2022 Golden Goggle Awards
The 2022 Golden Goggle Awards are finally here! USA Swimming’s annual awards ceremony will take place in New York City at the New York Marriott Marquis. This is the 18th edition of the awards ceremony, which began in 2004 to recognize the USA’s most accomplished swimmers.
The first award of the night will be the Breakout Performer of the Year, followed by the Relay Performance of the Year and the Impact Award. Following those three awards, there will be a 1-hour break at the ceremony for dinner. The awards ceremony will resume at 8:30 pm with the Female Race of the Year, followed by the Male Race of the Year, Perseverance Award, Coach of the Year, Female Athlete of the Year, and lastly, the Male Athlete of the Year.
The awards this year are largely based on performances from the 2022 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Check out the full list of nominees for this year’s award here:
At the 2021 Golden Goggles, which recognized performances at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Katie Ledecky and Caeleb Dressel took home the swimmer of the year awards, while Lydia Jacoby, Annie Lazor, and Bobby Finke took home additional awards. Ledecky is nominated again this year and will have the chance to take home her 7th prize, having won every year from 2013 – 2018 and again in 2021.
Dressel is not nominated this year, having pulled out early from the 2022 World Championships. While he was a part of the 4×100 freestyle relay that was nominated for Relay of the Year, Dressel is not in attendance at this year’s ceremony. This year’s male nominees include 2018 winner Ryan Murphy, 2021 Male Race of the Year winner Bobby Finke, Carson Foster, and Nic Fink.
When this year’s planned host, Dan Hicks, became unavailable to host due to a death in the family, NBC sports reporter Ahmed Fareed was called up to take over the role. Fareed explained that he was asked just this morning if he would take over as host.
Breakout Performer of the Year: Leah Hayes
The first award of the night, the Breakout Performer of the Year went to Leah Hayes. Hayes’ breakout began at the 2022 International Team Trials when she qualified to race the 200 IM for USA, swimming a 2:09.99 to place second behind Alex Walsh‘s 2:07.84. Hayes improved upon that time during prelims in Budapest when she hit a 2:09.81 for second place and followed that up with a 2:09.82 in the semi-finals.
Her swim of the year came during finals when Hayes managed to break the 2:09 barrier in finals, swimming a 2:08.91 for bronze. Hayes was third overall in the event and became the new world junior record-holder, improving upon Yu Yiting’s 2:09.57.
At her first-ever major international meet, Hayes shaved more than a second off her best time, became the fastest-ever junior in the event, and reset the 15-16 national age group record.
Relay Performance of the Year: Women’s 4×200 Relay
- Nominees: Women’s 4×200 free relay, Men’s 4×200 free relay, Women’s 4×100 medley relay, Men’s 4×100 free relay, Mixed 4×100 medley relay
It was one of the most exciting races we got to see at the 2022 World Championships and now it’s a Golden Goggles Award-winning race: the USA Women’s 4×200 freestyle. The quartet of Leah Smith, Katie Ledecky, Bella Sims, and Claire Weinstein with team Australia in lane 4 and China in lane 5.
This group of four consists of two season vets in Ledecky and Smith and two first-time senior international teamers in Weinstein and Sims. Weinstein opened things up with a 1:56.71 to get the team into second place behind Canada’s Summer McIntosh (1:54.79). After Weinstein, Leah Smith took over and posted a solid 1:56.47, which was quicker than Kayla Sanchez‘s 1:57.39 for Canada. Ledecky, who is a regular anchor leg for Team USA, was third here and she split a massive 1:53.67 to get Team USA into first place.
After Ledecky, it was up to Sims to get the Americans to the wall in first place. She was up against a stacked field including Mollie O’Callaghan, Penny Oleksiak, and Yang Junxuan. Sims hit a 1:54.60 to close out the race, out-swimming O’Callaghan, and Oleksiak. While Junxuan managed to pull off a quicker split than Sims (1:54.18), Weinstein, Smith, and Ledecky provided enough of a lead that it didn’t matter.
Team USA took home gold in the women’s 4×200 freestyle with a 7:41.45, lowering the Championships record in the process.
Impact Award: Bill Maxson & Carol Zaleski
Bill Maxson was awarded the 2022 Impact Award for his service to the USA Swimming community. The former board chair of the USA Swimming Foundation, Maxson has been a behind-the-scenes leader at USA Swimming for decades. Maxson has served as President of USA Swimming, served on the board of the United States Olympic Committee, and has chaired various committees with the United States Sports Insurance Corporation (USSIC) and USA Swimming.
While presenting the award to Maxson, Olympic Cullen Jones said that Maxson has “impacted the highest level of swimming for decades.” “While the lights shine brightest on our champions in the pool, it’s the behind-the-scenes difference makers like Bill Maxson who help steer this proud organization through every single challenge” added Olympian Elizabeth Beisel.
The second recipient of this award was Carol Zaleski who worked in swimming for 45 years and served on the Board of Directors of USA Swimming for 39 years. Zaleski has contributed to the sport of swimming in several ways, including spearheading the development of underwater judging cameras in 2007. Zaleski also created the United States Sports Insurance Corporation during her tenure as USA Swimming President.
Zaleski was the President of USA Swimming for eight years beginning in 1986 and she was the first female to join the FINA Technical Committee. Zaleski recently retired from her duties in the swimming world and was recognized with this award a month after being inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an honourary inductee.
