By USA Swimming | Thursday, September 28, 2017
This award is given to the athlete whose performance(s) stand out in relation to other years, with special emphasis on the 2017 FINA World Championships.
Breakout Performer of the Year
In her long-course international debut, Mallory Comerford was a standout for Team USA at the 2017 FINA World Championships with five relay gold medals – 4x100m medley, 4x100m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle, mixed 4x100m medley and mixed 4x100m freestyle. She also briefly held the American record in the 100m free in Budapest with a leadoff split of 52.59 in the 4x100m free relay. The University of Louisville star won the 100m free title at the 2017 Phillips 66 National Championships and earlier in the year tied Katie Ledecky for the NCAA title in the 200y free.
Madisyn Cox made the most of her FINA World Championships debut, surging to bronze in the 200m individual medley and earning gold as a member of the 4x200m freestyle relay in Budapest. After qualifying sixth in the 200m IM semifinals, Cox climbed from fifth at the 150-meter mark over the freestyle leg to touch in 2:09.71 and claim the bronze medal. At the 2017 Phillips 66 National Championships, Cox placed second in the 200m IM and she was third in the 200y and 400y IM at the 2017 NCAA Championships as a Texas senior.
After just missing a spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team in two events, Bethany Galat had a stellar long-course international debut in 2017. At the FINA World Championships, the Texas A&M standout surged from sixth at the 150m mark to earn silver in the 200m breaststroke in a lifetime best of 2:21.77. Earlier in the year, she was second at the 2017 Phillips 66 National Championships in the 200m breast and posted a pair of top-five finishes for the Aggies at the 2017 NCAA Championships.
A 2016 U.S. Olympian, Townley Haas built on his Rio experience and raced his way to five medals at the 2017 FINA World Championships. Individually, Haas claimed silver in the 200m freestyle in 1:45.04. The Texas standout added four relay medals in Budapest – gold in the 4x100m free, 4x100m medley and mixed 4x100m free; and bronze in the 4x200m free. Haas won the 200m free title at the 2017 Phillips 66 National Championships and the 200y free title at the 2017 NCAA Championships.
This award is given to the athlete who came back from adversity, retirement, sickness, injury, etc., to have an outstanding performance(s) in 2017, with special emphasis on the 2017 FINA World Championships.
Following a runner-up finish in the 400m individual medley at the 2017 Phillips 66 National Championships, Elizabeth Beisel was bound for the FINA World Championships for the sixth straight time. She actually touched third in the race, but claimed the second-place finish – and a trip to Budapest – following a disqualification. Beisel, who has qualified for 12 straight major long-course international events for Team USA since 2006, made the most of the situation by providing immeasurable leadership at the FINA World Championships and helping lead the U.S. to a record 38 medals in the pool. In her lone event, Beisel was seventh in the 400m IM, but the co-captain’s impact was felt well beyond her swims.
The 2012 Olympic champion in the 100-meter backstroke, Matt Grevers just missed a return trip to the Olympic Games in 2016 with a heartbreaking third-place finish in the event at Olympic Trials. The 32-year-old was determined to bounce back in a big way in 2017. And he did just that, winning the U.S. title in the 100m backstroke at the Phillips 66 National Championships to earn a return to the international stage. In Budapest, Grevers – a team co-captain – won four medals: silver in the 100m back, bronze in the 50m back and gold in the 4x100m medley relay and mixed 4x100m medley relay.
Slowed by a shoulder injury in recent years, Ashley Twichell returned to form in 2017 and was a double-medalist at the 2017 FINA World Championships in open-water events. After a 10th-place finish in the women’s 10K at Lake Balaton, Twichell rebounded for gold in the women’s 5K and helped the U.S. to silver in the new mixed 5K team relay for her first FINA World Championships medals since 2011. Earlier in the year, Twichell secured her spot at Worlds with a convincing victory in the 10K and as the No. 2 American in the 5K at USA Swimming Open Water Nationals.
