Katie Ledecky Wins ESPY Award for Best Athlete in Female Sports; Caeleb Dressel Also Wins ESPY

Katie Ledecky -- Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Katie Ledecky Wins ESPY Award for Best Athlete in Female Sports; Caeleb Dressel Also Wins ESPY

The best swimmer in the world over the past decade has been recognized as the top female athlete in the United States over the past year. At the ESPY Awards held Wednesday evening in Los Angeles, Katie Ledecky received the award for Best Athlete in Female Sports. She was named the honoree over a field of nominees that included Olympic gold medalist gymnast Suni Lee, Paralympic superstar Oksana Masters and WNBA star Candace Parker. Ledecky was recognized for her efforts at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, where she won her third consecutive gold medal in the 800 freestyle, the first-ever gold medal in the women’s 1500 free and a pair of silver medals in the 400 free and 800 free relay.

Ledecky was also honored as the Best Olympian in Women’s Sports, while U.S. teammate Caeleb Dressel was recognized as the Best Olympian in Men’s Sports for his performance at the Tokyo Games, where he won five gold medals. Dressel finished ahead of Nathan Chen (figure skating), Declan Farmer (sled hockey) and Nick Mayhugh (track & field)

Additionally, Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long was honored as Best Athlete With a Disability in Women’s Sports after winning six medals (including three gold) at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, while Brad Snyder, a five-time Paralympic gold medalist in swimming in 2012 and 2016, was named Best Athlete With a Disability in Men’s Sports in recognition of his gold medal in Paratriathlon last year.

As Ledecky accepted the prestigious Best Female Athlete award, she recognized the most significant people in her swimming career, and she put out a plea for parents in attendance to make sure they teach their children how to swim. Finally, Ledecky encouraged everyone listening to find something they are passionate about and pursue that passion.

“I’d like to think that this ESPY is shared with everyone who has touched my life. I’ve been very lucky that through every stage of my swimming career, from age six, summer league swimming for the Palisades Porpoises to high school swimming, club swimming, swimming at Stanford and now swimming with Coach (Anthony) Nesty and my great teammates in Florida, they’ve all been there every step of the way and been the best support system,” Ledecky said.

“I represent one of the few sports that is also a really important life skill, so I want to encourage all the parents here, anyone watching, to make sure your kids learn how to swim. Our planet is 70% water, so it’s very important. Over 25,000 miles I think I’ve swum, so I’m finding that it’s very fun here tonight to be on land with you. And of course, I’d like to thank my parents and my brother. My brother, he’s the reason I started on a swim team. My mom taught us how to swim. There are just so many people that have impacted my swimming, my training, and I want to thank you.

“And I also want to say to all the young people out there, all the young kids, young adults, find something that you really love, that you’re good at, that can be a positive force in our world, something that can inspire somebody else, something that can help somebody else, anything that can change our world. I think there are so many heroes, not just in sports but all around us, some that we’re honoring here tonight, so look to those people for role models, and go for the gold.”

Ledecky recently finished off an impressive performance at the 2022 World Championships in Budapest, where she swept gold medals in the 400, 800 and 1500 free for the fourth time in her career, and she led the U.S. to gold in the women’s 800 free relay. The 25-year-old originally from Bethesda, Md., is expected to compete at U.S. Nationals next week in Irvine, Calif.

The full list of ESPY winners is available here, and you can watch the video of Ledecky accepting her award below.

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