“The SwimSwam Ballot” for the 2013 Golden Goggles Awards

Need a cheat-sheet for your picks for the 2013 Golden Goggles Awards? Trying to break a tie for your vote for a specific award? Not sure who to go with? Well, have no fear, SwimSwam is here to help you work through the clutter.

Before we begin, let’s make sure we’re fully political: everyone nominated for one of the 2013 Golden Goggles Awards is a worthy candidate, all are elite swimmers, and we’d be happy to see almost all of them win. The list is one of some of the most accomplished swimmers and coaches for the best swimming nation in the world.

But let’s be real: this isn’t 6 & unders. It’s World Championship, international, Olympic swimming. Someone wins and someone loses, and not everybody gets a trophy. We prefer it that way, and that’s how we’re going to pick.

Don’t like our picks? It’s all in good fun anyway, right? Make your selections here! The 2013 Golden Goggles Awards will take place on Sunday, November 24th, in Los Angeles, California.

Breakout Performer of the Year:

  • Jimmy Feigen (100 free silver medal at Worlds, anchored bronze medal 400 free relay)
  • Chase Kalisz (NCAA Champ in 400 IM, Worlds silver in 400 IM)
  • Simone Manuel (World Champion as part of 400 free relay, Multiple NAG Records)
  • Michael McBroom (Worlds silver medalist, American Record holder, in 800 free)

SwimSwam vote: McBroom

Our vote might be different if we were asked which of these swimmers had the better season. With this sort of award, though, we need to look deeper, into the nature of the award. Feigen was an Olympic medalist coming into the 2012-2013 season. Kalisz wasn’t on the Olympic team, but the reality is that his path to being “next” in American IM’ing was crystal-clear even in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics.

Simone Manuel was outstanding, and really did some damage on the USA Swimming National Age Group Records, but no individual medals.

That leaves Michael McBroom. Prior to this season, he’d never represented the U.S. internationally that we can find. Then, he was on the Short Course World Championship roster in the 1500 free, then he came to Worlds Trials and fought Connor Jaeger every stroke, then he went to the World Championships and took silver in the 800 free and broke the American Record! Nobody saw that coming!

No illusions here though – Feigen and his silver in the 100 free probably takes the day. Everyone loves a sprinter.

Perseverance Award:

  • Eugene Godsoe (silver in 50 fly at World Championships)
  • Liz Pelton (gold in 400 free and medley relays at Worlds)
  • David Plummer (silver in 100 back at World Championships)
  • Megan Romano (gold in 400 free and medley relays at Worlds, also, “the one you don’t want to face on the end of a relay”)

SwimSwam vote: Godsoe

This is always a weird award. I never really seem to understand the thought process behind the nominees. Did Pelton have a great summer after not making the Olympic team? Sure, but she’s only 19 – it’s not like she was going to retire. Plummer took his first individual international medal after losing out on the Olympics to Nick Thoman (who didn’t swim Worlds Trials this year).

The intent of the word perseverance in this context, based on the nominees, seems to be “who had the best year after not making the ‘big team’ the year before.”

I don’t like that interpretation. I think it should be someone who’s fought through some major adversity to get to where they are, or someone who has pounded their head against a wall and finally broken through. Simply failing to make the team the year before, in a sport as volatile is swimming, doesn’t seem like massive adversity.

That’s why our vote is Godsoe. He was an NCAA Champion, and moved across the country to Charlotte to try and make a pro career out of swimming. After failing to make the Olympic team, he took some initiative, came back to Stanford, was a spearhead for instituting a newly-reorganized pro group, and not only won the 50 and 100 fly at U.S. Trials, but took silver in the 50 at the World Championship.

Aside: if there were an award not to be based simply on the World Championships, this would be it. How about someone like Sarah Henry, who has twice come back from ACL injuries to make this year’s National Team, and will now swim at the Duel in the Pool? THAT, my friends, is perseverance. Write-in vote goes to Henry.

Coach of the Year:

  • Rick Demont (Tucson Ford)
  • Bruce Gemmell (NCAP)
  • Dave Salo (Trojan Swim Club)
  • Todd Schmitz (Colorado Stars)

SwimSwam vote: Gemmell

The winner here should be Bruce Gemmell. There will be lots of cries that he only coached Katie Ledecky for a year, but so what? He coached her to the greatest year that a distance swimmer has ever had. The NBA gave Tom Thibodeau the Coach of the Year in his first year with the Bulls. Did anybody tell him that couldn’t happen because he didn’t coach Derrick Rose in College? Did anyone tell Bruce Arians he couldn’t be the NFL’s Coach of the Year in 2012 because it was his first year on the job? I don’t think so.

