PHOENIX, Arizona, April 16. THIS evening, Olympic superstar Missy Franklin became the first swimmer since 2006 to capture the prestigious Amateur Athletic Union Sullivan Award.
Franklin, who collected four golds and one bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics, was the only aquatic sports athlete to make it to the finalist round, and earned the award as the top amateur athlete of the year.
The most recent aquatic sports athlete to win the award was Paralympian Jessica Long in 2006, and before that Michael Phelps, the Greatest Olympian of All Time, claimed the honor in 2003. At that time, it had been more than a decade since a swimmer won the award with Janet Evans taking home the statue in 1989.
The other finalists this year were junior world champion weightlifter Darren Barnes and University of Oregon multi-sport athlete Liz Brenner (volleyball, basketball, softball).
The finalists were whittled down from 15 semifinalists. Public voting, as well as votes by various sport federations and collegiate athletic staff, helped determine this year's finalists.
List of aquatic sports Sullivan Award winners:
1944: Ann Curtis (swimming)
1953: Sammy Lee (diving)
1956: Pat McCormick (diving)
1964: Don Schollander (swimming)
1968: Debbie Meyer (swimming)
1970: John Kinsella (swimming)
1971: Mark Spitz (swimming)
1975: Tim Shaw (swimming)
1977: John Naber (swimming)
1978: Tracy Caulkins (swimming)
1989: Janet Evans (swimming)
2003: Michael Phelps (swimming)
2006: Jessica Long (swimming)
2012: Missy Franklin (swimming)