After only a year at Stanford University, freshman swimming sensation Katie Ledecky – who became the most-decorated American female athlete at the Rio Olympic Games (with four golds, one silver) – has been named the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year.
“It was a great honor to even be in contention for the Honda Cup,” Ledecky tells PEOPLE. “It’s a really special, prestigious award and I’m honored.”
The 20-year-old Bethesda, Maryland, native was unable to attend the awards show, broadcast live from Los Angeles on the CBS Sports Network, because she’d traveled to Indianapolis to compete in the national swimming championships.
The past year has been something of a whirlwind for Ledecky. After returning to the states after winning multiple medals and setting two world records at Rio, she began her freshman year at Stanford.
Over the course of her first season on the school’s swim team, she set five American records and seven NCAA records in three events and broke Stanford’s team records in five different events.
Her nearly supernatural performance (she won her first gold medal at 15 at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London) helped the Stanford Cardinal win its first team title at the NCAA Championships since 1998.
“I think this award represents not only the work that I put in over this past year, but also what our whole team accomplished,” says Ledecky, who doesn’t plan on declaring her major until the end of her sophomore year. “I’m just trying out all the interesting classes and seeing what I enjoy. It’ll probably be something in the humanities.”
Besides Ledecky, the “top three” finalists for Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year award included senior basketball star Kelsey Plum of the University of Washington and Kendell Williams, a track and field standout from the University of Georgia, who is also a senior.
Ledecky is only the second freshman to ever win the award during its 41-year history.