There are sports superstars that everyone around the world is familiar with. People like LeBron James, Serena Williams, Tom Brady, Megan Rapinoe, Lionel Messi, or Siya Kolisi are instantly recognizable on a global scale thanks to their talent and achievements at the highest level. Some stars, however, become famous before reaching adulthood. A few sportsmen and women have the rare talent that allows them to reach the peak of their sport while at university. Sometimes, they can become stars of the collegiate sports world. In this post, we look at one of these college superstars: Katie Ledecky.
Dominant is a word we use every day, yet it is something that is very rarely seen in college sport. There are very few college athletes that have taken the world by storm and become a household name. But one star in particular not only became a college star, but was a household name in high school. Once she stepped up to college level, she was unstoppable, leaving an indelible mark on college sports. Her name? Katie Ledecky.
Kathleen Ledecky, affectionately known as Katie, may be the greatest college athlete we have ever seen. Katie was born on 17 March 1997 in Washington D.C, and has dominated the sport of swimming at every level. From high school, to college, to the biggest sporting event in the world, the Olympics, Katie has done it all!
Going to Stanford
Katie Ledecky started her college career at Stanford University in California in the fall of 2016. “I’m only 19, and I don’t feel like I need to represent something bigger than my teammates, coaches, friends and family.” Katie said at the time. “Down the road I want to be a professional swimmer, but first I want to get an education.”
In August 2016, Katie started off her (extra)ordinary college journey as a freshman, same as anyone else. Katie arrived at Stanford fresh off of her incredible performance at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where she won 5 medals (four gold, one silver). She also broke the world records in the 800m and 400m freestyle events, to add to her achievements at London 2012.
During Katie’s freshman year at Stanford University in 2016-17, she would win countless awards. These included the Honda Cup (an award given to the country’s top female collegiate athlete) and the Pac-12 Swimming Newcomer of the Year. She also became a five-time NCAA champion (the most in the nation) and a four-time Pac-12 champion.
She would also go on to break Stanford records in the 100m, 200m, 500m, and 1650m freestyle and the 400m individual medley. Not bad for a first year in college sport!
A One-of-a-kind impact
Even with her high profile as a two-time Olympian, Katie Ledecky took the college world by storm. “If you were to see her in practice day-to-day you would understand why she’s the star she is. She takes every opportunity she can get to make herself better and make those around her better.” said swimmer Katie Drabot, who joined the Stanford swim team the same year as Ledecky. Praise like this from her teammates shows Katie’s unique drive and will to win. She was willing to put in the hours every day to improve as much as possible.
During her second and final year as a swimmer for Stanford University, Katie would dominate across the board, winning numerous awards and setting new NCAA records. Her accolades included being a member of the NCAA championship team; becoming a CSCAA Scholar All-American, a CoSIDA First-Team Academic All-American, and a Pac-12 All-Academic First Team selection; adding three more individual NCAA championships to her trophy cabinet (while setting an NCAA record in the 100m freestyle); and winning the Al Masters Award, the top honour given by Stanford Athletics.
delivering results In the pool and in the classroom
Not only did Katie dominate in the pool but she made sure she focused in the classroom as well. This is reflected in her selection for numerous Academic All-American teams, which takes into account a student-athlete’s overall GPA. Katie’s drive and commitment to improving every day in all aspects of her life are truly inspiring, and has gained her the admiration of millions around the world. When we think of college superstars, we should think immediately of Katie Ledecky.
Katie Ledecky would turn professional after her sophomore year at Stanford, which ended her NCAA eligibility. However, the mark she left on college swimming will not soon be forgotten. Her unique brand of professionalism, excellence, and personality ensured she was famous even in high school. But college was where Katie became a superstar. She continued to study while winning gold medals and championships around the world, and in 2021 graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Psychology.
Katie Ledecky is a college superstar who continues her domination on an international scale year in and year out.
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