2016 USA Swimming Golden Goggles Awards: Live Recap

2016 Golden Goggles Awards

  • November 21st, 2016
  • Awards presentation begins at 6:30 Eastern Time
  • New York City, New York
  • Live Stream here

Lovingly referred to as “swimmer prom,” the 2016 USA Swimming Golden Goggles Awards are scheduled for Monday, November 21st as the best in American swimming over the last year are honored.

The event always takes on a special meaning in an Olympic year, and this year was a particularly momentous one. Michael Phelps looked like Michael Phelps for the first time this decade; Katie Ledecky proclaimed herself the best female swimmer (of her generation? ever?); Simone Manuel broke barriers by becoming the first black woman to win an individual Olympic gold medal; and Team USA rebounded from a lackluster 2015 to have a historically-good Olympic performance (thanks in large part to the three swimmers mentioned above). Remember also that 4 members of the Olympic team won’t be present as part of a suspension handed out as the result of an alcohol-fueled incident in the wee hours of the Rio morning the night after the swimming portion of the Games concluded. None of the 4 were nominated for an award individually, though one, Jimmy Feigen, participated in a nominated relay as a prelims-only swimmer.

Honors to be handed out on Monday, as voted upon in part by swimming fans around the world, include:

  • Breakout Performer of the Year
  • Perseverance Award
  • Coach of the Year
  • Relay Performance of the Year
  • Female Race of the Year
  • Male Race of the Year
  • Female Athlete of the Year
  • Male Athlete of the Year

In the event you’ve forgotten, here is the official SwimSwam ballot for the honors, which represent our votes but not necessarily our predictions.

Female Race of the Year – Simone Manuel, 100 Freestyle, 2016 Olympic Games

The first award of the night goes to Simone Manuel for winning gold in the 100 freestyle in Rio this summer.  Manuel’s victory there was notable for a number of different reasons.  The Campbell sisters of Australia were heavily favored to win, Manuel tied with Penny Oleksiak of Canada, and Manuel became the first African-American swimmer in history to win an individual gold medal at the Olympimcs.

Male Race of the Year – Michael Phelps, 200 Butterfly, 2016 Olympic Games

In his acceptance speech, Phelps said this was one of the races he wanted the most, as well one of the ones he had to dig the deepest to win.  At 31 years of age, Phelps defied the collective wisdom that said this was a young man’s race.  But, it seems he was motivated by being touched out by South African Chad Le Clos in 2012 in London, and Phelps recaptured the title sixteen years after he first qualified the Olympic in this event.

Team Leadership Award – Elizabeth Beisel

This wasn’t an award that the fans voted on.  Instead, this was chosen by fellow swimmers and was kept a bit under the hat, as Beisel said in her acceptance speech that she didn’t even know she’d been nominated.  Rio was Beisel’s third Olympic Games, and she served as a team captain, providing rookie swimmers with the wealth of her experiences, having been on the USA National Team since middle school.

After a rousing game of Family Feud (won by the Minnows), the live stream is now on hold while dinner is served.  We’ll continue with the live recap once the awards begin again.

…and we’re back!

Impact Award – Michael Phelps

This is Michael’s second award of the night, and almost certainly won’t be the last.  Dick Ebersol, who presented the award, recognized Debbie Phelps, Bob Bowman, Peter Carlisle, and Nicole Phelps before calling Phelps up on stage.  The presenters introduced this award as a kind of lifetime achievement award, and it’s hard to imagine anyone else at the Golden Goggles having as much of an impact on the sport as Phelps has had in the past sixteen years.

Breakout Swimmer of the Year – Lilly King

Lilly King was our pick on our official ballot (see the link above) and seems like the obvious candidate, although the other candidates were certainly deserving as well.  But, King who had a great freshman NCAA season, took her game to another level in Rio.  She was the center of controversy regarding her criticism of doping, and backed up her finger wagging with an individual gold in the 100 breast in an Olympic Record time, before helping Team USA win the medley relay to close out the meet.

Perseverance Award – Anthony Ervin

“Who would’ve thought — the Perseverance Award going to a sprinter?” quipped Ervin as he opened his acceptance speech.  Yet, Ervin has been on the international swimming stage, off and on, for sixteen years, ever since he was 19 years old and won a gold medal in the 50 free in Sydney.  Ervin’s struggles have been well-documented, and this summer, he became the oldest male swimmer ever to win an individual gold with another victory in the 50 free.

Coach of the Year – Dave Durden

Durden won this award for the first time this evening.  Durden has been head coach at Cal since 2007, and this summer, he coached six men to berths on the USA Olympic Team, including individual gold medalists Ryan Murphy and Anthony Ervin, Nathan Adrian (relay gold, individual bronze), Josh Prenot (silver), Tom Shields (relay gold), and Jacob Pebley.

Relay Performance of the Year – Men’s 4×100 Freestyle Relay

Although the men’s medley relay took gold in Olympic Record fashion, they were considered safer bets to win.  However, after an entire quad of handwringing about the state of USA men’s swimming, Team USA put together a squad of two veterans (Nathan Adrian and Michael Phelps) and two youngsters (Caeleb Dressel and Ryan Held) that overcame the French and other teams to take back Olympic gold after settling for silver in 2012.

Female Swimmer of the Year – Katie Ledecky

Yeah, we saw this one coming.  Ledecky kicked off 2016 with a world record in Austin, then went on to win three events in Omaha with times that seemed almost pedestrian by only her standards.  Obviously her sights were set on Rio, where she won the 200, 400, and 800 individual freestyle events, along with the 4×200 free relay.  We also saw her range expand to the shorter events, as she filled in on the 4×100 free relay, where Team USA earned a silver medal.  Never one to let up, Ledecky has set new American Records in the 500 and 1650 freestyle events in her first two months as a freshman at Stanford, and looks to have many more years ahead of her.

Male Swimmer of the Year – Michael Phelps

Again, no surprise here.  Phelps made his last campaign a memorable one.  Despite some doubts among fans that being on the “wrong” side of 30 would hinder his efforts, Phelps won his three individual events at Olympic Trials.  Once in Rio, he helped Team USA win gold in the 4×100 free, then he won individual gold in the 200 fly and 200 IM, and two more relay golds in the 4×200 free and 4×100 medley relay.  Even the one event he didn’t win was quite memorable, as he was part of a historic three-way tie for silver in the 100 fly.  At the age of 31, Phelps won five gold and one silver in his last Olympic Games, padding a medal count that already seemed like it could never surpassed.

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6 years ago

Congrats to Dave Durden. David Marsh, Bob Bowman and Greg Meehan- all great choices but Dave Durden is well deserving.

6 years ago

what did MP say when Nathan Adrian was speaking about significant others?

6 years ago

You forgot the other “youngster” in the 4×100 men’s relay.

anon :))
6 years ago

wow!! it’s the first time ledecky hasn’t won the female race of the year since she’s been nominated. despite that – congratulations to simone – that award was most definitely deserved.

bobo gigi
Reply to  anon :))
6 years ago

Yes. Simone deserves it. Her 100 free gold was unexpected. I’m sure KL is very happy for her Stanford teammate.

anon :))
Reply to  bobo gigi
6 years ago

yes, defintely

6 years ago

Congrats simone

Stay Human
6 years ago

Is anyone else having trouble with the live stream @usswim.org? If not I need to step out to switch to another device, thanks.

Reply to  Stay Human
6 years ago

It just got started. Rowdy just began his opening monologue!

Reply to  Robert Gibbs
6 years ago

Rowdy might now go for President .

Reply to  G.I.N.A
6 years ago

Well, he can only breathe to his right, so I guess so.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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