Ledecky wasn’t his only success, either. He also spent part of the year coaching his son Andrew Gemmell onto the World Championship team in open water (with coaching time shared by the Georgia staff), and his site also produced National Age Group Record breaker Carsten Vissering.

That’s a well-rounded coaching year if I’ve ever seen one.

Relay Performance of the Year:

  • Women’s 400 free relay – Worlds
  • Women’s 800 free relay – Worlds
  • Men’s 800 free relay – Worlds
  • Women’s 400 medley relay – Worlds

SwimSwam vote: Women’s 400 free relay

All four of these relays won gold at the World Championships, but in our minds, this is an easy choice. When Megan Romano ran down Australia’s team leader Alicia Coutts on the anchor leg of the 400 free relay, it was a Lezak-like moment. It was an incredible finish. It was an amazing finish. It was the kind of finish that swimming needs more of. Not to mention, it was a new American Record – the only such relay record at the meet.

Right now, the vote is close between the three free relays, but the women’s 800 is in the lead. It’s probably getting a small bump in that it was the only relay with both Franklin and Ledecky on it. Also, it was a really, really, really fast relay.

Female Race of the Year

  • Missy Franklin, 200 free – Worlds
  • Katie Ledecky, 800 free – Worlds
  • Katie Ledecky, 1500 free – Worlds
  • Haley Anderson – 5KM Open Water – Worlds

SwimSwam vote: Katie Ledecky, 1500 free

One commenter brought up a very good point that having two Katie Ledecky World Record races in the vote could end up splitting the “Ledecky” crowd. When I read that comment, I sort of agreed with it, especially given that I thought the more impressive of the two times was in the non-Olympic 1500.

Early returns seem to show no conflict though, as Ledecky’s 1500 free is currently winning in a landslide (55% or 1,097 votes – no other choice has more than 459 as of posting).

Ledecky smashed this World Record by six seconds. And this is no plain-old World Record. Prior to Kate Ziegler’s 2007 swim, Janet Evans had held it for 20 years, and then Ziegler survived the suited years, which is basically as impressive. And Ledecky crushed it.

Thus far, no other choice has a bigger margin int he fan voting than Ledecky’s 1500 (aside from Ledecky’s voting for Female Athlete of the Year).

Male Race of the Year

  • Matt Grevers – 100 Back – Worlds
  • Ryan Lochte – 200 Back – Worlds
  • Ryan Lochte – 200 IM – Worlds

SwimSwam vote: Ryan Lochte – 200 IM

Once again, all three gold medals, and how do you tell the difference, especially when none were World Records? With a less obvious choice, the double-Lochte might result in a bigger “split vote” influence than we’ll see on the women’s side.

We’ve made our vote on the basis, then, of who beat the most impressive field, and that goes to Lochte, in our opinion. The likes of Kosuke Hagino, Thiago Pereira, Wang Shun, and Laszlo Cseh were all right on Lochte’s heels. That means he had to stay calm and collected against a final of very, very different swimmers, and with nay-sayers saying the distractions would cost him this win, Lochte won by over a second (and with basically the same time he swam in London).

If I were ranking the swims, I’d probably go Lochte 200 IM, Matt Grevers 100 Back, and Lochte 200 Back in that order. This is one though where it’s really hard to have a strong opinion on, because all were about equivalently-impressive.

Female Athlete of the Year

  • Haley Anderson
  • Missy Franklin
  • Katie Ledecky

SwimSwam vote: Katie Ledecky

Ledecky is winning this one in another crushing vote (70% as of posting), which is expected. We voted for her too.

I don’t think it’s quite that much of a runaway, though. Remember that Missy Franklin has an all-time year as well. Ledecky won 4 golds and broke two World Records in just four races, but Franklin won 6 golds: more than any woman has ever won at a single World Championships.

She became the winningest female long course World Champion in history too. Her 9 career golds are more than any woman has ever won at this meet. She picked up gold in the 200 free, an event she didn’t even medal in at the Olympics.

Still, though, gotta give the nod to Katie Ledecky. Only four women have held an 800 or 1500 free long course World Record in the last 25 years: Janet Evans, Rebecca Adlington, Kate Ziegler, and Ledecky. Ledecky now holds them both. That’s special.

