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Caeleb Dressel recalls summer tears in Golden Goggles speech

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Two weeks before the world championships, Caeleb Dressel was in tears after multiple practices going into the biggest meet of the year.

“Just because how bad I was doing,” Dressel said of his workouts. “I knew the pressure that was coming with it, what I expected of myself. So, it wasn’t an easy year, just the mental doubt I had coming into worlds.”

Four months later, Dressel stood at the podium of Sunday night’s Golden Goggles to receive two major awards — Male Race of the Year and Male Athlete of the Year, each for the second time.

Dressel earned a record eight medals at worlds in Gwangju, South Korea, including six golds and a world record in the 100m butterfly, taking Michael Phelps‘ mark off the books.

He reflected in his acceptance speech for Race of the Year for that 100m fly.

“If I can leave you with something, just don’t ever compare yourself to anyone,” Dressel said. “I’m not in this to beat one person in particular, which a lot of you can guess who I’ve been compared to. It’s not me. I don’t swim the same events. He’s a much better swimmer. I’m not in this to beat anybody’s medal count, records. I just want to see how far I can take this. I’m just a kid from Green Cove [Springs, Fla.] who has no business taking it as far as I have. I just want to see how far I can take it.”

Simone Manuel broke Katie Ledecky‘s six-year streak of winning Female Athlete of the Year. While Ledecky struggled at worlds with illness, her Stanford teammate Manuel earned seven medals, including four golds, and swept the 50m and 100m frees.

“When I first started in swimming, it was pretty difficult for me,” Manuel said. “It still is difficult to this day. But, often times, I didn’t feel like I fit in or it was the sport for me. Often times, people questioned why I was swimming because I’m not supposed to swim. And it’s really difficult. I never thought that I would see the day where I would stand up here and receive this award. What I’ve learned through this journey, even though it’s been very hard, is to follow your passion. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do anything.”

Regan Smith‘s incredible worlds performance — three world records in two races — was rewarded with Female Race of the Year (200m backstroke) and Breakout Performer of the Year.

“Before this summer, I was really just a little kid who had no idea what was going on in swimming,” said the 17-year-old from Minnesota. “I still am, but I feel like after this summer I really have a new perspective.”

Nathan Adrian, who came back from testicular cancer to be part of three relays at worlds, earned the Perseverance Award. He accepted while sporting a mustache for Movember.

“It’s a reminder to men out there, who actually on average live almost eight years less life than women, and one of the contributing factors to that is because they don’t see the doctor when they first notice something is wrong,” Adrian said. “To all you men out there, go see the doctor.”

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Katie Ledecky performs Beatles song at Golden Goggle Awards

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In a skit called “Swimmers’ Got Talent,” Katie Ledecky and Elizabeth Beisel showed that their skills are not confined to the pool.

Ledecky, the five-time Olympic champion, and Beisel, the retired three-time Olympian, performed a duet at USA Swimming’s Golden Goggle Awards in New York City on Monday night.

In a reprisal of their pre-Rio Olympic team camp exercise, Ledecky played The Beatles’ “Let It Be” on the piano, plus sang. Beisel accompanied on the violin.

“I was probably a little pitchy, I’m sorry about that,” Ledecky said after the song and before she won a sixth straight Female Swimmer of the Year award.

Beisel, who has played the violin since age 3, said it was “more nerve-racking than the Olympics” to play in front of several hundred people from the swim community at a midtown Manhattan hotel ballroom.

“I took piano lessons as a child, but I have not been able to keep up with it and I am not as proficient as I would like,” Ledecky said before the Rio Games.

Ledecky has played the piano since age 8 or 9, but she phased out of lessons in the eighth grade to prioritize swimming, according to The New York Times.

Even so, as of spring 2016, she could “bang out a respectable version of ‘Hey Jude’ or ‘Viva la Vida’ on the baby grand piano in the living room,” according to Sports Illustrated.

Golden Goggles Award Winners
Female Swimmer of the Year: Katie Ledecky
Male Swimmer of the Year: Ryan Murphy
Female Race of the Year: Kathleen Baker, 100m Backstroke world record, U.S. Championships
Male Race of the Year: Ryan Murphy, 100m Backstroke, Pan Pacific Championships
Relay of the Year: Pan Pacific Championships Men’s Medley
Breakout Swimmer of the Year: Michael Andrew
Perseverance Award: Micah Sumrall
Coach of the Year: Greg Meehan

MORE: Ledecky preps for new Olympic challenges in new suit

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Kobe Bryant tries to coax Michael Phelps to unretire (video)

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Not even Kobe Bryant could entice Michael Phelps to get back in the competition pool.

Bryant, a two-time Olympic champion, egged on Phelps while presenting the female athlete of the year award at USA Swimming’s Golden Goggles Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday night.

“Since it never gets old, would you like, just one more time?” Bryant told Phelps on stage (at 68:20 mark here). “Not me. You. You’re in much better shape than I am, dude. You can do it one more time.”

Phelps, as he has done for the last year, dismissed it.

“I’d rather be sitting in the stands during the next one and watching all of you,” Phelps said to the crowd, many of whom were active swimmers.

“All right, then I can save you a seat,” Bryant responded. “Just let me wear one of those medals.

“I got distracted by the gold medals, man. I’m wondering how he puts 28 [Olympic medals] on. I have no idea how that works. It’s crazy to me.”

The retired Lakers star got a first-hand look at an in-his-prime Phelps as a spectator at the 2008 Olympic swimming venue, the Water Cube.

“After seeing my first race in Beijing, I was hooked,” Bryant said.

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