"It's kind of a loping stroke. It's not the prettiest stroke. But it's what's most efficient for me." -- Katie Ledecky on her record-breaking freestyle form
With Rio looming, 2016 could certainly be Katie Ledecky's year. But make no mistake: Ledecky blew 2015 out of the water.
For folks who still might be unfamiliar with her name, Ledecky is the swimmer who dominated the 2015 FINA World Championships in spectacular fashion. Before the semifinals of the 1,500-meter freestyle, coach Bruce Gemmell told her to swim relaxed; the 18-year-old followed instructions, and broke the world record she set in 2014.
She followed up by breaking the record again in the finals (presumably swimming a little less relaxed) with a time of 15:25.48. But she wasn't just golden in that race -- Ledecky also won the freestyle events in the 200-, 400- and, with another world record of 8:07.39, the 800-meters, to become the first swimmer -- male or female -- to win four individual freestyle titles at a world championship. Then she anchored the 4 x 200-meter relay to victory.
If this is any indication, this year's USA Swimming female athlete of the year could be right back on our list next December -- this time donning Olympic gold.
More On Katie Ledecky
• Ledecky named top performer Story »
• Ledecky earns swimmer of the year honors Story »
• Ledecky and the Olympic industrial complex Story »
• Teammates go crazy for Ledecky's record Story »
The IMPACT25 is espnW's annual list of the 25 athletes and influencers who have made the greatest impact for women in sports. Explore the 2015 list at espnW.com/IMPACT25.