2023 Golden Goggle Awards
The 2023 Golden Goggle Awards are being held tonight in Los Angeles, California. The event is being held at the JW Marriott at LA Live, and most of the Team USA World Championship members from Fukuoka will be in attendance. This year’s edition of the awards will mark the 19th anniversary, and you can watch all the action live on the USA Swimming YouTube channel.
It’s important to note that these awards are largely based on performances from the 2023 World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan.
This year’s ceremony will start off with the Male Race of the Year followed by the Female Race of the Year awards. After those two awards, they will announce the Breakout Performer of the Year before breaking for a 45-minute dinner break. After the conclusion of dinner, the remaining awards will be given out in the following order:
- Relay Performance of the Year
- Foundation Impact Award
- USA Swimming Impact Award
- Coach of the Year
- Perseverance Award
- Alumni of the Year
- Fran Crippen Open Water Swimmer of the Year
- Male Athlete of the Year
- Female Athlete of the Year
Notably, the ceremony will conclude with the announcement of the Male and Female Athletes of the Year. Last year, Florida-trained athletes Katie Ledecky and Bobby Finke were named the winners of the award. They are both nominated again this year, as Kate Douglass, Regan Smith, and Katie Grimes are among the nominees for the women’s award. Ryan Murphy, Jack Alexy, and Carson Foster join Finke as the nominees for the men’s award.
Male Race of the Year: Bobby Finke (1500m Freestyle)
The first award of the night was awarded to Bobby Finke for his 1500 freestyle performance at the 2023 World Championships. This is the third year in a row where Finke has taken home this award.
In Fukuoka, Finke touched the wall for a silver medal in the 1500 free (14:31.59), taking down his previous best time and American record by more than five seconds. Ahmed Hafnaoui of Tunisia walked away victorious in that final, clocking a time of 14:31.54 to break the Championship Record.
Finke had a great meet in Fukuoka, breaking his own American record in the 800 freestyle en route to a bronze medal finish (7:38.67). Finke, the defending Olympic Champion in both the 800 and 1500 freestyles, will be looking to repeat that feat in Paris.
Female Race of the Year: Katie Grimes (10k Open Water)
The Female Race of the Year award was won by Katie Grimes, as she became the first U.S. swimmer to qualify for the Paris Olympics via a top-3 finish in the 10k at Worlds. The Sandpipers of Nevada trained athlete led for the first four laps of that 10k, but held for bronze as she out-touched Sharon van Rouwendaal (2:02:42.40) of the Netherlands and reigning Olympic gold medalist Ana Marcela Cunha (2:02:42.50) of Brazil in a time of 2:02:42.30.
Grimes also excelled in the pool in Fukuoka, as she swam to a silver medal performance in the 400 IM. Her time of 4:31.41 in the final was a best time, narrowly missing Katie Hoff’s long standing American record from 2008 (4:31.12).
Breakout Performer of the Year: Jack Alexy
Jack Alexy was awarded the Breakout Performer of the Year for 2023. Alexy started off his summer by winning the 100 freestyle at the US World Championship Trials (47.93) after posting a 47.75 personal best in the heats. He later placed 2nd in the 50 freestyle (21.63) to add another event to his World Championship schedule.
Once in Fukuoka, Alexy continued his rapid progression with more best times in the 50 (21.57) and 100 (47.31) freestyles to secure silver medals in both.
Alexy missed the World Championship team in 2022 by placing 29th in the 100 freestyle at Trials (49.85). Alexy went from missing the US team altogether last year to becoming a 5-time medalist at Worlds this past summer.
Relay Performance of the Year: 4×100 Women’s Medley Relay
- Nominees: 4x100m Women’s Medley Relay, 4x100m Men’s Medley Relay, 4x200m Women’s Freestyle Relay
The Relay Performance of the Year award was given to the Women’s 4×100 Medley Relay. The winning quartet consisted of Regan Smith (57.68), Lilly King (1:04.93), Gretchen Walsh (56.44), and Kate Douglass (52.41). The team clocked a winning time of 3:52.08 to win the world title, touching ahead of Australia by over a second.
With this relay win, the U.S. successfully defended their title from Budapest a year prior. Looking towards Paris, the U.S. women will hope to regain the Olympic title in the event. In Tokyo, Australia touched out the U.S. for the win in an Olympic Record time of 3:51.60.
Foundation Impact Award: Tim and Jennifer Buckley
The recipients of this year’s Foundation Impact Award are Tim and Jennifer Buckley. They have been associated with the USA Swimming Foundation for nearly two decades, helping in many different aspects through their tenure. Not only have they served as Trustees, but they have served as Donor Athlete Partnership mentors for the past six years. Through this, they have had the opportunity to mentor a current National Team member each calendar year.
USA Swimming Impact Award: Eddie Reese
Eddie Reese, who has led the University of Texas men’s team since 1979, is this year’s winner of the USA Swimming Impact Award. Reese, who announced he plans to retire after the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials, has led the University of Texas men to 15 NCAA titles over the course of his storied carrier. Reese was served as the Men’s U.S. Head Olympic Coach on three separate occasions: 1992, 2004, and 2008.
