A pair of American swimmers have finished in the top 10 in the 2019 Associate Press Athlete of the Year voting. Caeleb Dressel finished in a tie for 10th in the voting for Male Athlete of the Year, while Simone Manuel finished in a tie for 10th in Female Athlete of the Year.
Dressel had a bounceback year for the record books in 2019. After winning just 2 gold medals, int he 100 fly and the men’s 400 free relay, at the Pan Pacific Championships in 2018, Dressel went big at the World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea. There he won 6 gold medals and 2 silver medals, including wins in all 4 of his individual entries: the 50 fly, 100 fly, 50 free, and 100 free. In the semi-finals of the 100 fly, he broke Michael Phelps’ World Record.
Dressel received 6 out of 180 votes in the male category. The Male Athlete of the Year award was won by basketball player Kawhi Leonard, who led the Toronto Raptors to the first NBA Championship in franchise history this summer. That included a game 7 buzzer beater in the Eastern Conference Finals, which was the first game 7 buzzer beater in NBA history.
Manuel, meanwhile, won 4 gold medals of her own, and 7 total. That included wins in the 50 and 100 freestyle individually. She is now the two-time defending World Champion and Olympic champion in the 100 free. She now has 16 medals in her career at the World Championships in long course, including 11 gold. Only Katie Ledecky (15) has more gold medals all-time at the World Championships, and Manuel is now tied with Missy Franklin with for 4th on the all-time medals list behind Natalie Coughlin (20), Ledecky (18), and Sarah Sjostrom (17).
Manuel received 1 out of 183 votes cast in the female category. The award was won by American gymnast Simone Biles, who made history in several ways in 2019. Widely regarded as the greatest female gymnast in history, Biles won 5 gold medals at the World Championships, which gives her the most Worlds medals (25) and most Worlds gold medals (19) of all-time. She also won the individual all-around title, which gives her the most female World all-around titles (5) in history. She also debuted 2 new skills that now bear her name: the Biles, a double-twisting double-tucked somersault dismount on the balance beam; and the Biles II, a triple-twisting double-tucked somersault on floor exercise.
The award is voted on annually by a panel of AP sports editors from across the United States, meaning that most winners in history have been American. The awards were first given in 1931, where swimmer Helene Madison received the Female Athlete of the Year honor. Swimmers have been chosen as Athlete of the Year 12 times, including most recently Katie Ledecky’s win for Female Athlete of the Year in 2017.
AP Male Athlete of the Year Final Voting:
|Pieter-Steph du Toit||3|
AP Female Athlete of the Year Final Voting:
|Elena Delle Donne||12|