2021 Golden Goggle Award Winners: Katie Ledecky, Caeleb Dressel Named Athletes of the Year

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2021 Golden Goggles Award Winners and Nominees

The 2021 Golden Goggle Awards showcased many of the “golden” accomplishments of the past year- both in and out of the pool. Some of the most elite Team USA athletes were honored by USA Swimming for their achievements, with an emphasis on their performances at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Tonight’s 18th annual Golden Goggles ceremony was held at the Faena Beach Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida.

There were eight awards up for grabs this year where fans had a chance to contribute to a percentage of the vote via an online ballot. NBC’s lead sports commentator Mike Tirico hosted the event in true Olympic fashion. Besides leading NBC’s coverage in Tokyo, Tirico also previously joined Rowdy Gaines as an analyst in Wave II of the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials this summer in Omaha, Nebraska. 

The full list of nominees and winners in each category can be found below. 

 

2021 Golden Goggle Awards Nominees & Winners

Female Race of the Year

This award is given to the female swimmer with the greatest single individual race of the year, with special emphasis on the 2020 Olympic Games.

  • Lydia Jacoby – 100m Breaststroke (2020 Olympic Games)
  • Katie Ledecky – 800m Freestyle (2020 Olympic Games)
  • Katie Ledecky – 1500m Freestyle (2020 Olympic Games)

During Jacoby’s race in Tokyo, she emerged from the water with each stroke wearing her lucky pink goggles, given to her by Olympic breaststroke legend, Jessica Hardy. Jacoby said during her acceptance speech that she got the chance to meet Hardy in April. During this interaction, Hardy told Jacboy she could win gold in Tokyo. And that she did.

 

Male Race of the Year 

This award is given to the male swimmer with the greatest single individual race of the year, with special emphasis on the 2020 Olympic Games.

  • Caeleb Dressel – 100m Freestyle (2020 Olympic Games)
  • Caeleb Dressel – 100m Butterfly (2020 Olympic Games)
  • Bobby Finke – 800m Freestyle (2020 Olympic Games)
  • Chase Kalisz – 400m Individual Medley (2020 Olympic Games)

Bobby Finke, whose stellar closing meters coined the phrase, “You got Finked!”, thanked his teammates, family, and his girlfriend. Finke gave a special “thank you” to the Team USA Manager… for booking flights and handling the logistics for Team USA.

 

Breakout Performer of the Year

This award is given to the athlete whose performance(s) stand out in relation to other years, with special emphasis on the 2020 Olympic Games.

  • Bobby Finke
  • Katie Grimes
  • Lydia Jacoby
  • Emma Weyant

In her second acceptance speech of the night, Jacoby thanked all the members of Team USA for always being there to help her during her first Olympic experience… and even after Tokyo came to a close. She said it was not just the younger crowd, too. Jacoby then realized she called some of her teammates old. This was an ongoing joke the rest of the night

 

Perseverance Award

This award is given to the athlete who came back from adversity, retirement, sickness, injury, etc., to have an outstanding performance(s) in 2021, with special emphasis on the 2020 Olympic Games.

  • Annie Lazor
  • Erica Sullivan
  • Tom Shields

Lazor received the perseverance award for making her first Olympic team, alongside her training partner Lilly King, after her father passed away prior to U.S. Olympic Team Trials. In her speech, Lazor said that everyone who chased and accomplished the ‘Olympic Dream’ deserves the perseverance award. After the past two years, Lazor is glad that she could be a representative of everyone’s grit behind the glory.

 

Coach of the Year

This award is given to the coach whose athlete(s) performed at the highest level throughout the year, with special emphasis on the 2020 Olympic Games.

  • Ron Aitken
  • Jack Bauerle
  • Todd DeSorbo
  • Greg Meehan
  • Anthony Nesty
  • Gregg Troy

Coach Troy won Golden Goggles coach of the year for coaching standout Olympian Caeleb Dressel to five Olympic gold medals in Tokyo.

 

Relay Performance of the Year

This award is given to the best team relay performance, male or female. The performance considered must be a finals performance, with special emphasis on the 2020 Olympic Games.

  • Women’s 4 x 200m Free Relay (2020 Olympic Games)
  • Men’s 4 x 100m Free Relay (2020 Olympic Games)
  • Men’s 4 x 100m Medley Relay (2020 Olympic Games)

Ryan Murphy, Michael Andrew, Caeleb Dressel, and Zach Apple won the award for relay performance of the year, who won the race from lane one and earned a World Record. Dressel gave a shoutout to the morning swimmers for their solid performance, while Michael Andrew told a story about the night before the race. He said that the swimmers were standing together, looking back at the week they’d had. If they had done what they prepared to do, they could get finished the race in World Record time. The men now all look back fondly on that moment. Zach Apple called being on the relay “an honor of a lifetime”.

 

Golden Goggle: Female Athlete of the Year

This award is given to the top female swimmer of the year with special emphasis on achievements at the 2020 Olympic Games.

  • Lydia Jacoby
  • Katie Ledecky
  • Lilly King
  • Regan Smith

Ledecky was recognized tonight as the G.O.A.T. and the greatest female athlete of all time. Through all of her accomplishments over the past year, and there are so many to note, she took the time to recognize those around her. She humbly thanked her family, teammates, and even the presenters on stage. One of those presenters was Paralympic refugee Abbas Karimi. Ledecky even joked to Lydia about being “old”, since this was her ninth Golden Goggles.

 

Golden Goggle: Male Athlete of the Year

This award is given to the top male swimmer of the year with special emphasis on achievements at the 2020 Olympic Games.

  • Bobby Finke
  • Caeleb Dressel
  • Chase Kalisz
  • Ryan Murphy

Dressel closed out the night by talking about his Olympic experiences. Yes, the medals in Rio in 2016 were a huge highlight for him, but this year in Tokyo was different. Dressel noted that he has the best memories of his life coming back with him from this summer. He reminisced that his favorite moments from the Olympic Games were the small gatherings with his team members. All Dressel ever wanted to be was a swimmer… and his Olympic experience was just that for him.

Dressel’s speech reminds us all of the small moments in swimming that don’t disappear with age or accolades. These athletes, no matter how young or “old” they may be, are normal people accomplishing extraordinary things.

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