Female Race of the Year: Katie Ledecky – 800 Freestyle
- Nominees: Alex Walsh 200 IM, Katie Ledecky 800 free, Lilly King 200 breast, Regan Smith 100 back, Torri Huske 100 fly
Katie Ledecky picked up her second award of the night by winning the Female Race of the Year for her 800 freestyle at the 2022 World Championships. Ledecky is considered to be the greatest female freestyler in history and she contributed to that reputation when she swam to gold in the 800 freestyle earlier this year with an 8:08.04. That time made her the quickest in the final by more than 10 seconds as Australia’s Kiah Melverton took second place with an 8:18.77.
That 800 freestyle win in Budapest was her fifth-straight title in the event at World Championships, having won in 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019. Ledecky’s swim in Budapest was her fifth-fastest swim in history and less than four seconds off her 2016 world record of 8:04.79.
At the 2022 World Championships Ledecky also took gold in the 400 freestyle with a 3:58.15 Championships record, the 1500 freestyle with a 15:30.15, and the 4×200 freestyle relay for which she won the Relay of the Year award. While this award was in recognition of her 2022 World Championships performances, Ledecky has also set two world records in 2022 in the short course 800 and 1500 freestyles with a 7:57.42 and 15:08.24, respectively.
Male Race of the Year: Bobby Finke – 800 Freestyle
The Male Race of the Year award also went to an 800 freestyle performance as Bobby Finke took home the prize for the second year in a row. A year after his Olympic gold medal performance in 2021, Bobby Finke took gold at the 2022 World Championships in the 800 freestyle with a 7:39.36 American record.
Finke used his signature closing speed to out-swim the field and touch just 0.27 seconds ahead of silver medalist Florian Wellbrock of Germany. Finke’s time beat his own national record of 7:41.87, which he had swum in Tokyo to win gold. Finke also broke the American record in Budapest in the 1500 freestyle with his 14:36.70 to the silver medal behind Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri’s 14:32.80. Finke was also nominated for this award for that 1500 freestyle.
Perseverance Award: Leah Smith
Leah Smith joins Katie Ledecky as a two-time Golden Goggles winner tonight, picking up the 2022 Perseverance Award. Smith swam consistently for Team USA for several years leading up to the 2021 Olympic Trials, including at the 2016 Olympic Games where she won 4×200 freestyle gold and 400 freestyle bronze.
Despite her prior success, Leah Smith had a disappointing performance at Olympic Trials in 2021 when she came up short in each event that she swam and didn’t qualify for the Olympic team. Smith explained during her acceptance speech how hard that hit her and what it means to be able to accept this award tonight.
Smith was given this award for her ability to persevere through a disappointing 2021 into 2022 when she bounced back and qualified for the World Championships in Budapest. Smith made it onto the team in both the 400 freestyle and the 4×200 freestyle relay. She went on to win medals in both of those events, placing third in the women’s 400 freestyle with a 4:02.08 behind teammate Katie Ledecky‘s 3:58.15 and Summer McIntosh‘s 3:59.39.
Smith also picked up a gold medal in the women’s 4×200 freestyle, contributing a 1:56.47 split to Team USA’s Championships record-breaking 7:41.45.
Coach of the Year: Anthony Nesty
- Nominees: Anthony Nesty, Eddie Reese, Ron Aitken, Todd DeSorbo
The 2022 Coach of the Year award went to Anthony Nesty who coached several Florida Gators to success at the 2022 World Championships. Nesty served as head coach of the 2022 men’s World Champs team and lead that contingent to 17 individual medals in Budapest.
Nesty is the head coach of the University of Florida men’s and women’s teams and currently coaches several collegiate and professional swimmers who represent the USA internationally including Bobby Finke, Kieran Smith, Katie Ledecky, Caeleb Dressel, and Natalie Hinds. Nesty-coached swimmers won several medals in Budapest including Ledecky’s 800 and 1500 freestyle gold and 400 freestyle silver, Bobby Finke‘s 800 freestyle gold and 1500 silver, and Caeleb Dressel‘s 50 butterfly gold.
Female Athlete of the Year: Katie Ledecky
Katie Ledecky won her third Golden Goggle award of the night by being named the Female Athlete of the Year for 2022. This is Ledecky’s 8th time winning this award, adding to her 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2021 awards. Ledecky is the first swimmer to win the top award eight times at the Golden Goggles, passing Michael Phelps who won the award a total of 7 times in his career.
Ledecky’s award comes on the heels of a quadruple gold medal haul at the Budapest World Championships. Her gold medal swim in the 800 freestyle got her the Race of the Year award earlier this evening and her 4×200 freestyle gold got her the Relay of the Year award. She also took gold in the 1500 freestyle, swimming a 15:30.15 in the event to defeat the field. Her fourth gold medal swim of the meet was a 3:58.15 Championships record in the 400 free.
Male Athlete of the Year: Bobby Finke
The final award of the night went to Bobby Finke, this year’s 2022 Male Athlete of the Year. This is Finke’s first time winning this award, having collected the Male Race of the Year back in 2021 for his 800 freestyle gold medal swim at the Tokyo Olympics.
Finke won the 2022 Race of the Year award as well for his American record-breaking 800 freestyle at the World Championships and he was the only man to be nominated twice in that category. Finke lowered the national records in both the 800 and 1500 freestyles in Budapest, hitting a 7:39.36 and 14:36.70, respectively.
Finke was one of three American men to win individual gold and silver in Budapest, along with fellow nominees Nic Fink and Ryan Murphy, but he was the only one to do so and also break two American records. Finke and Ledecky’s success tonight, along with their coach Anthony Nesty‘s win, provided a strong showing for the Florida Gators as they collectively won five individual, and one relay award at tonight’s ceremony.
THE RED CARPET – WHAT DID THEY WEAR?