlds in Japan if Australian rival Ariarne Titmus takes part after skipping this year’s worlds to focus on the Commonwealth Games. Rising Canadian Summer McIntosh, 16, has also become a threat in the 400m free.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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