Golden Goggles Event Honors Top American Swimmers

BEVERLY HILLS, California, November 19. MICHAEL Phelps (Baltimore, Md.) and Katie Hoff (Towson, Md.) took home top honors last night at the USA Swimming Foundation's Golden Goggle Awards, as the two Maryland natives were named Male and Female Athlete of the Year. The Golden Goggle Awards, held at The Beverly Hilton and hosted by late night talk show host Carson Daly (NBC's "Last Call with Carson Daly"), celebrated the swimming accomplishments of 2007, a year in which USA Swimming had one of its most successful international seasons to date.

Phelps finished the night with a total of three Golden Goggle Awards. His record-setting seven gold medals and four individual world records at the 2007 FINA World Championships earned him the Male Athlete of the Year award, as well as the Male Performance of the Year award for his world record-breaking swim in the 200m fly at World Championships. Phelps, along with his teammates Ryan Lochte (Daytona Beach, Fla.), Klete Keller (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Peter Vanderkaay (Rochester, Mich.), also won the Relay Performance of the Year award for their gold medal swim in the 800m free relay at World Championships. The quartet trimmed more than a second off the former world record set by Australia in 2001.

For the third year in a row, 2004 Olympian Hoff was named Female Athlete of the Year, based on her triple gold medal performance at World Championships. At Worlds, Hoff marked her first individual world record with a win in the 400m IM, won gold in the 200m IM, and also anchored the world record-setting 800m free relay team in Melbourne.

Lochte received his second honor of the night, claiming the Perseverance Award. A swimmer with a stack of silver medals – swimming against Aaron Peirsol and Phelps – Lochte made his way to the top step at World Championships by breaking the world record in the 200m backstroke and claiming gold for his country in front of reigning world record-holder Peirsol. With the win, he posted his first long course individual world record, and later wrapped up the meet with a total of two gold and three silver medals.

Ben Wildman-Tobriner (San Francisco, Calif.) was honored with the Breakout Performer of the Year Award for his stellar performance in 2007. The Stanford graduate upset the field and claimed the world championship in the 50m free. The pre-med graduate of Stanford University followed up the performance by earning the National title in the event in August.

The Female Performance of the Year went to Kate Ziegler (Great Falls, Va.) for her record-breaking performance in the 1500m freestyle. Ziegler shaved more than nine seconds off of swimming's longest-standing world record, previously held by Janet Evans, at the TYR Meet of Champions last summer.

Bob Bowman, coach of multiple world-record-holders, won the Golden Goggle for Coach of the Year for the second straight year. Bowman coached Phelps, his headlining swimmer, to record heights in 2007 and placed six Club Wolverine swimmers on the 2007 World Championships Team. The 42-year-old also was the men's head coach at World Championships, where Team USA put together one of the most dominant performances in meet history.

Among the celebrity guests in attendance tonight were Chris Williams, star of the hit movie "Dodgeball" and David James Elliott, star of the CBS hit show, "JAG," as well as Olympic legends Bruce Jenner, Mark Spitz, Sippy Woodhead and Lenny Krayzelburg.

Special thanks to USA Swimming for providing us with the full report from the Golden Goggles.