It’s hard to believe it’s that time again, but USA Swimming Foundation is gearing up for another edition of the Golden Goggles Awards, which will take place on November 20th in Los Angeles, California. The star-studded gala features most of American swimming’s biggest stars dressed to a tee and receiving awards.
The USA Swimming Foundation gives you, the fans, a 5% stake in the voting through their online ballot.
Click here to check it out and vote for yourself.
Below, we give you our picks for each category, and reasons why. Good luck to all the candidates, and feel free to make your own decisions!
Breakout Performer of the Year
X Ashley Twichell
Alex Meyer was the 25k open water World Champion, and though he had a great performance at Worlds, I’m not sure he fits this category. McGill and Twichell had matched quality on the “performer” scale, but I’d argue that Twichell had the bigger “breakout” of the pair, so she gets my vote.
X Alex Meyer
This award always makes me nervous, because I’m never quite sure what, specifically, the nominators are referring to when they make this list. Is Beisel on the list because she placed 8th at NCAA’s in the 500 free, then won Worlds gold in the 400 IM? Is Vanderkaay on the list because…he changed clubs? Is Alex Meyer on the list because he fought through a back injury to make the Olympic Team? Or is there some other story about each that I’m just not thinking of? I’ll give the vote to Meyer, because his makes the most sense to me.
Coach of the Year
X Dave Salo
This is a stacked field this year. There were so many coaches around the country who put together such loaded squads. When was the last time Eddie Reese didn’t make this list? I’ll give the vote to coach Salo, the sprint and breaststroke genius at Southern Cal who has amassed an unprecedented group of international-level swimmers. They didn’t quite match up to the hype at Worlds, but they still brought in a big medal haul, and more swimmers continue to head his way.
Relay Performance of the Year
Women’s 4x200m Free Relay (FINA World Championships)
Men’s 4x200m Free Relay (FINA World Championships)
X W omen’s 4x100m Medley Relay (FINA World Championships)
Men’s 4x100m Medley Relay (FINA World Championships)
This is a tricky one to pick every year. The list is always made up of gold-medal winning relays, which is incredibly difficult to do, yet still the fans and official voting panel are asked to pick one that stood out above the rest. Do you pick the ones that had the toughest battle from the competition? Do you pick the one that was the best relay, regardless of the field? The one that won by the biggest margin? Is the best American relay necessarily one that wins a gold medal? All queries to be pondered, but I’ll give my vote to the women’s 400 medley. They set the National Record, scared the crap out of the World Record, and put together one of the most dominant medley quartets I think we’ve ever seen (and that may not be recognized as such until they win gold at the Olympics next year).
Female Performance of the Year
X Missy Franklin, 200m Back (World Championships)
Rebecca Soni, 100m Breaststroke (FINA World Championships)
Dana Vollmer, 100m Butterfly (FINA World Championships)
Elizabeth Beisel, 400m IM (FINA World Championships)
These were all great performances. To pick a winner amongst them, I’m going to compare each swim against its “standard”. Even then, multiple of these nominees were textile-bests. But this is an awards show that is all about paying homage to the excitement of swimming, and to put it in the spotlight, and I don’t know if any swim at Worlds (yes, even the World Records by Sun Yang and Ryan Lochte) garnered more buzz and just pure excitement from the swimming community than Missy Franklin’s 200 backstroke. I strongly considered Dana Vollmer’s 100 fly as well.
Male Performance of the Year
Ryan Lochte, 200m Freestyle (FINA World Championships)
Michael Phelps, 200m Butterfly (FINA World Championships)
X Ryan Lochte, 200m IM (FINA World Championships)
Two words: World Record.
Female Athlete of the Year
M issy Franklin
X Rebecca Soni
It’s deja vu all over again. No other American woman took two individual golds at Worlds, and she did so in dominant fashion. Soni is the defending winner of this award, and as long as she keeps dominating breaststroke like she does, it will be hard to wrestle it away from her. If anyone is going to knock her off it’s Franklin, who swam on all three American relays.
Male Athlete of the Year
This is sort of a tell-tale sign about the house of cards that is American men’s swimming right now. There are only two nominees for this award, and that pair combined for 8 out of the USA’s 11 World Championship medals (individual/men’s). Tyler Clary also took two, and Tyler McGill took one. The pick is easy, Lochte will win going away, but the list is what’s most notable about this award.