Golden Goggle Awards 2016 Re-Cap

The annual Golden Goggle Awards, which is basically the Grammy's of the swim world, concluded last night. This is an annual event recognizes the best athletes in American organized swimming and honors their individual accomplishments. 

As true as it may be that I "missed out" on the to swim in the Olympics, there will always be a place in my heart for the sports I love, especially swimming.

In previous years since it's start in 2004, the Golden Goggles Awards tend to be a bit repetitive, especially in terms of notable athletes like Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, and Katie Hoff. This year, however, was particularly intriguingly peculiar. Simone Manuel broke historical barriers, becoming the first African-American woman to win an individual gold medal at the Olympic games. That was such a proud moment for me, personally. An equally impressive moment in Rio this summer was pairing 2 rookies (Caeleb Dressel and Ryan Held) with 2 veterans (Nathan Adrian and Michael Phelps) for the men's 4x100 freestyle relay. 

photo cred.: Clive Rose/Getty

Swimming fans all over the world cast their votes for the following categories:
  • Breakout Performer of the Year - Lilly King
  • Perseverance Award - Anthony Ervin
  • Coach of the Year - Dave Durden
  • Relay Performance of the Year - Men's 4x100 freestyle relay (Caeleb Dressel, Ryan Held, Nathan Adrian, Michael Phelps)
  • Female Race of the Year - Simone Manuel 
  • Male Race of the Year - Michael Phelps
  • Female Swimmer of the Year - Katie Ledecky (4th consecutive year)
  • Male Athlete of the Year - Michael Phelps
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Road to Rio: Simone Manuel and Lia Neal

image source. Simone Manuel. Photography by Tri Nguyen/The Stanford Daily
Image source. Lia Neal.
Alongside the hooplah of NBA Draft/Trade season, I love to watch athletes from around the world compete in the Olympic Trials, specifically in swimming. Each year around this time, all the joy of competitive swimming comes back to me, as my heart races to see who will make the olympic teams. This year, the world had a chance to witness-not one, but TWO-phenomenal black swimmers and teammates at Standford University, Simone Manuel and 2nd time Olympian, Lia Neal, earn their spot on the USA Olympics 2016 swim team. As I watched them both make qualifying times in their respective races, I was ecstatic, especially because I just know in my heart that more of us are coming to make our marks in the world of swimming. 

As I articulated in a previous post about Justin Lynch, I've been surrounded by black swimmers my entire life, so I never really understood the myth of "black people don't swim". However, in terms of a competition space as big as the Olympics, it is rare, so I get it. It's refreshing to see black athletes perform on a scale such as this. I was a little heartbroken that Cullen Jones didn't qualify this year, but I'm still very proud of every athlete who got out there and performed their hearts out; it's hard to not be inspired by all of it. People who have never played sports competitively fail to realize this, but it's a touch job to participate in sports on a serious level, especially on a global scale, so it's always really fun to watch and feel apart of. 

Congratulations to Simone Manuel and Lia Neal, as they head the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Wishing them and the entire team safe travels and much success. Bring home the gold!

image source. Margo Geer, Simone Manuel, Lia Neal, and Missy Franklin. Photography by Christophe Simon

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Athlete Profile: Justin Lynch

It's not the intent of this blog to highlight the many accolades of the black community, because I do realize that everything is not about race; however, every now and then, I do feel the need to do so, especially when it comes to minorities in sports and academia.

As a swimmer hailing from a swim team owned by a black woman, I've always been exposed to a diverse group of swimmers. A plethora of them were black and were BEAST in the pool. For this very reason, I'm completely shocked when I meet people in 2014, who really don't believe that black people actually do swim. Just imagine the look on people's faces when I tell them I'm a swimmer ('But you're b...built differently..") Honestly, that type of ignorance breaks my heart, especially when it's projected on young athletes. However, little by little, we are dominating in areas the world expects us to not excel in, such as swimming, which warms my little swimmer's heart.

This brings me to talk briefly about 16 year young Justin Lynch from Vallejo, California, taking the swim world by storm. Last year at the Phillips 66 National Championship meet, he dominated the Men's 100 butterfly, beating Michael Phelps' standing record of 52.98 with 52.75. We all know who Phelps is, but in case you didn't know, even a 100th of a second is huge according to swim time. Swimmers work extremely hard to shave a second off of their personal best record, so it's pretty major that he is technically faster than the fastest swimmer in the world.  

Ironically enough, the articles I've read about him don't state the obvious, that he's black, so I will. There are more to mention, such as Simone Manuel, Cullen Jones, Maritza Correia-McClendon, and a myriad of local age group swimmers who are also black and just as great as the ones that came before them.  Not that labels matter, but it makes me really proud to see black people working hard in their respective fields and rising to levels, where they are often overshadowed or discredited. It's phenomenal that a young black boy whose parent(s) encourages basketball and football as oppose to swimming, has leaders who looks like him to be an example. Yes, America, black people DO swim.

A bright future awaits Justin Lynch and I cannot wait to see how well he performs in Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics, because that's definitely where he's headed. 

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