Two weeks ago, USA Swimming honored the 2023 award winners as part of its annual workshop in Colorado Springs. The event recognized eight different individuals and one institution for their continued commitment to aquatics excellence. More than 500 athletes, coaches, officials, board members, and volunteers attended the ceremony.
Former USA Swimming Chief Operating Officer Mike Unger received the USA Swimming Award, the most distinguished award of the organization, which is voted on by past honorees.
The USA Swimming Foundation Impact Award was presented to Russ Meyer and Marcy Shafer. According to USA Swimming, Meyer and Shafer are well-known benefactors who are constantly involved in supporting their communities. They have been long-time supporters of the USA Swimming Foundation and have ceaselessly worked toward impulsing water safety, and healthy and sustainable competition around the U.S.
Double Award Triumph for Ron Aitken
Nevada Sandpipers’ head coach Ron Aitken was rewarded as the Developmental Coach of the Year and with the Open Water Achievement Award. The former is given to the coach who placed the most athletes on the National Junior Team and National Team in both pool and open water, and the latter is given to a person or organization with the greatest contribution to open water swimming only.
Aitken’s most recent achievements included coaching three junior athletes to two gold and two silver medals at the 2022 World Championships. Furthermore, the Sandpipers made up 25% of the U.S. team roster for the 2022 Open Water World Junior Championships. Aitken also helped guide Katie Grimes to the second-best U.S. 10K Worlds finish in history.
USA Swimming’s Secretary and General Counsel Michelle Steinfeld received the Athletes Appreciation Award. Since 1983, such honor rewards individuals dedicated to making an impact for the Athletes Movement.
The Pettigrew award, created in honor of former official Ken Pettigrew for excellence in officiating, was granted to Jackie Allender. USA Swimming said she stands out for her “humble servant leadership style.” The Officials Committee selected Allender for this award.
The Safe Sport Impact Award was conferred to Trish Martin, which rewards those whose efforts and support contribute to the Safe Sport Committee’s mission of protecting members from physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse. Martin is the current Chair of USA Swimming’s Safe Sport Committee and the General Chair for North Carolina Swimming.
Annie Norries was presented with the Athletes Distinguished Service Award, given to an Athlete Representative or Committee Member who has had significant influence in the sport. Norries has served on different committees and departments for USA Swimming since becoming a National Athlete Representative in 2015. She currently exercises as a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion National Athlete Rep.
Emmaus Aquatic Club: Water Safety Dedication
EMAC won the The Adolph Kiefer Safety Commendation Award. This honor recognizes a person or group exhibiting exceptional commitment to water safety. Earlier this year, EMAC partnered up with The Kindness Project to give free swim lessons to foster care kids. The Kindness Project is a non-profit organization offering free resources and assistance to foster families around the Eastern Pennsylvania area.
Full List of 2023 USA Swimming Award-Winners
- USA Swimming Award: Mike Unger
- USA Swimming Foundation Impact Award: Russ Meyer & Marcy Shafer
- Developmental Coach of the Year: Ron Aitken
- Open Water Achievement Award: Ron Aitken
- Athletes Appreciation Award: Michelle Steinfeld
- Pettigrew Award: Jackie Allender
- Safe Sport Impact Award: Trish Martin
- Athletes Distinguished Service Award: Annie Norris
- Adolph Kiefer Safety Commendation Award: Emmaus Aquatic Club