By USA Swimming | Sunday, September 17, 2017
DALLAS, Texas – Following a breakout performance at the 2017 FINA World Championships, Caeleb Dressel (Green Cove Springs, Fla./Bolles School Sharks/Florida) was named USA Swimming Athlete of the Year on Saturday at the United States Aquatic Sports Convention.
This summer, Dressel joined Michael Phelps as the only swimmers to win seven titles at a single FINA World Championships. He won individual gold in the 50-meter freestyle, 100m freestyle and 100m butterfly to become the first American male since Ryan Lochte in 2011 to claim at least three individual titles at the same world championships. He also set American records in the 50m free, 100m free and 50m fly. On June 29, Dressel became the first swimmer in history to win three world titles in a single day with gold in the 50m free, 100m butterfly and mixed 400m free relay. He also won gold in the 400m medley relay, 400m free relay and mixed 400m medley relay in Budapest.
Also among the awards presented in Dallas was the Phillips 66 Performance of the Year Award, which went to Lilly King (Evansville, Ind./Indiana University) for her world-record and gold-medal performance in the women’s 100m breaststroke at the 2017 FINA World Championships. In a highly anticipated final, King jumped out to a quick lead off the blocks, led by more than half a second at the turn and held off the field over the final 50 meters to touch in a world-record time of 1:04.13.
The 2017 USA Swimming Award was presented to Chuck Wielgus, the late executive director of USA Swimming, who passed away on April 23 of complications from colon cancer. From the start of his tenure in July 1997, Wielgus led USA Swimming to new heights and notable achievements in several key areas. Well-known for his core objectives of “Build, Promote, Achieve,” Wielgus served as executive director of the National Governing Body for nearly 20 years.
In the year before Wielgus arrived, USA Swimming had fewer than 200,000 members and during his tenure membership growth has doubled to more than 400,000 members. Along the same lines, revenues increased by 600 percent, including an expansion of corporate partners to approximately 15 annually. Wielgus’ vision to promote swimming to wider audiences resulted in securing annual year-round network television coverage of championship swimming events, and he was instrumental to growing the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Swimming into a major showcase event in a 17,000-seat entertainment venue. The 2016 Olympic Trials was completely sold out with more than 200,000 tickets for 15 sessions at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha. During Wielgus’ tenure, there were 156 podium performances by the U.S. Olympic Swim Team in five Olympic Games, including 33 medals (16 gold) at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Ashley Twichell (Fayetteville, N.Y./North Carolina Aquatic Club) and Jordan Wilimovsky (Malibu, Calif./Team Santa Monica) claimed top open water swimming honors following individual medal performances at the 2017 FINA World Championships. Twichell was named Female Open Water Swimmer of the Year after winning gold in the women’s 5-kilometer event, while Wilimovsky earned Fran Crippen Male Open Water Swimmer of the Year accolades after taking silver in the 10K. Twichell won the award for the first time since 2011, while Wilimovsky earned his third straight honor.
The members of the U.S. roster for the World University Games – Taylor Abbott (Cedar Park, Texas/University of Tennessee), Katy Campbell (Federal Way, Wash./Team Santa Monica), David Heron (Mission Viejo, Calif./University of Tennessee) and Becca Mann (Homer Glen, Ill./Trojan Swim Club) – were awarded the Open Water Excellence Award, given to the individuals making the greatest contribution to open water swimming for the year. This quartet opted not to compete on race day due to high water and air temperatures in Taipei.
Aspen Shelton (Willow Park, Texas/Fort Worth Area Swim Team) earned the Trischa L. Zorn Award after winning six gold medals at the 2017 Can Am Para-Swimming Championships.
On the coaching front, Ron Aitken of Sandpipers of Nevada claimed USA Swimming Developmental Coach of the Year honors.
A complete list of 2017 award winners:
- Female Open Water Swimmer of the Year: Ashley Twichell (North Carolina Aquatic Club)
- Fran Crippen Memorial Male Swimmer of the Year: Jordan Wilimovsky (Team Santa Monica)
- Open Water Excellence Award: Athletes from the World University Games: Taylor Abbott (University of Tennessee), Katy Campbell (Team Santa Monica), David Heron (University of Tennessee) and Becca Mann (Trojan Swim Club)
- Adolph Kiefer Safety Commendation Award: Priscilla Davis
- Trischa L. Zorn Award: Aspen Shelton (Fort Worth Area Swim Team)
- James Raymond “Jimi” Flowers Disability Coach of the Year: Nathan Manley (Paralympic Resident Team)
- Outstanding Disability Service Award: Stuart Zook (Mach 3 Flyers)
- Make a Splash Hero Award: Fort Worth Drowning Prevention Coalition
- Safe Sport Impact Award: John Morse
- Diversity Inclusion Award: Miriam Lynch (Nation's Capital Swim Club)
- Kenneth J. Pettigrew Award: Dick and Lucy Duncan (Indiana Swimming)
- Developmental Coach of the Year: Ron Aitken (Sandpipers of Nevada)
- Athletes’ Appreciation Award: Chuck Wielgus
- Phillips 66 Performance of the Year Award: Lilly King (Indiana University), 100m Breaststroke, FINA World Championships
- USA Swimming Athlete of the Year: Caeleb Dressel (Bolles School Sharks/Florida)
- USA Swimming Award: Chuck Wielgus