When you’re a swimmer, a swim coach, or a swim fan, there’s nothing like Olympic years.
The Women’s Sports Foundation has nominated two swimmers for their 2012 Sportswoman of the Year award in the individual sports category out of seven finalists: Missy Franklin and Jessica Long.
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Franklin was thrust into the international spotlight this summer, when her effervescent personality and 4 gold medals made her a fan favorite at the Summer Olympics. The 17-year old is still only in high school, but is already a World Record holder in the 200 backstroke.
Long’s story still isn’t completed, but this week at the Paralympics she’s already nabbed three gold medals, with 5 races yet to come (and she’s a favorite in all of them). Long already has a huge honor under her belt, as earlier this summer she won an ESPY award from ESPN for the best athlete with a disability.
Past swimming winners of the award include Natalie Coughlin in 2003, Jenny Thompson in 2000, and Amy van Dyken in 1996. Swimmers generally fare best in Olympic years, where their stocks are the highest, so Franklin and Long have a great chance.
Their competition will be gymnast Gabby Douglas; track star Allyson Felix; Paralympic track star Tatyana McFadden (who won the 2011 Chicago Marathon wheelchair division); Alipne skier Lindsey Vonn; and 2012 Olympic tennis champion Serena Williams. Douglas, the women’s gymnastics all-around champion in London, is likely the biggest challenger to the swimming pair.