Gators swim coach Katie Ledecky wins AP Female Athlete of the Year award

Swimming star Katie Ledecky, who trained and coached at the University of Florida this year, was named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year on Wednesday.

Ledecky joined Florida’s swim staff as a volunteer coach in September 2021 after spending time at Stanford, where she competed and earned a psychology degree. Although the move across the country was big, Ledecky has little to no regrets regarding it.

“It’s been a lot of fun every day,” Ledecky said. “This is the right place for me to be at this point in my career. I’m training really well and learning a lot along the way.”

Since moving to Gainesville, Ledecky has done plenty of winning. She finished first in the 800-meter freestyle by more than 10 seconds at this year’s world aquatics championship, won the 1,500 free by more than 15 seconds, earned gold in the 400 free and won the 4×200 free relay with the U.S. team. She also claimed two more world records in the short-course 800 and 1,500 before the year ended.

The move to Florida has also brought out some competitiveness in Ledecky, not that she lacked any motor before. Practicing with the men’s team has opened her up to the world of trash talk, and she’s finally found her footing in her new environment.

“Guys are guys,” she said. “They love to trash-talk with each other. “I’ll poke a little fun at some of the guys, give them a little push here and there. I’m definitely pretty comfortable in this environment now.”

Ledecky doesn’t plan on slowing down, either. She’s currently focused on the 2024 Olympic games in Paris and expects to compete in the 2028 games in Los Angeles. By then, she’ll be 31, and learning how to keep her body fresh as she gets older is one of her major lessons from Florida coach Anthony Nesty.

There’s plenty left to be written in the book of Ledecky, and her time at the University of Florida could play a major part in keeping her on top of the swimming world. This is the second time she has received the AP honor, but no one should count on it being the last.

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