Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky took top honors as the Male and Female Athlete of the Year for the second and third consecutive year, respectively, at the 2015 Golden Goggle Awards hosted by USA Swimming.
Ledecky’s World Championship efforts also earned her the Female Race of the Year (for the 200m freestyle, though her 800m and 1500m were nominated). She was also part of the Relay of the Year, alongside Missy Franklin, Leah Smith, and Katie McLaughlin.
In the acceptance speech, Franklin likened the relay squad to a sandwich: the sturdy end bread pieces were herself and Ledecky, while the peanut butter and jelly were Smith and McLaughlin. “This is our jam,” Ledecky laughed, noting the history of the women’s 4×200 freestyle relay at Worlds. The 2015 group earned the U.S.’ third straight victory.
Ledecky’s coach, Bruce Gemmell, was named Coach of the Year for the third consecutive year.
Father-to-be Phelps was named Male Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive year due to his dominant performance at the 2015 U.S. Nationals. There, he posted the top times in the world in three events – the 200m IM, 100m fly and 200m fly. Both his butterfly events were the fastest he’s been since 2009, and the 200m IM time was the fastest he’s been since the London 2012 Olympics.
Phelps listed Perseverance Award winner Allison Schmitt, his mother and sisters, and other people who “know who they are,” among those he was thankful for. He said he wasn’t sure if he would be alive today if they hadn’t stood by him.
“If me speaking out saves just one life, then I know it was worth it,” Schmitt said, as the audience rose to their feet to give her a standing ovation. After her own battle with depression, Schmitt wants to play a role in destigmatizing mental health and getting athletes help if they need it.
Jordan Wilimovsky, so far only one of two confirmed Rio Olympic team members, picked up two awards: Breakout Performer of the Year and Male Race of the Year.
Casey Wasserman, LA 2024 Olympic bid chairman, presented Wilimovsky with his Male Race of the Year award. Of a Los Angeles-hosted Olympic bid, Wasserman simply said, “we think it’s time.”
“Workaholics” actor Anders Holm hosted the event in Los Angeles. Singer Andra Day was the musical guest.
Franklin and Ryan Lochte will headline the U.S. contingent next at Duel in the Pool, a Ryder Cup-style meet against a European all-star team held December 11-12 in Indianapolis. NBC will air coverage Dec. 19 from 4-6 p.m. ET. The European roster is lead by Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu and Laszlo Cseh. The U.S. is 3-0 against the European team, though the most recent edition of the event in 2013 came down to a tiebreaking mixed medley relay.
2015 USA Swimming Golden Goggle award winners:
Female Athlete of the Year: Katie Ledecky
Male Athlete of the Year: Michael Phelps
Female Race of the Year: Katie Ledecky, 200m freestyle (2015 World Championships)
Male Race of the Year: Jordan Wilimovsky, 10K (2015 World Championships)
Relay Performance of the Year: Women’s 4×200 freestyle relay (Missy Franklin, Katie McLaughlin, Leah Smith, Katie Ledecky – 2015 World Chamionships)
Coach of the Year: Bruce Gemmell
Breakout Performer of the Year: Jordan Wilimovsky
Perseverance Award: Allison Schmitt