GREENSBORO, North Carolina, September 19. THE king of the backstroke, Aaron Peirsol was honored over the weekend as the USA Swimming Athlete of the Year. The award was presented during the United States Aquatic Sports Convention, held from September 13-18 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Peirsol was one of a number of individuals honored, but took home the biggest award.
A three-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time Olympian, Peirsol enjoyed a sensational 2005 season, highlighted by three gold medals at the World Championships in Montreal. There, Peirsol won the 100 and 200 backstroke events and led off the United States’ victorious 400 medley relay. Peirsol’s 200 back triumph arrived in world-record time.
“This is a pleasant surprise,” Peirsol said. “I guess I was the one who didn’t think I’d win this award. There were tons of great swims this year – (Ian) Crocker’s 100 fly, and Brendan (Hansen) in the breaststrokes. And Michael (Phelps) still swam eight events and won six medals. How often does one person get six medals at a World Championships? The way I look at it, not to downplay my accomplishments, but people break world records every year. So to win this award this year, I am completely humbled and very happy.”
Earlier in the year, Peirsol dazzled at the U.S. World Champs Trials by breaking his world record in the 100 back. From that point forward, there was no letup. With his success at the World Championships, Peirsol raised his career total to titles. In winning the USA Swimmer of the Year Award, Peirsol defeated Michael Phelps, Brendan Hansen, Ian Crocker, Kate Ziegler and Katie Hoff.
Crocker received the ConocoPhillips Performance of the Year Award for his world-record swim in the 100 butterfly at the World Champs. Crocker sizzled north of the border, clocking in at 50.40. It was Crocker’s second consecutive global title in the event. Meanwhile, Eddie Reese was handed the ASCA Coach Award, not surprising since the head man at the University of Texas and Longhorn Aquatics has molded the careers of Peirsol, Hansen and Crocker, among countless others.
Other honors went to:
Developmental Coach of the Year Award: Jay Benner
Athletes Appreciation Award: Jon Urbanchek
USA Swimming Award: Mark Schubert
Open Water Committee Award: Sara McLarty
Glenn S. Hummer Award: 2005 Open Water World Championship Team Staff
Open Water Swimmer of the Year: Chip Peterson
Disabled Swimming Service Award: Don Watkinds
Adapted Swimmer of the Year Award: Erin Popovich
Kenneth J. Pettigrew Award: Jamy Pfister