Ashleigh Johnson, who already made history in 2016 as the first black woman to represent the United States on its Olympic water polo team, is also considered the top water polo goalie on the best women’s water polo team in the world.
Johnson has been named 2019 Top Female Player by Swimming World, the fourth time in ten years that she has been honored with the award. Johnson was born in the US, but her mother is from Kingston, and she spent time as a child with her father, grandmother, and aunt in Duhaney Park. Johnson and her siblings continue to have strong ties to Jamaica and make frequent trips to visit relatives there.
Before moving to the US in 1988, her mother earned a BS in international relations from the University of the West Indies and worked for JAMPRO.
Johnson expressed her thanks on her Facebook page, posting, “Thank you @swimmingworldmag for choosing me as Athlete of the Year for 2019 🌟 Such an incredible honor, and my favorite part is that this award is a reflection of the hard work and accomplishments of our entire team over the past year 😄👏🏿 Looking forward to continuing to grind and dreaming bigger than we ever have in 2020 🥰 @womenswp_usa @usawp.”
In late December, Johnson also won the 2019 Total Player Award, the top award from Total Water Polo. The announcement of this achievement was made on December 23, 2019. Johnson was among five American swimmers who were listed on the Total Water Polo List of Top 10 Female Players.
The award winners were chosen by a panel of 60 experts, 18 media outlets, and 10,000 votes from the general public. Johnson, who is a native of Miami, Florida, was named Most Valuable Player at the 2019 FINA World Championships, attaining 43 saves that brought Team USA a gold medal. Johnson also totaled 42 saves at the Pan American Games in 2019.