Wave-making, record-breaking swimmer Drew Ledwith of Keene, who led Keene State College to a New England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Association championship, was selected as the February Athlete of Month as voted on by the New Hampshire Union Leader Board of Judges.
Ledwith, a junior, posted an NCAA "A" standard qualifying time in a 500 freestyle race at White River Junction, Vt., while setting meet and school records. The Keene native etched his name in the KSC record book with times of 4 minutes, 27.29 seconds in the 500 free and 15:19.79 in the 1,650 free. Ledwith, 20, also teamed with freshman Cole Hogg of Manchester, junior Jared Hyde and Shahar Resman to record an NCAA "A" cut qualifying time, meet and school record in the 800 free relay (6:40.59).
Ledwith is the top seed in the 500 and 1,650 at the NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships on Wednesday through Saturday in Shenandoah, Texas, this week.
"This team and program climbed to an amazing level," he said. "We knew going in that we'd be racing against the clock in many of the races, and we were able to find a way to pull it off. I've never been more excited than after we got an 'A' cut in the 800 free relay. We've never done that before."
Ledwith, a math major, received 32 points in Athlete of the Month voting. Bishop Guertin of Nashua senior Betsy Garnick, who led the Cardinals to the NHIAA Division I girls' indoor track and field championship for the 11th straight time, received 24 points. University of New Hampshire junior basketball player Kelsey Hogan, of Nashua, earned 22 points following a productive month for the Wildcats. Others receiving votes included New Hampshire Technical Institute basketball player Allura Leblanc (19 points) from Coe-Brown of Northwood and Cornell University junior goalie Lauren Slebodnick (11 points) of Manchester.
Ledwith, a three-time Division III All-America, will dive into the water as the No. 1 seed in the 500 and 1,650 freestyle races this week at the NCAA Championships at the Conroe Natatorium in Texas. KSC coach Jack Fabian said he has never seen Ledwith swim with so much confidence.
"I think Drew is ready to take the next step," Fabian said. "The first year he was there (at the NCAAs), he struggled a little bit but swam much better last year. Now he has some experience. As a coach, you just hope you're doing all the right things and he's going to swim better than ever."
Previous 2013 Athlete of the Month winner: Sean Doherty, Conway, biathlon.To submit a nomination for future Athlete of the Month consideration, email the Union Leader Sports Department at email@example.com and enter "Athlete of the Month" in the subject line.