This award is given to the coach whose athlete(s) performed at the highest level throughout the year, with special emphasis on the 2017 FINA World Championships.
Longtime University of Georgia head coach Jack Bauerle mentored seven swimmers to a place on the Team USA roster at the 2017 FINA World Championships – Pace Clark, Hali Flickinger, Nic Fink, Chase Kalisz, Jay Litherland, Melanie Margalis and Olivia Smoliga. This group collected seven total medals led by a gold-medal sweep of the 200m and 400m individual medley events by Chase Kalisz. At the 2017 NCAA Championships, Bauerle coached the Georgia women to a fourth-place finish and the men to an eighth-place showing. He was a men’s assistant coach for the United States at the FINA World Championships.
Ray Looze coached four swimmers to spots on the U.S. roster at the FINA World Championships and all earned a spot on the podium. Lilly King led the way with four gold medals, as well as world-record performances in the 50m and 100m breaststroke events. Blake Pieroni, Zane Grothe and Cody Miller combined to earn five relay medals in Budapest. A women’s assistant coach for the FINA World Championships, Looze was named the 2017 ASCA Coach of the Year. He also led Indiana to top-eight finishes at the men’s and women’s NCAA Championships in 2017.
The Team USA women’s head coach for the FINA World Championships, Greg Meehan guided his Stanford swimmers to 14 medals – 12 of them gold – in Budapest. Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel each won six medals to lead all female competitors at the meet. Individually, Ledecky won her third straight world titles in the 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle, while Manuel won gold in the 100m free and bronze in 50m free and set American records in both events. Lia Neal added a pair of relay gold medals. On the collegiate front, Meehan’s Cardinal squad won the 2017 women’s NCAA title.
University of Florida head coach Gregg Troy guided Caeleb Dressel to record-setting heights in 2017. At the FINA World Championships, Dressel joined Michael Phelps as the only swimmers to win seven gold medals at a single world championships. Individually, Dressel won gold in the 50m and 100m freestyle and 100m butterfly and set a trio of American records in Budapest. A men’s assistant coach for Team USA in Budapest, Troy also coached the Dressel-led Gators to a third-place finish at the men’s 2017 NCAA Championships. He is a two-time Golden Goggle Award winner as Coach of the Year.
Relay Performance of the Year
This award is given to the best team relay performance, male or female. The performance considered must be a finals performance, with special emphasis on the 2017 FINA World Championships.
Women’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay, 2017 FINA World Championships
Simone Manuel anchored the Team USA women’s 4x100m freestyle relay to gold and an American record with a time of 3:31.72, out-touching runner-up Australia. Mallory Comerford led things off with an American record, but the U.S. was in second place as Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom broke the world record on her leadoff leg. Kelsi Worrell and Katie Ledecky worked to give the U.S. a slight edge, before Manuel secured the title with a powerful final 10 meters on the anchor. The victory marked the American women’s first gold in this event since 2013 and just their second in 14 years.
Men’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay, 2017 FINA World Championships
Caeleb Dressel led off with an American record in the 100m freestyle to pave the way for teammates Townley Haas, Blake Pieroni and Nathan Adrian to hold off second-place Brazil by 28-hundreths of a second for gold in the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay in 3:10.06. The Americans led wire-to-wire to claim their first victory in the event at the FINA World Championships since 2009.
Women’s 4x100m Medley Relay, 2017 FINA World Championships
The U.S. women’s 4x100m medley relay line-up of Kathleen Baker, Lilly King, Kelsi Worrell and Simone Manuel won gold in 3:51.55, setting a world record and finishing nearly 2 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Russia. After a close first two legs of the race, Worrell gave Team USA a lead that Manuel would not relinquish. The victory marked the third-straight gold medal for the U.S. women at the FINA World Championships in this event. The previous world record in the event was set by the U.S. at the 2012 Olympic Games.
