USA Swimming Golden Goggle Awards: A Marketing Perspective


USA Swimming hosted their 10th Annual Golden Goggle Awards Sunday November 24th, 2013 in Los Angeles. While the Golden Goggle Awards focus on the outstanding accomplishments of USA swimmers inside the pool, we took a look at the marketing power of USA swimmers on dry land.


Ryan Lochte signs autographs

Ryan Lochte | Male Athlete of the Year

Ryan Lochte maintains his crown as king of the pool, adding his fourth Golden Goggle for Male Athlete of the Year to his trophy collection, which also includes 11 Olympic medals.

After his dominant performance in the 2012 London Olympics, Ryan began his climb to the top of the endorsement podium, cashing in on deals from Speedo, Mutual of Omaha, Gillette, Gatorade, Ralph Lauren, Nissan, Fathead, and AT&T, to name a few. Capitalizing on his fame, Lochte landed an E! reality series titled “What Would Ryan Lochte Do?” which helped connect the swimmer with consumers outside of the sports demographic. Although the series only lasted one season, Ryan’s worldwide influence leaped beyond the reach of all but one US swimmer: Michael Phelps.

Ryan Lochte Twitter Followers: 1,006,038

Ryan Lochte Tweet Value: $8,652

How does Ryan measure up? With a little over 1 million Twitter followers, Ryan Lochte has the 2nd highest digital marketing value among US swimmers. Outside of swimming, Lochte is ranked #104 in the world in terms of Twitter followers for a professional athlete.


Katie Ledecky 1500 free WR at BCN2013

Katie Ledecky | Female Athlete of the Year

Katie Ledecky has a powerful future in the pool, winning Female Athlete of the Year at just 16 years old. Her accolades include winning four gold medals in the 2013 FINA World Championships, and taking the honors as the US Olympic Committee’s SportsWoman of the Year.

While Katie would be a surefire fit for swimming-focused sponsors, she has elected to forgo potential endorsement deals, as she plans to swim in college. That doesn’t stop us from analyzing the marketing power of Katie’s social media influence.

Katie Ledecky Twitter Followers: 16,946

Katie Ledecky Tweet Value: $90

How does Katie measure up? Just as Katie’s swimming career is in its infancy, her social media presence is just getting started. With nearly 17,000 followers, Katie is the 22nd most followed athlete among US swimmers.


Missy Franklin after winning 200m backstroke

Missy Franklin | Relay Performance of the Year

Another young superstar for the sport of swimming, Missy Franklin added Relay Performance of the Year to her trophy case, alongside her four Olympic gold medals.

Missy’s decision to attend college at the University of California, Berkeley was widely covered. As Franklin enrolled in classes as a Golden Bear, she elected to forgo a golden amount of endorsements. If her in-pool dominance continues, Missy will have plenty waiting for her after graduation.

Missy Franklin Twitter Followers: 369,516

Missy Franklin Tweet Value: $3,066

How does Missy measure up? Missy is the most-followed female swimmer in the US, and one of only 10 female athletes with at least 350,000 Twitter followers, ranking her as the #302 most-followed athlete on Twitter.


2013 Olympic Swimmers USO Tour

Natalie Coughlin | Relay Performance of the Year

Natalie is a 12 time Olympic Medalist, and took home the team award of Relay Performance of the Year. Coughlin turned in a dominant performance at the 2012 London Olympic Games, becoming the first American female athlete to win six medals in one Olympic Games.

Her performance in London thrust Natalie to the forefront of sports marketing opportunities, landing deals with Speedo, BMW, Omega Watches, TD Ameritrade, H2O Audio and Pantene.

Natalie Coughlin Twitter Followers: 102,614

Natalie Coughlin Tweet Value: $882

How does Natalie measure up? With over 100,000 followers, Natalie ranks #5 among US swimmers in terms of digital marketing value. Her all-access presence on Twitter strengthens her endorsement power among current and prospective brand partners.


Image via @S_Vreeland Twitter
Image via @S_Vreeland Twitter

Shannon Vreeland | Relay Performance of the Year

Also taking home the Relay Performance of the Year award was Shannon Vreeland, the 22 year old from Overland Park, Kansas. Shannon won an Olympic gold medal in the 2012 London Olympic Games as a member of the 4×200 meter freestyle relay.

Shannon is still considered an amateur athlete, as she captains the Georgia Bulldogs swim team. Her time for endorsements will come, but in the meantime, Shannon will look to boost her social media following to help attract brand partners the moment she turns pro.

Shannon Vreeland Twitter Followers: 4,929

Shannon Vreeland Tweet Value: $32

How does Shannon measure up? With less than 5,000 followers, Shannon has plenty of room to grow her digital marketing value. Her current influence ranks #32 out of 52 US swimmers on Twitter.


Megan Romano after winning 100 freestyle-2

Megan Romano | Relay Performance of the Year, Perseverance Award

22 year-old Megan Romano took home two awards, joining her relay teammates with the Relay Performance of the Year, and also winning the Perseverance Award. Megan fell short of making the 2012 US Olympic Team, but bounced back to win a team-high six medals at the 2013 World University Games.

Megan was a swimmer alongside Shannon Vreeland at Georgia, and is just getting started with her professional career.

Megan Romano Twitter Followers: 1,444

Megan Romano Tweet Value: $24

How does Megan measure up? Megan’s got plenty more time to improve her digital influence. As a recipient of the perseverance award, we’re certain she’ll have the discipline to boost her marketing value in the years to come.


Image Via @ChaseKalisz Twitter
Image Via @ChaseKalisz Twitter

Chase Kalisz | Breakout Performer of the Year

At just 19 years old, Chase Kalisz is a name to look for in the future of US swimming. USA Swimming named Chase the 2013 Breakout Performer of the Year, after Kalisz won the silver medal in the 400m IM at the World Championships, his first ever major international competition.

Much like Katie Ledecky, Missy Franklin and Shannon Vreeland, Chase has elected to swim in college and post-pone his days as a professional. USA Swimming predicts Chase to lead championship teams in the future, and we predict he’ll be leading championship endorsement campaigns as well.

Chase Kalisz Twitter Followers: 1,971

Chase Kalisz Tweet Value: $24

How does Chase measure up? While balancing his time in the classroom and time in the pool, Chase also finds time to build his online presence. We expect his followers to jump well above 10,000 as Chase continues to flourish in international competition.


These seven swimmers impressed us all in 2013, and will continue to build their legacy in the pool. Brands are waiting for some to turn pro, while capitalizing on the worldwide influence of others. The future of endorsements for US swimmers is bright, much like a nicely polished Golden Goggle Award.

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