List of Swimming World Swimmers of the Year

Swimming World Swimmers of the Year is awarded by the American-based Swimming World. There are seven categories: World Swimmer, American Swimmer, European Swimmer, Pacific Rim Swimmer, World Disabled Swimmer, African Swimmer, and Open Water Swimmer of year. An award for male and female is made for each category.[1]

The award was inaugurated in 1964, when Swimming World named Don Schollander as its World Swimmer of the Year. Two years later, a female category was added, and the awards continued in this format until 1980. The winners were mostly American until the rise of East Germany's women in the 1970s, and 1980 saw the creation of subcategories for American and European swimmers. Following the end of the Cold War, Germany declined following the end of the East's systematic state-sponsored doping program, while Australia's swimming team enjoyed a revival. In December 2013, Swimming World announced a decision to strip the drug-fueled East Germans of all World and European Swimmers of the Year awards.[2]

In 1994, Australian swimmers won both awards for World Swimmer of the Year for the first time, and in 1995, a subcategory was inaugurated for Pacific Rim swimmers. A subcategory for disabled swimmers was introduced in 2003, and in the following year, an African award was launched after South Africa became the first country from the continent to win an Olympic relay. In 2005, open water swimming was added to the Olympic program and another category was duly added.

American swimmers have been the most successful in winning awards, with 52 titles, more than three times that of Australia (13). Michael Phelps of the United States has won the global award eight times, followed by Katie Ledecky of the United States and Ian Thorpe of Australia with four. Regionally, German, Hungarian and Dutch swimmers have had the most success in Europe, while Australians have won more than three-quarters of the Pacific awards.

World Swimmers of the Year

The award was inaugurated in 1964, when Swimming World named Don Schollander as its World Swimmer of the Year. One year later, a female category was added. The winners were always American until 1970, and the it was not until 1979 that a non-American male won the award. However, from 1973 until 1989, the rise of East Germany's women saw them win a majority of the awards.[1] Following the end of the Cold War, Germany declined following the end of the East's systematic state-sponsored doping program,[3][4] while Australia's swimming team enjoyed a revival in the late 1990s, winning nine awards since 1997, the most by any country in that period.[1] However, Swimming World has since stripped the East Germans of their titles.

United States swimmers have won the title 51 times, followed by Australia (13 times) and East Germany (11 times).[1] This ratio is approximately proportional to the number of gold medals won by the respective nations at the Olympics. East Germany was particularly successful in the 1970s and 1980s, when they dominated the women's events, aided by systematic state-sponsored doping.[3][4]

With his win in 2016, Michael Phelps (United States) now holds the overall record with eight titles. He won in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012, and 2016. Katie Ledecky (United States) is the second most-prolific winner, winning in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2018. Phelps and Ledecky are the only swimmers to win the award four straight times. Ian Thorpe (AUS) was honored four times, in 1998, 1999, 2001 and 2002.[1]

Ledecky is the only female swimmer to win the award more than three times.[1] Four female swimmers have won three awards: Debbie Meyer (United States) in 1967, 1968 and 1969, Krisztina Egerszegi (HUN) in 1991, 1992 and 1995, Janet Evans (United States) in 1987, 1989 and 1990, and Kristin Otto (GDR) in 1984, 1986 and 1988. Franziska van Almsick is the youngest female to have won the award, having turned 15 on 5 April in the year of her first award. Thorpe is the youngest male recipient, having turned 16 on 13 October in the year of his first award.[5]

Year Female Winner Nationality Male Winner Nationality
1964Not awardedN/ADon Schollander United States
1965Martha Randall[6] United StatesDick Roth United States
1966Claudia Kolb United StatesMike Burton United States
1967Debbie Meyer United StatesMark Spitz United States
1968Debbie Meyer United StatesCharlie Hickcox United States
1969Debbie Meyer United StatesGary Hall, Sr. United States
1970Alice Jones United StatesGary Hall, Sr. United States
1971Shane Gould AustraliaMark Spitz United States
1972Shane Gould AustraliaMark Spitz United States
1973Kornelia Ender East GermanyRick DeMont United States
1974Ulrike Tauber East GermanyTim Shaw United States
1975Kornelia Ender East GermanyTim Shaw United States
1976Kornelia Ender East GermanyJohn Naber United States
1977Ulrike Tauber East GermanyBrian Goodell United States
1978Tracy Caulkins United StatesJesse Vassallo United States
1979Cynthia Woodhead United StatesVladimir Salnikov Soviet Union
1980Petra Schneider East GermanyRowdy Gaines United States
1981Mary T. Meagher United StatesAlex Baumann Canada
1982Petra Schneider East GermanyVladimir Salnikov Soviet Union
1983Ute Geweniger East GermanyRick Carey United States
1984Kristin Otto East GermanyAlex Baumann Canada
1985Mary T. Meagher United StatesMichael Groß West Germany
1986Kristin Otto East GermanyMatt Biondi United States
1987Janet Evans United StatesTamás Darnyi Hungary
1988Kristin Otto East GermanyMatt Biondi United States
1989Janet Evans United StatesMike Barrowman United States
1990Janet Evans United StatesMike Barrowman United States
1991Krisztina Egerszegi HungaryTamás Darnyi Hungary
1992Krisztina Egerszegi HungaryYevgeny Sadovyi Russia
1993Franziska van Almsick GermanyKároly Güttler Hungary
1994Samantha Riley AustraliaKieren Perkins Australia
1995Krisztina Egerszegi HungaryDenis Pankratov Russia
1996Penny Heyns South AfricaDenis Pankratov Russia
1997Claudia Poll Costa RicaMichael Klim Australia
1998Jenny Thompson United StatesIan Thorpe Australia
1999Penny Heyns South AfricaIan Thorpe Australia
2000Inge de Bruijn NetherlandsPieter van den Hoogenband Netherlands
2001Inge de Bruijn NetherlandsIan Thorpe Australia
2002Natalie Coughlin United StatesIan Thorpe Australia
2003Hannah Stockbauer GermanyMichael Phelps United States
2004Yana Klochkova UkraineMichael Phelps United States
2005Leisel Jones AustraliaGrant Hackett Australia
2006Leisel Jones AustraliaMichael Phelps United States
2007Laure Manaudou FranceMichael Phelps United States
2008Stephanie Rice AustraliaMichael Phelps United States
2009Federica Pellegrini ItalyMichael Phelps United States
2010Rebecca Soni United StatesRyan Lochte United States
2011Rebecca Soni United StatesRyan Lochte United States
2012Missy Franklin United StatesMichael Phelps United States
2013Katie Ledecky United States Sun Yang China
2014Katie Ledecky United StatesKosuke Hagino Japan
2015Katie Ledecky United StatesAdam Peaty Great Britain
2016Katie Ledecky United StatesMichael Phelps United States
2017Sarah Sjöström SwedenCaeleb Dressel United States
2018Katie Ledecky United StatesAdam Peaty Great Britain
2019Regan Smith United StatesCaeleb Dressel United States

