Katie Ledecky, Bobby Finke Honored as USA Swimming Athletes of the Year at Golden Goggles

Katie Ledecky -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Katie Ledecky, Bobby Finke Honored as USA Swimming Athletes of the Year at Golden Goggles

USA Swimming honored its top athletes and performances of 2022 at its annual Golden Goggles event Monday evening at the Marriott Marquis in New York, and for the eighth time, Katie Ledecky was the recipient of the top honor for women. Ledecky was honored as USA Swimming’s Female Athlete of the Year after she won four gold medals at the FINA World Championships in Budapest, in the 400 freestyle, 1500 free, 800 free relay and 800 free.

Ledecky was the winner of this award ahead of five other nominees including Alex WalshKatie GrimesLilly KingRegan Smith and Torri Huske, but the fourth 400-800-1500 world-title sweep of her career made her a shoo-in for the top athlete award. A much more competitive category was the Female Race of the Year, where Ledecky’s fifth-consecutive world title in the 800 free was matched up against gold-medal-winning swims from Walsh (200 IM), King (200 breaststroke), Smith (100 backstroke) and Huske (100 butterfly), but Ledecky was again victorious in that category.

Ledecky won a third Golden Goggle as part of the Relay of the Year. The team of Claire WeinsteinLeah Smith, Ledecky and Bella Sims earned the honor for an upset win over Australia in which Ledecky posted the third-fastest split in history to take the lead and Sims had the race of a lifetime to pull away from Aussie anchor Mollie O’Callaghan.

On the men’s side, Bobby Finke secured top honors as Male Athlete of the Year following a year when he concluded his college career at Florida with an NCAA title in the 1650-yard free and then returned to the international stage in style. One year after winning a pair of Olympic gold medals in the 800 and 1500 free in upset fashion, Finke won the world title in the 800 free, swimming an American-record time of 7:39.36, a full 2.5 seconds ahead of his Olympic-gold-medal-winning mark from one year earlier in Tokyo. Finke also won Worlds silver in the 1500 free, also setting an American record in that event. He beat out nominees Ryan MurphyCarson Foster and Nic Fink in that category.

Finke also won Male Race of the Year by virtue of his 800 free title at Worlds.

The final double winner was Leah Smith, who was named the Perseverance Award winner after a year in which she bounced back from missing the Olympic team to swim three individual events plus a relay at Worlds. In addition to the 800 free relay gold, Smith won bronze behind Ledecky and Summer McIntosh in the 400 free while just missing the podium in the 800 free.

Anthony Nesty was given Coach of the Year honors after he led the U.S. men’s team at the World Championships while also coaching Ledecky, Finke, Caeleb DresselKieran Smith and Natalie Hinds onto the Worlds team. The Breakout Performer of the Year went to Leah Hayes, a teenager who qualified for the Worlds team unexpectedly and went on to secure bronze in the 200 IM in Budapest.

Longtime USA Swimming and FINA official Carol Zaleski and former USA Swimming Foundation CEO Bill Maxon were honored with the Impact Award for their decades of service and contributions to the sport.

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