Male Athlete of the Year

  • Matt Grevers
  • Ryan Lochte

SwimSwam vote: Ryan Lochte

Love him or hate him, Lochte is the champion of American men’s swimming right now. Even with the reality show, the sponsor commitments, and the partying, Lochte was responsible (in whole or as part of a relay) for three of the United States’ 4 gold medals on the men’s side when he won the 200 IM, the 200 back, and was part of the 800 free relay. Nobody else was a part of more than one of those (Grevers, Dwyer, Houchin, and Berens were all in a single medal-round winning swim).

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7 years ago

Please don’t let this post get lost amongst other later posts. Please keep this post at the top to gain people’s comments.

7 years ago

Also to add to Bruce Gemmel’s case for coach of the year, Jordan Mattern, first time international team member and gold medalist in the 800 free relay, spent her summer training with him.

Lane Four
7 years ago

Although she did not register a world record *(textile instead), I believe that Katie Ledecky’s 400 meter freestyle was a greater performance than either of her world record swims. The way she went out from the gun and did not let up until she touched the wall breaking the 4:00-barrier was a much gutsier and greater swim. I know. I know. How do you argue with world records. For me it isn’t about the world record but the WAY she swam the 400. She nearly broke a tech-suit record that LOOKED to be untouchable and now Katie has that one swim firmly set in her sight.

Reply to  Lane Four
7 years ago

I AGREE!! more than anything else, I remember her reaction when she saw the time. She really didn’t expect to go under FOUR MINUTES!! That fist pump at the end was awesome and so genuine.

Reply to  Lane Four
7 years ago

The 1,500 free is the race of the year,


the 400 free is the swim of the year.

I don’t understand why USA Swimming does not award “swim of the year”

Lane Four
Reply to  aswimfan
7 years ago

I agree. That 1500 RACE was classic!

7 years ago

You’re not sure what the word perserverance means? This award is given to the athlete who came back from adversity, sickness, injury, etc., to have an outstanding performance(s) in 2013, with special emphasis on the 2013 FINA World Championships!! Romano misses Olympics by a hair but jumps back in pool at US OPEN and brings in 2 times that would have been first place at trials! Not to mention her oustanding performace Worlds! Come on Guys!.

Thanks Mrs. Romano
Reply to  Nana
7 years ago

Well, we know who Megan’s mom is voting for. Lol.

Reply to  Nana
7 years ago

Romano does have a strong case in two regards. First, she was hailed as the next great American sprinter when she set age group records when she was young. Many believing she was a cert to make the 2008 Olympic team but she leveled off in her late teens, struggled to live up to the predictions and attention her early results had generated. Some people then were comparing her to Christina Swindle. Then she kept on in the sport and progressed again competing in college. Secondly, many thought 2012 was going to be her time. Not a question of whether she would make the team but a matter of which events and how many individual swims she would potentially contend… Read more »

Rafael Teixeira
Reply to  KeithM
7 years ago

I stick with not yours, but braden definition of Perseverance.. Godsoe could be, if we would not limit to US, we could Add Pereira, Boyle, Popov after being stabber… that is what I would call perseverance

Reply to  Rafael Teixeira
7 years ago

And yet my understanding and Braden’s are virtually the same.

He commented, “I think it should be someone who’s fought through some major adversity to get to where they are, or someone who has pounded their head against a wall and finally broken through.”

That describes Romano’s career to a tee going back much farther than just her 2012 trials disappointment.

7 years ago

I agree with Braden re: perseverance award.

I did NOT get the inclusion of Pelton AT ALL.

7 years ago

Well I was going to write a long post when this first came up, but then as I read the article I realised Braden had made the same picks and for pretty much the same reasons I would have done. So I’ll just say ‘I agree with Braden’. 🙂

Also agree to some extent about the 400 vs 1500 Ledecky swim. The 1500 was definitely the best race hands down, but that 400 was pretty special too, but overall I’d still go with the 1500. Nearly beating a suit record doesn’t match beating a record that survived all attempts to beat it in suits, even in a non Olympic event.

7 years ago

OMG!!! How did you find out who NANA is?? I kind of feel embarrassed! Someone’s mom writes in. . . . GEEZ. . . . . .I have been a huge fan Swim Swam for years and love reading the comments. . . I had to write something I’ve seen first hand what this child-athlete has been through. . . but I’m sure everyone has a story. . . . anyway YES you’re right I’m voting for Megan!!! Keep up the good work you guys!!!

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. 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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