Mixed 4x100m Freestyle Relay, 2017 FINA World Championships
Team USA set a world record in the mixed 4x100m free relay in 3:19.60, breaking its 2015 mark by nearly 3.5 seconds in Budapest. With a star-studded lineup of Caeleb Dressel, Nathan Adrian, Mallory Comerford and Simone Manuel, the U.S. led the race from start to finish to earn its second-straight world title in the event.
Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay, 2017 FINA World Championships
After a strong leadoff in the mixed 4x100m medley relay from backstroker Matt Grevers, Lilly King entered the water as the only female in the field swimming the breaststroke leg of the race. In his third race of the night, Caeleb Dressel regained the lead for Team USA on the butterfly leg. Simone Manuel closed out another victory for the U.S. in a world-record time of 3:38.56, more than 2.5 seconds faster than second-place Australia.
This award is given to the female swimmer with the greatest single individual race of the year, with special emphasis on the 2017 FINA World Championships.
Female Race of the Year
Lilly King, 50m Breaststroke, 2017 FINA World Championships
Lilly King continued her first FINA World Championships in dominant fashion with a victory in the women’s 50m breaststroke in a world-record time of 29.40. The swim eclipsed Yulia Efimova’s previous world record set in 2013 and marked King’s third of four gold medals captured in Budapest.
Lilly King, 100m Breaststroke, 2017 FINA World Championships
In the highly anticipated women’s 100m breaststroke final at the 2017 FINA World Championships, Lilly King delivered. She jumped out to a quick lead off the blocks, led by more than half a second at the turn and held off the rest of the field over the final 50 meters to touch in a world record time of 1:04.13 – nearly a second clear of silver medalist teammate Katie Meili. King’s effort took more than two-tenths of a second off the 4-year-old world record.
Katie Ledecky, 400m Freestyle, 2017 FINA World Championships
On the first night of the competition, Katie Ledecky won her third-straight world championships title in the women’s 400m freestyle in a dominant 3:58.34, good for the second-fastest time in history. In typical Ledecky fashion, she took the lead off the blocks and never relinquished it, touching more than 3 seconds clear of the field. The gold medal was the 10th of Ledecky’s world championships career, and she would finish the meet with a women’s record of 14 career world titles.
Simone Manuel, 100m Freestyle, 2017 FINA World Championships
Simone Manuel surged past Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom in the final 10 meters of the race to earn FINA World Championships gold in the women’s 100m freestyle over the newly minted world-record holder. After turning in third position, Manuel closed quickly over the final 50 to touch with a time of 52.27, an American record. Manuel became the first American to win a medal in this event at the FINA World Championships since 2005 and first to win gold since 1998.
Ashley Twitchell, 5K Open Water, 2017 FINA World Championships
Ashley Twichell stuck with the lead pack early in the women’s 5-kilometer open water race. She made a move past France’s Aurelie Muller with about 700 meters to go and never gave up the lead to win gold in 59:07.0 – 3 seconds ahead of Muller. With the win, Twichell became the first American woman to win three career FINA World Championships medals in open water swimming.
Male Race of the Year
This award is given to the male swimmer with the greatest single individual race of the year, with special emphasis on the 2017 FINA World Championships.
Caeleb Dressel, 100m Freestyle, 2017 FINA World Championships
Caeleb Dressel took home FINA World Championships gold in the men’s 100m freestyle with an American-record effort of 47.17. Dressel led by more than two-tenths of a second at the 50-meter mark and he extended that advantage over the final 50 meters for the win over teammate and silver medalist Nathan Adrian. Dressel’s victory marked the first time an American won the 100m free at a world championships since Anthony Ervin in 2001.
