Swimming Australia has named Alicia Coutts as the 2012 EnergyAustralia Swimmer of the Year in the country’s big awards gala, their equivalent of the Golden Goggles held in the United States on Monday.
Coutts was the obvious victor, having taken 5 Olympic medals, including a gold as a part of the Australian 400 free relay. Her three teammates from that relay final, Mel Schlanger, Brittany Elmslie, and Cate Campbell, were the only other nominees, and none among them took an individual medal (though they were on other relays).
On the other hand, Coutts individually took silver in the 200 IM and a bronze in the 100 fly; while most of the country flopped, Coutts shone brightest on the biggest stage. This is her second win in three years, having only been upstaged by James Magnussen last year. It’s also the 6th time in 7 years that the award has gone to a woman, which shows how Australian Swimming has shifted in the last decade (men had won the previous 7 honors).
Even her impressive accomplishments were perhaps dwarfed by those of Paralympian Jacqueline Freney, who took 8 gold medals at the London Paralympics and for her efforts was awarded Multi Class Swimmer of the Year.
Her Paralympic teammate Matthew Cowdrey received the award that the Australian athletes take nearest to their hearts: the EnergyAustralia Swimmers’ Choice Award. This honor is unique in that it is not voted upon by executives, board members, coaches, or even fans. It is voted on by those other athletes who are in the pool working every day, and a chance for them to recognize one of their own.
Cowdrey’s contribution to Australian Swimming will extend far beyond 2012. 8 medals in London, including 5 gold, gave Cowdrey 13 in his career across three Games, making him the most decorated Paralympian in Australian history.
The fans’ award went to Christian Sprenger, who took a big change in event focus this year by dropping the 200 breaststroke, where he had been the World Record holder, to focus on the 100, where he’d never broken a minute. No matter, he roared his way to a silver medal in the shorter event in London, which was one of the bigger surprises of the meet.
Coutts’ coach John Fowlie was named the Coach of the Year for the second-straight season, adding that honor to one bestowed on him last week by the Australian Swimming Coaches and Teachers Association (ASCTA).
A full list of the award winners is below:
EnergyAustralia Swimmer of the Year Alicia Coutts
EnergyAustralia Swimmers’ Swimmer of the Year Matthew Cowdrey
Swisse People’s Choice Award Christian Sprenger
Multi-Class Swimmer of the Year Jacqueline Freney
Open Water Swimmer of the Year Melissa Gorman
Singapore Airlines Short Course Swimmer of the Year Blair Evans
Speedo Golden Moment of the Year Women 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay
Roger Smith Technical Official of the Year Ryan Arblaster
Australian Sports Commission Discovery of the Year Brittany Elmslie
Age Group Coach of the Year Craig Jackson
Multi-Class Coach of the Year Michael Freney
Open Water Coach of the Year Ken Wood
Coach of the Year John Fowlie