LOS ANGELES – Olympic gold medalists and world champions Katie Ledecky (Bethesda, Md.) and Ryan Lochte (Daytona Beach, Fla.) claimed the Female and Male Athlete of the Year awards Sunday at the star-studded 2013 USA Swimming Golden Goggle Awards at the JW Marriott Los Angeles at LA Live.
This year’s event, hosted by comedian Kevin Nealon and featuring a performance by Cirque du Soleil, celebrated the accomplishments of the U.S. team at the 2013 FINA World Championships in Barcelona, where the Americans topped the medal table with 31 medals – 14 gold, eight silver and nine bronze.
The 16-year-old Ledecky earned Female Athlete of the Year honors after taking her performances to another level at the FINA World Championships with four gold medals and world-record swims in the 800m free and 1500m free. For her efforts, Ledecky won the FINA Trophy as the highest scoring female swimmer in Barcelona and was subsequently named the U.S. Olympic Committee’s SportsWoman of the Year.
“This award represents a process, and I’d to thank all my coaches from when I started swimming when I was six for the Palisades Porpoises to my coach Yuri Suguiyama, leading up to the Olympics; Jon Urbanchek coached me during the Olympics; and now my current coach Bruce Gemmell,” Ledecky said. “It’s been a process, and it’s been a fun one. I owe that to my family, my teammates, my classmates, my teachers – everyone I’ve been surrounded with.”
In addition to winning Female Athlete of the Year honors, Ledecky also took home Female Race of the Year accolades for the second straight year for her world-record swim in the 1500m free at the 2013 FINA World Championships – a performance that bested the previous world record by more than six seconds.
Lochte won Male Athlete of the Year honors for the fourth time after leading the American men with four medals – gold in the 200m IM, 200m back and 4x200m free relay; and silver in the 400m free relay in Barcelona. He also picked up Male Race of the Year honors for his gold-medal performance in the 200m IM, which he won at the World Championships for the third straight time and finished more than a second clear of the field.
Also winning two awards Sunday was Megan Romano (St. Petersburg, Fla.), who was honored with the Perseverance Award and as a member of the women’s 4x100m free relay, which claimed Relay Performance of the Year honors. After falling short of making the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team, Romano rebounded to collect a team-high six medals at the 2013 World University Games in Kazan, Russia, and followed with a pair of relay gold medals at the 2013 FINA World Championships.
Romano and teammates Missy Franklin (Centennial, Colo.), Natalie Coughlin (Vallejo, Calif.) and Shannon Vreeland (Overland Park, Kan.) picked up Relay Performance of the Year honors for winning gold and setting an American record in the 4x100m free relay in Barcelona. Romano’s 52.60 anchor leg to lift the U.S. to gold was one of the lasting memories of the World Championships.
19-year-old Chase Kalisz (Bel Air, Md.) was tabbed as the Breakout Performer of the Year after making a successful debut in major international competition with a silver medal in the 400m IM at the World Championships. He also won the event at Phillips 66 Nationals and took home the 400y IM at the 2013 NCAA Championships.
Ledecky’s coach Bruce Gemmell (Bethesda, Md.) of Nation’s Capital Swim Club was honored as the Coach of the Year. In his first season coaching at Nation’s Capital, Gemmell guided to four gold medals and two world records at the FINA World Championships. She became the first American woman to win the 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle events at a single World Championships.
Proceeds from the Golden Goggle Awards will benefit the USA Swimming Foundation, which has the mission to save lives and build champions – in the pool and in life. In addition to its Make a Splash initiative, a national, child-focused water safety campaign that stresses the importance of learning to swim, the USA Swimming Foundation supports the U.S. National Team and its development efforts aim to establish an endowment to strengthen the future of USA Swimming’s programs and services. The Foundation also serves as the home for our National and Olympic Team Alumni reunions and regional events.
2013 USA Swimming Golden Goggle Award Winners:
• Breakout Performer of the Year: Chase Kalisz
• Perseverance Award: Megan Romano
• Coach of the Year: Bruce Gemmell
• Relay Performance of the Year: Women’s 4x100m Free Relay (FINA World Championships: Missy Franklin, Natalie Coughlin, Shannon Vreeland, Megan Romano)
• Female Race of the Year: Katie Ledecky, 1500m Free (FINA World Championships)
• Male Race of the Year: Ryan Lochte, 200m IM (FINA World Championships)
• Female Athlete of the Year: Katie Ledecky
• Male Athlete of the Year: Ryan Lochte