NEW YORK, November 15. HOOK’EM Horns was the theme Monday night as the Golden Goggle Awards were held at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. The event, produced by USA Swimming, recognized the finest swimming achievements in the country during the 2005 season. More than 600 guests attended the second edition of the affair.
While Katie Hoff claimed a pair of honors on the female side, a quartet of University of Texas-linked individuals took home awards. Aaron Peirsol, Brendan Hansen and Ian Crocker, all former NCAA champions at Texas, were lauded for their achievements in the pool while their coach, Eddie Reese, was honored for his expertise in molding their careers.
Named the USA Swimming Athlete of the Year at the U.S. Aquatic Sports Convention in September, Peirsol was selected as Male Athlete of the Year at the Golden Goggles after winning gold medals in the 100 and 200 backstrokes at the World Championships in Montreal. Peirsol also set a pair of world records during the year, breaking the 100 back mark in April and the 200 mark at the World Champs. He also earned gold in the 400 medley relay at the World Championships.
“This is very, very humbling. I don’t know if you guys can understand,” Peirsol said. “I mean, there’s a guy (Crocker) who nearly broke 50 seconds in the 100 butterfly this year. That doesn’t happy very often, even in freestyle. He’s actually faster than me in freestyle. And how often does anyone (Michael Phelps) actually win six medals in any World Championships or in any National meet, period?
“So I’m very humbled. Congratulations Brendan. Congratulations Ian. Congratulations Eddie. This is certainly a wonderful event. You all deserve this quite a bit, let’s keep it up. Rock and roll.”
Katie Hoff, the teenage phenom from the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, was named Female Athlete of the Year after securing three gold medals at the World Championships. Hoff won the 200 and 400 individual medley events, setting an American record in the 200 distance, and also helped the 800 free relay to gold. That unit was named Relay of the Year and also featured Natalie Coughlin, Kaitlin Sandeno and Whitney Myers.
“Thank you so much,” Hoff said. “This award means so much to me, especially against two amazing athletes. I don’t think I could have had the year I did without my coach, Paul (Yetter) pushing me everyday and always believing in me. And my parents, who have always been there for me during the good and bad times. I thank them so much.”
In addition to Peirsol’s Male Athlete of the Year nod, Texas corralled three awards due to the excellence of Hansen, Crocker and Reese. Hansen picked up the Perseverance Award for his performances in the breaststroke events during the year. A silver and bronze medalist in individual events at the Athens Olympics in 2004, Hansen came back and won double gold at the World Championships in Montreal. In the process, he defeated his rival, Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima, in the 100 breast. Hansen won that race with the second-fastest time in history, a 59.37 that trails only his world record of 59.30.
Crocker won for Male Performance of the Year, the result of his gold-medal winning swim in the 100 butterfly at the World Champs. Crocker obliterated the field en route to a time of 50.40, easily under his former world record. As for Reese, he won Coach of the Year for the second consecutive year. The head man at the University of Texas and Longhorn Aquatics, Reese coached seven athletes onto the U.S. World Championship squad and guided his athletes to five individual gold medals and one silver medal.
The other two awards on the night went to a pair of female youngsters, Jessica Hardy and Kate Ziegler. Hardy won in the category of Breakout Performer of the Year as she set a world record of 1:06.20 in the 100 breaststroke during the World Champs semifinals. She wound up winning silver in the final. Ziegler, meanwhile, won Female Performance of the Year for her gold-medal outing in the 1,500 free at the World Champs.