The United States Olympic Committee announced its 2011-2012 athletes and teams of the year Monday, and two swimmers made the list. The first one, which should come as no great surprise, is Michael Phelps. The second is Jessica Long. Phelps won SportsMan of the year and Long won Paralympic SportsWoman of the year. Both of these individuals have received the same recognition in previous years: Phelps in 2004 and 2008 and Long in 2006.
Phelps’s accolades piled higher in London, and he capped his career as the most decorated Olympian in history. Phelps’s four golds and two silvers in London brought him to a grand total of 22 Olympic medals–18 of which were gold. In 2012 he took home the gold in 200 IM, 100 fly, 800 free relay, and 400 medley relay. He swam his way to the second podium spot in 200 butterfly and the 400 free relay. London capped a hugely successful career for Phelps, who has announced that he will now retire. This recognition adds to the many that have accrued over his 12-year Olympic career across four Games.
Long grabbed 8 swimming medals in London, almost matching Phelps’s 2008 feat with five golds, two silvers, and a bronze. She’s the fastest Paralympic swimmer in the U.S. and holds five world records, two of which she lowered in London as she defended her title and became the three-time Paralympic champion in her signature events, 100 and 400 free. She also claimed gold in 100 butterfly, 100 breaststroke, and 200 IM. Along with this recognition and several others she’s received in the past, she has a grand total of 17 Paralympic medals in just three Olympics.
Missy Franklin was nominated for SportsWoman of the year, but track and field star Allyson Felix ended up taking the title. Swimmers tend to be recipients of this annual award every four years, but sometimes in off-Olympic years as well. The last time a swimmer won a USOC athlete of the year award was in 2008 when three earned honors: Paralympian Erin Popovich, Natalie Coughlin, and Phelps.
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