USA Swimming News

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Annual Awards Presented at USA Swimming Workshop presented by LiveBarn


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – As part of its annual Workshop presented by LiveBarn, USA Swimming presented numerous awards during the USA Swimming Awards Luncheon. The National Governing Body hosted more than 500 athletes, coaches, officials, board members and local swimming committee volunteers for this special afternoon of recognizing those who have tirelessly worked to propel the sport.

Established in 1981, the USA Swimming Award honors exceptional contributions – financial, material or service – to the sport of swimming and to the USA Swimming organization. Selected by past winners, this award is the most prestigious to be given to those who work behind the scenes to support our members. Long time employee and former USA Swimming Chief Operating Officer Mike Unger was this year’s awardee.

“The USA Swimming Award is the highest honor in our sport, and there is no one more deserving of this award than Mike Unger. Mike spent nearly three decades as a devoted employee of USA Swimming, and he now continues to serve at the apex of the sport in his position with World Aquatics. He has such a passion for swimming and those who participate in it; we have all benefitted in some way from Mike’s hard work. Our gratitude is limitless for Mike Unger, the recipient of this year’s USA Swimming Award.” – Lindsay Mintenko, USA Swimming, Managing Director, National Team 

Russ Meyer and Marcy Shafer were presented with the USA Swimming Foundation Impact Award, honoring those who exemplify the mission of the USA Swimming Foundation to Save Lives, Build Champions and Impact Communities. The recipient of this award is praised for bringing awareness to water safety education, promoting learn-to-swim opportunities, increasing access and opportunities for all to enjoy the sport and promoting excellence by supporting National Team success.

“Russ Meyer and Marcy Shafer are established philanthropists and active participants in their community. Their support of the USA Swimming Foundation has impacted the growth and sustainability of the Open Water National Team in critical ways.” – Elaine Calip, USA Swimming Foundation, Senior Director of Development

Ron Aitken, head coach and CEO of the Sandpipers of Nevada, was presented with the Open Water Achievement Award, given to a person or group making the greatest contribution to open water swimming since 1978. The Open Water Committee selects the winner.

“At our 2022 Open Water Championships, the Sandpipers of Nevada qualified four athletes to the 2022 Open Water World Junior Team, which was 25% of the overall team roster. At the 2022 World Championships, Ron helped guide Katie Grimes to a fifth-place finish in the 10K at her first Worlds competition, which was the second-best 10K Worlds finish in U.S. history.” – Bryce Elser, USA Swimming, Director, National Team Open Water

Ron Aitken was also named the Developmental Coach of the Year, presented to the coach who put the most athletes under the age of 18 on the National Junior Team and National Team in both pool and open water. The honoree is selected by the Age Group Development Committee.

“At the 2022 World Championships, Ron coached three 18 and under athletes to two gold medals and two silver medals. Ron also placed three athletes on our 2022 World Juniors Open Water Team that won a combined four gold medals. Coach Aitken has shown throughout his career that he is one of the very best developers of talent in our sport, and we are looking forward to him continuing that for years to come.” – Erik Posegay, USA Swimming, Program Director, National Junior Team

Michelle Steinfeld, USA Swimming’s Secretary and General Counsel, was presented with the Athletes Appreciation Award, recognizing the individual who has made significant contributions to the Athletes Movement. Established in 1983, the honoree is selected by the Athletes’ Executive Committee (AEC).

“Michelle Steinfeld has gone above and beyond with her contributions; her care, compassion and unwavering willingness to help support the AEC and the Athletes Movement is truly commendable. Her support with legislation, projects, ideas and more have all made a significant difference. We truly could not be more appreciative.” – Marco Greico, Athletes’ Executive Committee, Leadership Chair

Jackie Allender was honored with the Pettigrew Award, presented to an individual who demonstrates excellence in officiating. Created to honor Ken Pettigrew, an official who devoted more than 30 years to swimming, the winner is selected by the Officials Committee.

“When one thinks of leadership styles, rarely is the phrase ‘humble servant’ used. But this is exactly the role taken by Jackie Allender. She is always concerned for the safety of others, often ahead of her own, for both athletes and volunteers. You can always count on her to be honorable.” – Matt Wilson and Kathleen Scandary, USA Swimming Officials

Trish Martin was presented with the Safe Sport Impact Award, recognizing significant achievements and contributions to the Safe Sport Committee’s mission to safeguard all members of USA Swimming from sexual, psychological, emotional and physical abuse. Established in 2014, the recipient is selected by the Safe Sport Committee.

“Trish has supported the Safe Sport initiative from its inception. She has many accolades, including selection to officiate at the Olympic Games and serving as the LSC Safe Sport Chair and General Chair for North Carolina Swimming. Trish brings poise, confidence and integrity to everything that she does. She is a friend and a Safe Sport champion.” – Elizabeth Hahn, USA Swimming, Program Director, Safe Sport

Annie Norris was presented with the Athletes Distinguished Service Award, recognizing an Athlete Representative or Athlete Committee Member who has made an impact on the sport. Established in 2017, the honoree is selected by the AEC.

“Annie Norris has always been an integral part of the Athletes' Executive Committee; any national athlete programming from the AEC was guided by Annie. Although she has moved on from being an athlete representative, the foundation she has set and the impact she had will have an impact on our sport for years to come.” – Matthew Rigsbee, Athletes’ Executive Committee

Emmaus Aquatic Club was presented with the Adolph Kiefer Safety Commendation Award, recognizing an individual or organization demonstrating outstanding commitment to aquatic safety. Established in 1990, the honoree is selected by the Operational Risk Committee.

“Emmaus Aquatic Club is showing the community to truly embrace the spirit of the Adolph Kiefer Award. The community is touched by this program and supports USA Swimming’s mission to save lives and promote our sport. There is no better example of one of our clubs reaching out into the community than what EMAC has accomplished.” – Mike Seip, Middle Atlantic Swimming, Director of Competition

Award winners were celebrated at the luncheon that was sponsored by the USA Swimming Foundation. To support the mission of the USA Swimming Foundation, donations can be made here.

Keep up with all the latest USA Swimming news by following @usaswimming on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Check out our News Notebook which details programs, athletes and clubs that have made the headlines. 

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