Dressel, Ledecky win athletes of year at Golden Goggles
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Caeleb Dressel and Katie Ledecky won male and female athlete of the year honors at the Golden Goggle Awards on Sunday night, recognizing the year’s top performances by USA Swimming.
Dressel joined Michael Phelps as the only swimmers to win seven golds at a single world championships last summer in Hungary. It was the first time in 11 years that either Phelps or Ryan Lochte didn’t win the top honor.
“I want to continue to learn and progress,” Dressel said.
Ledecky won for the fifth consecutive year. She received her trophy from a couple of bearded retirees: Phelps and Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant. Ledecky earned five gold medals and a silver at worlds.
“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 also won for male race of the year. He led all the way to earn gold in the 100-meter butterfly in Budapest.
Lilly King won for female race of the year, notching a world record in the 100-breaststroke and finishing nearly a second ahead of teammate Katie Meili. It was King’s first world title and first world mark in her career.
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 champion in the 100 back just missed earning a spot at last year’s Rio Games with a third-place finish at the U.S. trials. He bounced back in a big way, winning four medals in Budapest, including silver in the 100 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 4x100 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 2 seconds ahead of second-place Russia.