In addition to Katie Ledecky both the “Best Athlete—Women’s Sports” and the “Best Olympian—Women’s Sports” awards at the 2022 ESPY Awards (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Awards), American swimmers Caeleb Dressel, Jessica Long, and Brad Snyder also claimed awards during last night’s show.
The ESPYs are awards presented to athletes annually to celebrate excellence in sport. Presented by both ABC and ESPN networks, the awards show has been running since 1993. Voting for the ESPY awards is based solely on online fan voting run on the ESPN website, and the awards have a distinctly American slant (though is not explicitly limited to American nominees).
This year, there were four swimmers nominated in the online voting process for 5 different awards, meaning that they won every award that they were nominated for. Coming off an Olympic year, it is not uncommon to see multiple swimmers nominated for awards, but the fact that all of the nominated swimmers won their respective awards in a year that saw both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games occur is significant.
American Caeleb Dressel claimed the award for the “Best Olympian – Men’s Sports”. He was nominated in the category alongside Nathan Chen, the 2022 Winter Olympic gold medalist in the men’s free skate, ice sledge hockey Paralympic gold medalist Declan Farmer, and 3-time Paralympic track and field gold medalist Nick Mayhugh.
At the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Dressel led all Americans across all sports by winning 5 gold medals. He claimed individual gold medals in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, and 100 butterfly, setting a new world record in the latter of the 3 events. Dressel also contributed to gold medals in the men’s 4×100 medley relay and men’s 4×100 freestyle relay, helping Team USA to a world record in the medley relay.
This marks Dressel’s first ESPY award and his first nomination. He joins Michael Phelps as the only swimmers to win this award, as Phelps claimed it in 2009, 2013, and 2017, all of which were post-Olympic years.
For Long, this marks her fourth ESPY win in that category, having won the award in 2007, 2012, and 2013 as well. At the 2022 Paralympic Games, Long won gold medals in the S8 200 IM, S8 100 Butterfly, and 4×100 medley relay. She also claimed silver medals in the SB 7 100 breaststroke and S8 400 Freestyle, along with a bronze in the S8 100 backstroke. Long suffers from fibular hemimelia, which resulted in her having her legs amputated as a child. Cyclist/Biathlon athlete Oksana Masters, soccer player Katy Ward, and snowboarder Brenna Huckaby were also nominated in the category alongside Long.
Snyder, a US Navy Veteran who lost his sight in an IED explosion, won his first ESPY award. After winning triple gold medals in swimming at the 2016 Paralympic Games, Snyder competed in the paratriathlon PTVI at the 2020 Paralympic Games. In the event consisting of a 750 m swim, 20 km bike, and 5 km run, Snyder won the gold medal alongside Greg Billington. He was nominated alongside sled hockey player Declan Farmer, track and field star Nick Mayhugh, and table tennis player Ian Seidenfeld.
With their wins, Ledecky, Dressel, Long, and Snyder join the aforementioned Phelps, along with Missy Franklin, Dara Torres, Erin Popovich, and Mallory Weggemann as swimmers who have won ESPYs. The men’s 4×100 freestyle relay from the 2008 Olympic Games also won an ESPY.