Olympic gold medalist and Stanford swim recruit Katie Ledecky of Bethesda, Md., has been honored by the French newspaper L'Equipe as the women's international "Champion of Champions" for 2014 for her record-setting season.
Ledecky, who recently signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Stanford next fall, is the first swimmer to earn the prestigious award, which has been presented annually since 1980. This year marked the third occasion that top male and female athletes were each honored.
Past winners included tennis star Serena Williams, basketball's Michael Jordan, track star Usain Bolt, tennis great Roger Federer and soccer icon Lionel Messi. In addition to the international award, L'Equipe also honors France's top male and female athletes annually.
"I am very honored to receive this award and international recognition from L'Equipe, and I'd like to thank its journalists for this prestigious accolade," said Ledecky, who was unable to attend last Friday's live, televised award ceremony in Paris due to her school and training schedules, USA Swimming reported.
The 17-year-old Ledecky swam to five world records last summer. She set global standards in the 400- and 1500-meter freestyle events on back-to-back nights at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships, and in Australia became the first woman to win four individual gold medals at a single Pan Pacs as she took the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m free and added gold in the 800m free relay.
At the 2014 Phillips 66 National Championships, Ledecky won titles in the 200m, 400m and 800m free. Earlier this month at the AT&T Winter National Championships, Ledecky won three events and set an American record in the 1650-yard free.
Ledecky was named USA Swimming's Athlete of the Year for the second straight year.