Caeleb Dressel, 100m Butterfly, 2017 FINA World Championships
Caeleb Dressel led wire-to-wire to earn gold and become the second-fastest performer of all-time in the men’s 100m butterfly at the 2017 FINA World Championships. He touched in a time of 49.86 – just four-hundredths of a second off Michael Phelps’ world record – for the fastest textile time in history. The win marked his second gold medal of the night, as he became the first swimmer in the history of the World Championships or Olympic Games to win three world titles in a single session.
Chase Kalisz, 400m Individual Medley, 2017 FINA World Championships
In the men’s 400m individual medley, Chase Kalisz completed his very own gold-medal sweep of the men’s IM events in Budapest. After holding a slight lead after the butterfly leg, Kalisz turned even with Great Britain’s Max Litchfield at the wall at the 200m mark. In the second half of the race, Kalisz was impossible to catch. He won by more than two body lengths, eclipsing Michael Phelps’ championship record with a time of 4:05.90. With this swim, Kalisz became the third-fastest performer of all time, trailing only Phelps and Ryan Lochte.
Female Athlete of the Year
This award is given to the top female swimmer of the year with special emphasis on achievements at the 2017 FINA World Championships.
Lilly King had her sights set on world-record swims in Budapest and she delivered. The Indiana University star won gold and surpassed world records in the 50m and 100m breaststrokes with times of 29.40 and 1:04.13, respectively. King added gold in the 4x100m medley relay and 4x100m mixed medley relay for a total of four gold medals at the 2017 FINA World Championships. Earlier in 2017, King defended her NCAA titles in the 100y and 200y breast.
Katie Ledecky continued her unprecedented run of international success in Budapest by winning six medals – five gold – and claiming her third straight world titles in the 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle. Her 3:58.34 effort in the 400m free was a meet record and ranks as the second-fastest time in history. Ledecky added gold in the 4x100m and 4x200m free relays, as well as a second straight FINA World Championships medal (silver) in the 200m free. The Stanford standout now owns a women’s record 14 career gold medals in FINA World Championships action, including 10 individual world titles – more than any other woman. Earlier in 2017, Ledecky won five NCAA titles, posted nine American-record performances and 12 NCAA-record swims in her first year at Stanford.
Olympic champion Simone Manuel picked up where she left off last summer with six medals, including gold in the 100m freestyle, at the 2017 FINA World Championships. In the process, she established American records in her 100m free victory (52.27) and her bronze-medal finish in the 50m free (23.97). In addition, Manuel anchored Team USA to gold in in four relays – 4x100m free, 4x100m medley, mixed 4x100m free and mixed 4x100m medley – to join teammate Katie Ledecky as the only women to win six medals in Budapest. Earlier in the year, Manuel won NCAA titles in the 50y and 100y free for national champion Stanford.
Male Athlete of the Year
This award is given to the top male swimmer of the year with special emphasis on achievements at the 2017 FINA World Championships.
Caeleb Dressel had a FINA World Championships for the ages, as he joined Michael Phelps as the only swimmers to win seven titles at a single FINA World Championships. He won individual gold in the 50m 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 set American records in the 50m free, 100m free and 50m fly in Budapest. On June 29, Dressel became the first swimmer in history to win three world titles in a single day on with gold in the 50m freestyle, 100m butterfly and mixed 4x100m freestyle relay. He also won gold in the 4x100m medley relay, 4x100m freestyle relay and mixed 4x100m medley relay in Budapest. At the 2017 NCAA Championships, Dressel won titles in the 50y free, 100y free and 100y butterfly for Florida.
Chase Kalisz won his first career international gold medals in impressive fashion, taking the 200m and 400m individual medley titles in Budapest to become the first swimmer since Ryan Lochte in 2011 to sweep both races at the FINA World Championships. On July 27, Kalisz made his move on the back half of the 200m IM to earn gold in a personal-best 1:55.56. He followed July 30 with gold in the 400m IM in another personal-best of 4:05.90, a time that topped Michael Phelps’ meet record and bested the field by 2 seconds. Earlier in 2017, Kalisz won the NCAA title in the 400y IM for Georgia.