- November 21st, 2016
- Awards presentation begins at 6:30 Eastern Time
- New York City, New York
- Live Stream here
OLYMPIC TEAM INTRODUCTION
USA SWIMMING FOUNDATION SPOTLIGHT
FEMALE RACE OF THE YEAR – SIMONE MANUEL, 100 FREESTYLE, 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES
The first award of the night goes to Simone Manuel for winning gold in the 100 freestyle in Rio this summer. Manuel’s victory there was notable for a number of different reasons. The Campbell sisters of Australia were heavily favored to win, Manuel tied with Penny Oleksiak of Canada, and Manuel became the first African-American swimmer in history to win an individual gold medal at the Olympics.
MALE RACE OF THE YEAR – MICHAEL PHELPS, 200 BUTTERFLY, 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES
In his acceptance speech, Phelps said this was one of the races he wanted the most, as well one of the ones he had to dig the deepest to win. At 31 years of age, Phelps defied the collective wisdom that said this was a young man’s race. But, it seems he was motivated by being touched out by South African Chad Le Clos in 2012 in London, and Phelps recaptured the title sixteen years after he first qualified the Olympic in this event.
TEAM LEADERSHIP AWARD – ELIZABETH BEISEL
This wasn’t an award that the fans voted on. Instead, this was chosen by fellow swimmers and was kept a bit under the hat, as Beisel said in her acceptance speech that she didn’t even know she’d been nominated. Rio was Beisel’s third Olympic Games, and she served as a team captain, providing rookie swimmers with the wealth of her experiences, having been on the USA National Team since middle school.
IMPACT AWARD – MICHAEL PHELPS
This is Michael’s second award of the night, and almost certainly won’t be the last. Dick Ebersol, who presented the award, recognized Debbie Phelps, Bob Bowman, Peter Carlisle, and Nicole Phelps before calling Phelps up on stage. The presenters introduced this award as a kind of lifetime achievement award, and it’s hard to imagine anyone else at the Golden Goggles having as much of an impact on the sport as Phelps has had in the past sixteen years.
BREAKOUT SWIMMER OF THE YEAR – LILLY KING
Lilly King was our pick on our official ballot (see the link above) and seems like the obvious candidate, although the other candidates were certainly deserving as well. But, King who had a great freshman NCAA season, took her game to another level in Rio. She was the center of controversy regarding her criticism of doping, and backed up her finger wagging with an individual gold in the 100 breast in an Olympic Record time, before helping Team USA win the medley relay to close out the meet.
PERSEVERANCE AWARD – ANTHONY ERVIN
“Who would’ve thought — the Perseverance Award going to a sprinter?” quipped Ervin as he opened his acceptance speech. Yet, Ervin has been on the international swimming stage, off and on, for sixteen years, ever since he was 19 years old and won a gold medal in the 50 free in Sydney. Ervin’s struggles have been well-documented, and this summer, he became the oldest male swimmer ever to win an individual gold with another victory in the 50 free.
COACH OF THE YEAR – DAVE DURDEN
Durden won this award for the first time this evening. Durden has been head coach at Cal since 2007, and this summer, he coached six men to berths on the USA Olympic Team, including individual gold medalists Ryan Murphy and Anthony Ervin, Nathan Adrian(relay gold, individual bronze), Josh Prenot (silver), Tom Shields (relay gold), and Jacob Pebley.
RELAY PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR – MEN’S 4×100 FREESTYLE RELAY
Although the men’s medley relay took gold in Olympic Record fashion, they were considered safer bets to win. However, after an entire quad of handwringing about the state of USA men’s swimming, Team USA put together a squad of two veterans (Nathan Adrian and Michael Phelps) and two youngsters (Caeleb Dressel and Ryan Held) that overcame the French and other teams to take back Olympic gold after settling for silver in 2012.
FEMALE SWIMMER OF THE YEAR – KATIE LEDECKY
MALE SWIMMER OF THE YEAR – MICHAEL PHELPS
Again, no surprise here. Phelps made his last campaign a memorable one. Despite some doubts among fans that being on the “wrong” side of 30 would hinder his efforts, Phelps won his three individual events at Olympic Trials. Once in Rio, he helped Team USA win gold in the 4×100 free, then he won individual gold in the 200 fly and 200 IM, and two more relay golds in the 4×200 free and 4×100 medley relay. Even the one event he didn’t win was quite memorable, as he was part of a historic three-way tie for silver in the 100 fly. At the age of 31, Phelps won five gold and one silver in his last Olympic Games, padding a medal count that already seemed like it could never surpassed.