Ledecky, Murphy, Douglass and Jaffe Named Semi-Finalists For 94th James E. Sullivan Award

Yanyan Li
by Yanyan Li 1

February 14th, 2024 National, News

Swimmers Katie Ledecky, Ryan Murphy, Kate Douglass, and Noah Jaffe are among the 30 semifinalists who were nominated for the 94th AAU James E. Sullivan Award, which is given out every year to the top amateur athlete in the United States — which typically entails an NCAA athlete or an athlete who plays a sport that “peaks” during the Olympics.

The list of semi-finalists will be narrowed down to a select group of finalists through public vote, which began on Wednesday at 9 a.m. (ET) and ends on Feb. 21 at 11:59 p.m. The winner of the award will be determined through a second voting period starting in mid-March and announced on April 23 at the New York Athletic Club in New York City, which is the birthplace of the AAU. Notably, voting for this year’s rendition of the award is happening considerably earlier than last year, when semi-finalists were announced in mid-July and a winner was announced in September.

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Last year, Douglass and University of Tennessee swimmer Jordan Crooks made it to the finalist standing for the 93rd Sullivan Award, which was eventually won by Iowa women’s basketball point guard Caitlin Clark. Clark is among those nominated for the award this year as well.

The last time a swimmer won the Sullivan Award was in 2021, when Caeleb Dressel shared the award with gymnast Simone Biles.

Douglass, Ledecky, and Murphy were three of Team USA’s four individual gold medalists at the 2023 World Championships (with Hunter Armstrong being the fourth). Douglass won the women’s 200 IM, Murphy won the men’s 100 backstroke, and Ledecky won the women’s 800 and 1500 freestyle. Ledecky also became the first swimmer to win six straight world titles in a World Championships event (the 800 free), and passed Michael Phelps as the swimmer with the most World Championships gold medalist.

In addition, Douglass also broke the American record in the 200 breaststroke this Janurary.

Jaffee, meanwhile won four medals at the 2023 World Para Swimming Championships, including gold in the 100 free.

Full List of Nominees:

  • Adeline Gray, USA Wrestling
  • Amit Elor, USA Wrestling
  • Bo Nix, Oregon football
  • Brennan O’Neill, Duke men’s lacrosse
  • Caitlin Clark, Iowa women’s basketball
  • Cameron Brink, Stanford women’s basketball
  • CJ Nickolas, USA Taekwondo
  • Cory Thiese, USA Curling
  • David Taylor, USA Wreslting
  • Dejah Mulipola, USA Softball
  • Eli Dershwitz, USA Fencing
  • Emery Lehman, US Speedskating
  • Ethan Champlin, UCLA men’s volleyball
  • Frederick Richard, Michigan/USA Gymnastics
  • Izzy Scane, Northwestern women’s lacrosse
  • Juju Watkins, USC women’s basketball
  • Kate Douglass, UVA/USA Swimming
  • Katie Ledecky, USA Swimming
  • Kiki Milloy, Tennessee softball
  • Laulauga Tausaga-Collins, USA Track & Field
  • Madisen Skinner, Texas volleyball
  • Noah Jaffee, U.S. Paralympics Swimming
  • Noah Lyles, USA Track & Field
  • Payton Wilson, NC State football
  • Rose Zhang, Stanford women’s golf
  • Ryan Crouser, USA Track & Field
  • Ryan Murphy, USA Swimming
  • Sarah Hughes, USC/USA Beach Volleyball
  • Travis Hunter, Colorado football
  • Zach Edey, Purdue men’s basketball

Past AAU Sullivan Award Winners, Swimmers:

  • 1944: Ann Curtis
  • 1964: Don Schollander
  • 1968: Debbie Meyer
  • 1970: John Kinsella
  • 1971: Mark Spitz
  • 1975: Tim Shaw
  • 1977: John Naber
  • 1978: Tracy Caulkins
  • 1989: Janet Evans
  • 2003: Michael Phelps
  • 2006: Jessica Long
  • 2012: Missy Franklin
  • 2021: Caeleb Dressel (co-recipient with gymnastics’ Simone Biles)

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Energetic Old Guy with a Photographic Memory
4 months ago

Thought for sure that Ledecky would have won the Sullivan Award by now. She was a good candidate in 2014 but it went to a college football player (Ezekiel Elliott) that year — go figure. Her boffo performance at Rio in 2016 certainly also warranted winning it, but alas no.

About Yanyan Li

Yanyan Li

Although Yanyan wasn't the greatest competitive swimmer, she learned more about the sport of swimming by being her high school swim team's manager for four years. She eventually ventured into the realm of writing and joined SwimSwam in January 2022, where she hopes to contribute to and learn more about …

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