By USA Swimming Foundation | Wednesday, December 5, 2018
NEW YORK - Olympic champions and world-record holders Katie Ledecky (Bethesda, Md./Nation’s Capital Swim Club/Alto Swim Club) and Ryan Murphy (Jacksonville, Fla./California Aquatics), who led Team USA with standout performances at last summer’s Pan Pacific Championships, took home Athlete of the Year honors on Monday at USA Swimming’s annual Golden Goggle Awards.
This year’s event, hosted by actor and comedian John O’Hurley, celebrated the accomplishments of the U.S. team at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships, which claimed 45 medals across pool and open water competition in Tokyo. The evening benefited the USA Swimming Foundation.
Murphy was the night’s big winner and earned three Golden Goggle Awards – Male Athlete of the Year, Male Race of the Year for his 100-meter backstroke victory at Pan Pacs and Relay Performance of the Year as part of the men’s 4x100 medley relay team in Tokyo.
Murphy was a triple gold medalist at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships, winning gold in the 100m and 200m backstroke and the 4x100m medley relay. He took the 100m back in 51.94, good for the third-fastest swim of all-time and added gold in the 200m back in a lifetime-best 1:53.57. Murphy set Pan Pacs records in both events and was awarded Male Swimmer of the Championships honors. He also swept the 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke titles at the Phillips 66 National Championships.
“I came into tonight totally not expecting that. One of the things that I feel like I’ve done over the years is right after I’ve had accomplishments, I’ve kind of looked to what’s next, so it is a little bit interesting to come back here and be able to take a deep breath while we’re in super hard training and look back on the summer,” Murphy said. “It’s a really good reminder of why we’re training so hard right now and what the benefits can be. It’s really great to come to an event like this and break up the training and see so many great friends.”
Ledecky claimed her record sixth consecutive Female Athlete of the Year honor dating to 2013. She again led the Team USA women at 2018 Pan Pacs with five medals, including repeat gold-medal performances in the 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle events. She added silver in the 4x200m free relay and bronze in the 200m free. Earlier in 2018, Ledecky eclipsed her own world record in the 1500m free at the TYR Pro Swim Series at Indianapolis with a time of 15:20.48, won U.S. titles in the 200m, 400m and 800m free at the 2018 Phillips 66 National Championships and claimed the women’s overall TYR Pro Swim Series title. Prior to joining the professional ranks, Ledecky paced Stanford to a second straight NCAA women’s team title with victories in the 500y and 1650y free.
“It’s a great honor and it’s always so much fun at Golden Goggles to celebrate the success of Team USA for the summer and the USA Swimming Foundation for all that they’ve done to save lives and build champions,” Ledecky said. “It really is a great event that raises a lot for a great cause. It’s a fun to be a part of it and be honored.”
Ledecky’s coach, Greg Meehan, won his second straight Coach of the Year accolade after guiding his student-athletes to the pinnacle of international and collegiate swimming in 2018. He coached five women onto the Team USA roster for the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships – Katie Drabot, Ella Eastin, Brooke Forde, Ledecky and Simone Manuel – combining for 11 medals in Tokyo. Ledecky and Manuel also captured a combined five titles at the 2018 Phillips 66 Nationals ranging from the 50m to 800m freestyle. On the collegiate front, the Cardinal clinched its second straight NCAA women’s title in 2018.
Olympic medalist Kathleen Baker (Winston-Salem, N.C./Team Elite/California Aquatics) was awarded Female Race of the Year honors for her world-record performance in the 100m back at the 2018 Phillips 66 National Championships. She charged off the start and was a more than sixth-tenths of a second under world-record pace at the 50-meter mark. Baker held on over the final 50 and touched in 58.00 – a tenth under the previous mark.
Breakout Performer of the Year honoree Michael Andrew (Lawrence, Kan./Race Pace Club) had a breakthrough senior-level season in 2018. At the 2018 Phillips 66 National Championships, Andrew won national titles and posted lifetime-best swims in the 50m freestyle, 50m and 100m breaststroke and 50m butterfly to become the first male since 2008 to win at least four titles at Nationals or Olympic Trials. In Tokyo at Pan Pacs, Andrew won gold in the 50m free for his first career individual medal at a major long-course, international meet.
Earning the Perseverance Award was 2012 Olympian Micah Sumrall (Pflugerville, Texas/Chattahoochee Gold Swim Club), who bounced back in a big way with a gold-medal performance in the 200m breaststroke at the Pan Pacific Championships. After missing the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team, she took time away from the sport before resurfacing with Chattahoochee Gold Swim Club earlier this year. Buoyed by the support of the age-group swimmers she coaches, Sumrall won the 200m breast title at Phillips 66 Nationals and took third in the 100m breast in Irvine to qualify for her first international roster since 2015. In Tokyo, she nearly matched her career-best time in the 200m breast en route to gold, her first at a major international competition.
Murphy teamed up with Andrew Wilson (Bethesda, Md./Longhorn Aquatics), Caeleb Dressel (Green Cove Springs, Fla./Bolles School Sharks) and Nathan Adrian (Bremerton, Wash./California Aquatics) to win Relay Performance of the Year honors for the men’s 4x100m medley relay at Pan Pacs. Team USA took the gold in 3:30.20 – only five-hundredths ahead of runner-up Japan and just over three-tenths clear of third-place Australia.
2018 USA Swimming Golden Goggle Award Winners:
• Female Athlete of the Year: Katie Ledecky
• Male Athlete of the Year: Ryan Murphy
• Female Race of the Year: Kathleen Baker, 100m Backstroke (2018 Phillips 66 National Championships)
• Male Race of the Year: Ryan Murphy, 100m Backstroke (2018 Pan Pacific Championships)
• Relay Performance of the Year: Men’s 4x100m Medley Relay (2018 Pan Pacific Championships): Ryan Murphy, Andrew Wilson, Caeleb Dressel, Nathan Adrian
• Breakout Performer of the Year: Michael Andrew
• Perseverance Award: Micah Sumrall
• Coach of the Year: Greg Meehan