Catholic swimmer Katie Ledecky named AP Female Athlete of the Year

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tamas Kovacs, EPA

By Kelly Sankowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Associated Press named Katie Ledecky the Female Athlete
of the Year Dec. 26, after balloting by U.S. editors and news directors.

a graduate of Little Flower School and Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart
in Bethesda, Maryland, received 351 points in the vote, placing her ahead of
tennis star Serena Williams, who received 343 points. She was the eighth female
swimmer to earn the honor and the first since Amy Van Dyken in 1996.

vote reflected Ledecky’s dominance in the July 2017 world championships in
Budapest, Hungary, where she earned five gold medals and one silver medal.

first entered the world stage as a 15-year-old in the 2012 London Olympics, the
summer after her freshman year at Stone Ridge. In that competition, she
surprised people around the world by winning a gold medal in the women’s
800-meter freestyle and finishing the race in record time. In 2016, she
returned to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and won gold in the 200-, 400-, and
800-meter freestyle races, gold in the 4×200 freestyle relay, and silver in the
4×100 freestyle relay.

is known for setting lofty goals for herself and achieving them, working hard
and taking part in grueling workout schedules.

part of her routine, she told the Catholic Standard archdiocesan newspaper
prior to the 2016 Olympics, is praying before races.

do say a prayer — or two — before any race,” Ledecky said. “The
Hail Mary is a beautiful prayer and I find that it calms me.”

Now a
sophomore at Stanford University, Ledecky also told the Catholic Standard that attending
Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Washington helped make her the person
she is today.

received an excellent, faith-filled education at both schools. Having the
opportunity to attend academically rigorous schools has facilitated my interest
in the world and in serving others, and has enriched my life so that it is not
solely focused on my swimming and athletics,” she said.

said going to these schools was also important to her swimming because they challenged
her and broadened her perspective and “allowed me to use my mind in ways
that take me beyond just thinking about swim practices, swim meets and sports.”

March 2017, Ledecky became the youngest-ever inductee in the Maryland Women’s
Hall of Fame, joining other esteemed women such as Harriet Tubman, Rachel
Carson, Clara Barton, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Ledecky is preparing for this coming March, when she will compete in the NCAA
championships with her Stanford teammates. During the last week of December, she
is traveling with the team to Colorado Springs, Colorado, for high-altitude

competing in the 2016 Olympics and before leaving for college, Ledecky visited
her alma maters to answer students’ questions and show them the medals that she
had earned. With those school visits, she said she hoped to make an impact.

the Olympics, she said she was “just praying to do my very best to
represent my country.”

always just use my faith to think, ‘I have been given this gift, and I want to
use it to the best of my ability,'” she said, adding that she doesn’t want
it to end there. She hopes her accomplishments will “inspire somebody or
make an impact of some sort beyond just getting a good time or getting a gold

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is a reporter for the Catholic Standard, archdiocesan newspaper of Washington.

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