The U.S. National Team has assembled Beverly Hills for the Golden Goggles to recognize the top performances this year. Every year, some awards are given out to the right swimmers, while some are messed up, based on USA Swimming biases. For each award, there is someone who clearly should win, but the eventual winner is not always the same person. Without further ado, here are the categories.
Breakout Performer of the Year:
Comes from (not really) nowhere to be ranked in the top 5 all-time in 3 events, a silver at the World Champs, and one of the only guys who has ever broken a Phelps record. Duh!
Should: Eric Shanteau
Oh come on! He should be nominated for Perseverance, not Breakout! But he won this one last year (because of USA Swimming bias), which I'm sure they not regret! So...
Actually, all of these nominees would be great recipients, all classic cases of perseverance, but Vollmer had the complete bounce-back package, and showed remarkable consistency last year, from Pac-10s to NCAAs to Santa Clara to Nationals to Worlds, never letting up, and the come-back anyone wants to have.
She has two thing the others don't: a world title and a world record. People know her name. This one's her's.
Coach of the Year:
Was behind the remarkable years of Shanteau, Berens, Walters, and Peirsol, and also got Garrett Weber-Gale and Jackson Wilcox on the team. Wow!
He's Phelps' coach. There's the USA Swimming bias kicking in.
Relay Performance of the Year (all from the 2009 World Championships):
Men’s 400 Free Relay (Phelps, Lochte, Grevers, Adrian)
Men’s 800 Free Relay (Phelps, Berens, Walters, Lochte)
Men’s 400 Medley Relay (Peirsol, Shanteau, Phelps, Walters)
Should: 400 Medley
They all were solid swims and showed the complete dominance of the American men, but the medley was all-around the best effort.
Will: 400 Free
They won the re-match with France, but that was mostly because the French flunked.
Female Race of the Year:
Jessica Hardy – 100 Breaststroke (2009 U.S. Open)
Ariana Kukors – 200 Individual Medley (2009 World Championships)
Rebecca Soni – 100 Breaststroke (2009 World Championships)
Should: Kukors 200 IM
Even with her Jaked, if you drop over 2 seconds off a world record and over 4 off your best time. that's a pretty good swim!
Even though her semi-final swim was more impressive than her final swim.
Male Race of the Year (all from the 2009 World Championships):
Ryan Lochte – 200 Individual Medley
Aaron Peirsol – 200 Backstroke
Michael Phelps – 100 Butterfly
Michael Phelps – 200 Butterfly
Should: Peirsol 200 Back
1:51? Wasn't his best time 1:54 a month before that? Remember, he never wore anything more than leggings, so you can't give it all to the suit. The awesomest swim this year by a long way. No question.
Will: Phelps 100 Fly
Problem is, everyone's obsessed with Phelps taking down Cavic in the 100 fly. But was anyone actually surprised with the time (49.8)? That's been coming for a long time. Seems like Phelps won a great race with Cavic, but it wasn't nearly as amazing of a swim as Peirsol's. Peirsol's non-attendance (he's at the World Cup in Singapore) may hurt his chances as well.
Female Athlete of the Year:
All three had great years, but Soni gets the nod I think because of her top times in multiple events. It would be much more clear cut if that 200 had gone a bit better...
Doubt she loses this one.
Male Athlete of the Year:
Six months off, some controversy, and he's still the best swimmer in the world. Any questions?
Even though I have heard some whispers that Lochte may get the nod, does anyone actually see Phelps losing this one?