Reese has coached numerous Olympic medalists over the course of his career, including 5-time Olympic Champion backstroker Aaron Peirsol, 3-time Olympic Gold medalist Brendan Hansen, and 3-time Gold medal winner Ian Crocker among others.
Coach of the Year: Dave Durden
- Nominees: Todd DeSorbo, Anthony Nesty, Dave Durden, Ron Aitken, Bob Bowman
Dave Durden was named the Coach of the Year, marking his 2nd time winning this award. Durden placed six swimmers on the U.S. World Championship this summer, including Jack Alexy who won the Breakout Swimmer of the Year award earlier in the night. Ryan Murphy, Hunter Armstrong, Destin Lasco, Dare Rose, and Abbey Weitzeil were the other five Cal representatives for Team USA. Of those athletes, five of the six walked away from Fukuoka with at least one gold medal to their name.
Notably, Durden coached three of the four swimmers on the final of the U.S. men’s 4×100 medley relay at the World Championships. Murphy, Rose, and Alexy swam the backstroke, butterfly, and freestyle legs respectively. Armstrong also swam on the prelims relay for the United States, highlighting the Cal backstroke depth that we see so often.
Perseverance Award: Lydia Jacoby
- Nominees: Lydia Jacoby, Ashley (Twichell) Wall
Lydia Jacoby won the Perseverance Award here at the 2023 Golden Goggles. Jacoby was given this award for her strength to persevere through a disappointing 2022 into 2023.
Jacoby, the 2021 Olympic Champion in the 100 breaststroke, missed out on qualifying for the 2022 World Championships by placing 4th at the U.S. Trials. She bounced back in a big way this year, qualifying for the U.S. team with her 2nd fastest time ever (1:05.16). Jacoby would go on to win individual bronze in the event at the World Championships (1:05.94).
Alumni of the Year: Lenny Krayzelburg
The Alumni of the Year Award is a brand new award added to the program this year. The award is presented to a National Team alumni who continues to give back to the sport after retirement.
Lenny Krayzelburg was named the inaugural winner. Krayzelburg won the 100/200 backstroke double at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and swam on the winning medley relay. He also competed at the 2004 Olympics, winning gold as a member of the prelim medley relay.
Krayzelburg started the Lenny Krayzelburg Swim Academy in 2005 with the purpose to teach and inspire the next generation to be water safe.
Fran Crippen Open Water Swimmer of the Year: Katie Grimes
- Nominees: Katie Grimes, Mariah Denigan
Katie Grimes was named the Fran Crippen Open Water Swimmer of the Year, marking her 2nd Golden Goggle win of the night after winning Female Race of the Year earlier.
In addition to her individual bronze at Worlds, she also featured on the Team USA mixed 4×1.5km open water relay. The U.S. team ultimately placed 9th in the event.
Male Athlete of the Year: Ryan Murphy
Ryan Murphy secured his 2nd ever Male Athlete of the Year honor tonight, as he won the award five years ago in 2018. Murphy was the only male swimmer to secure an individual gold for Team USA in Fukuoka, clocking a 52.22 to take the 100 back win. Murphy added 3 additional medals at the meet with a gold in the men’s medley relay, a silver in the 200 backstroke, and a bronze in the mixed medley relay.
Murphy also stepped up on the relays for Team USA this summer, posting a time of 52.02 on the lead-off leg of the mixed medley relay and a 52.04 split on the men’s medley relay. Both swims were faster than his winning time in the individual event earlier in the meet.
Female Athlete of the Year: Katie Ledecky & Kate Douglass
In a bit of a twist to end the night, Katie Ledecky and Kate Douglass were both named Female Athlete of the Year. Of note, this is Ledecky’s 9th time winning this award. Ledecky first won this award back in 2013, winning it all the way through 2018. She also won the award in 2021 and 2022.
Ledecky had an outstanding 2023. At the World Championship Trials in June, Ledecky posted an 8:07.07 800 freestyle to swim the third fastest time in history. She later stopped the clock in 15:29.64 in the 1500, breaking 15:30 for the first time since March 2020.
At the World Championships in Fukuoka, Ledecky swept the 800 and 1500 Freestyles. She posted an 8:08.84 to win the 800 by nearly five seconds, and dropped 3 seconds from her Trials time in the 1500 to win in 15:26.27. The swim by Ledecky in the 1500 was the third fastest performance of all-time. Ledecky also swam a season best time of 3:58.73 to secure a silver medal for Team USA in the 400 freestyle.
Douglass showed the world her wide range of versatility this summer, qualifying for the U.S. World Championship team in the 100 freestyle, 200 breaststroke, and 200 IM. She left Fukuoka with 6 medals, (2 gold, 3 silver, & 1 bronze) including an individual world title in the 200 IM. She also won an individual silver in the 200 breaststroke (2:21.23).
Douglass is confirmed to be competing at the upcoming U.S. Open, which commences on November 29th in Greensboro.