Simone Manuel, Caeleb Dressel Finish in Top 10 of AP Athlete of the Year Votes

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:

Athlete Pts
Kawhi Leonard 42
Lamar Jackson 19
Patrick Mahomes 17
Rafael Nadal 16
Giannis Antetokounmpo 15
Tom Brady 13
Brooks Koepka 12
Zion Williamson 9
Kyle Busch 8
Caeleb Dressel 6
Joe Burrow 6
Lionel Messi 5
Pieter-Steph du Toit 3
Stephen Strasburg 2
Mike Trout 2
Novak Djokovic 2
Lewis Hamilton 1
Rory McIlroy 1
Mohamed Salah 1

AP Female Athlete of the Year Final Voting:

Athlete Pts
Simone Biles 66
Megan Rapinoe 60
Mikaela Shiffrin 26
Elena Delle Donne 12
Ash Barty 6
Sifan Hassan 4
Sabrina Ionescu 3
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce 3
Jin-Young Ko 1
Amanda Nunes 1
Simone Manuel 1

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How much can CD bench?

Kyle Busch is clearly a superior athlete. Spot on rankings AP


Explain how he’s not?


You clearly do not understand the nervous systems’ role in athletic performance. #bringonthedownvotes


These results clearly indicate more recognition towards American sports leagues on the men’s side


Lewis Hamilton, the 6-time F1 world champion who set the record for most points in a single season this season, only getting one vote and Lionel Messi, the greatest soccer player ever, only getting 5 votes, are clear examples of this.


I’d like to see Zion Williamson race Caeleb Dressel in a 200 fly or 200 IM.


And I’d like to see dressel try and win a streetball game against Zion


Dressel is a freak athlete. He definitely has a better chance at beating Zion in a streetball game than Zion does at beating Dressel in a race

Ol' Longhorn

Both have zero percent chance in either. A 42 inch vertical jump for a 6’3″ guy may be freakish for a swimmer, but a dime a dozen for all pro track and field, basketball, football players.


Didn’t Dressel have the vert in all of Florida athletics his senior? Still got my money on Dressel

Samuel Huntington

i am pretty sure Dressels vertical leap is better than almost all track, basketball, and football athletes

Justin Thompson

Not true, very few athletes have a 40+ inch vertical

Ol’ Longhorn

You’ve obviously never been to Rucker Park.


Zion would have to forfeit as soon as his shoes explode…


I’d like to see Zion Williamson swim a 200 of anything


I’d like to see Zion swim anything. Even a 50?

Samuel Huntington

Anybody who isn’t a swimmer would have a real hard time swimming a 200. And if you never learned to swim it would be impossible.

Swimming is a unique skill that requires a lot of practice to be semi decent in it. I’m guessing top athletes from a lot of sports would have trouble swimming.


He can’t. Zion trains USRPT….

Ol’ Longhorn

I’d like to see Dressel score a single point in an NBA game.


I say the same about Zion

Ya boi

Ayyyy, was waiting for this lol, bro is yet to have played 1 second of NBA basketball. Like how can you give him nine votes???


U guys all forget the Shaq vs Phelps thing


Funny because Caleb can basically jump just as high as Zion, Caleb is way more athletic than Zion

Justin Thompson

I don’t why people are comparing the two. Zion has a 45 inch vertical and is a freak athlete himself, but these list are always going to opinion based so why get all worked up?

projection artist

It’s pretty simple psychology. By saying Zion is better than Dressel, it’s like you’re saying that the guy on the high school or college basketball team is a better athlete than (insert commenter here). People don’t actually feel bad for Caeleb because he didn’t win – this is all about what the loss means for themselves.


Some sports just produce better all around athletes than others. We can’t knock an athlete for the sport they play, we need to look at their respective dominance in their sport


The real questions is, is everyone sure Zion CAN swim?

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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