LOS ANGELES (AP) — Katie Ledecky and Caeleb Dressel won athlete of the year honors at the Golden Goggle Awards on Sunday night, recognizing the year’s top performances by USA Swimming.
Ledecky won for the fifth consecutive year. She received her trophy from a couple of bearded retirees: Michael Phelps and Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant.
Ledecky earned five gold medals and a silver at the world championships in Budapest in July.
“My very first goal was to make friends in the sport,” Ledecky said. “I want to thank all my friends in this room for being there for me and making me love this sport.”
Bryant tried to egg Phelps into reconsidering retirement. But Phelps was having none of it.
“I’d rather be sitting in the stands during the next one watching all of you,” he told the audience.
Dressel joined Phelps as the only swimmers to win seven golds at a single world championships in Budapest. It was the first time in 11 years that either Phelps or Ryan Lochte didn’t win male athlete of the year at the event.
“I want to continue to learn and progress,” Dressel said.
Dressel also won for male race of the year for his world 100m butterfly title, missing Phelps’ world record from 2009 by .04.
Lilly King won for female race of the year, notching a 100m breaststroke world record and finishing nearly a second ahead of teammate Katie Meili. It was King’s first world title and first world record.
Mallory Comerford earned the trophy for breakout performer. In her international long-course debut, she earned five relay gold medals.
The perseverance award went to 32-year-old backstroker Matt Grevers.
The 2012 Olympic 100m back champion just missed earning a spot at the Rio Games with a third-place finish at trials. He bounced back in a big way, winning four medals in Budapest, including silver in the 100m back and two relay golds.
Greg Meehan of Stanford, who guided the U.S. women’s team in Budapest, was honored as coach of the year.
The women’s 4x100m medley relay earned relay performance of the year.
Kathleen Baker, King, Kelsi Worrell and Simone Manuel set a world record of 3 minutes, 51.55 seconds while finishing nearly two seconds ahead of second-place Russia.
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