American Swimmers of the Year

Michael Phelps has been named American Swimmer of the Year on eleven occasions; his streak of 2001 to 2009 was interrupted only by Aaron Peirsol in 2005. Katie Ledecky is the most decorated female swimmer with six awards, followed by Evans, who won five consecutive awards from 1987 to 1991. Tracy Caulkins won four times in the early-1980s, while Natalie Coughlin, Katie Hoff and Jenny Thompson all won three times. On the men’s side, Mike Barrowman and Lenny Krayzelburg won the award four consecutive times, while Matt Biondi and Tom Dolan captured three awards.[1]

Year[1] Female Winner Male Winner
1980Tracy CaulkinsMike Bruner
1981Tracy CaulkinsCraig Beardsley
1982Tracy CaulkinsSteve Lundquist
1983Tiffany CohenRick Carey
1984Tracy CaulkinsPablo Morales
1985Mary T. MeagherMatt Biondi
1986Betsy MitchellMatt Biondi
1987Janet EvansDavid Wharton
1988Janet EvansMatt Biondi
1989Janet EvansMike Barrowman
1990Janet EvansMike Barrowman
1991Janet EvansMike Barrowman
1992Summer SandersMike Barrowman
1993Jenny ThompsonEric Namesnik
1994Allison WagnerTom Dolan
1995Amy Van DykenTom Dolan
1996Amy Van Dyken4×100 m medley relay team[note 1]
1997Kristine QuanceLenny Krayzelburg
1998Jenny ThompsonLenny Krayzelburg
1999Jenny ThompsonLenny Krayzelburg
2000Brooke BennettLenny Krayzelburg
Tom Dolan
2001Natalie CoughlinMichael Phelps
2002Natalie CoughlinMichael Phelps
2003Amanda BeardMichael Phelps
2004Amanda BeardMichael Phelps
2005Katie HoffAaron Peirsol
2006Katie HoffMichael Phelps
2007Katie HoffMichael Phelps
2008Natalie CoughlinMichael Phelps
2009Ariana Kukors
Rebecca Soni
Michael Phelps
2010Rebecca SoniRyan Lochte
2011Rebecca SoniRyan Lochte
2012Missy FranklinMichael Phelps
2013Katie LedeckyRyan Lochte
2014Katie LedeckyRyan Cochrane
Tyler Clary
2015Katie LedeckyMichael Phelps
2016Katie LedeckyMichael Phelps
2017Katie LedeckyCaeleb Dressel
2018Katie LedeckyChase Kalisz
2019Regan SmithCaeleb Dressel

European Swimmers of the Year

East Germany was particularly successful in the 1970s and 1980s, when they dominated the women's events, aided by systematic state-sponsored doping.[3][4] Their women swept the award for the first ten years of its existence from 1980 to 1989, with Kristin Otto winning three times, before the Berlin Wall and communism fell. With the end of the state-sponsored doping program, the (East) German stranglehold on women's swimming was broken.[1][3][4] In the two decades since reunification, the female award was won by Germans four times, three by Franziska van Almsick.[1] During the 1980s, Michael Gross of West Germany, nicknamed The Albatross in reference to his vast wingspan, dominated European swimming, winning five consecutive awards from 1982 to 1986, record that stood alone until Adam Peaty of Great Britain equalled the feat between 2014 and 2018.[1] Swimming World has vacated all awards previously awarded to East German swimmers because of the government-sanctioned systematic doping.[1]

Hungary has won the award 17 times, mainly on the back of its strength in medley swimming. Breaststrokers Ágnes Kovács and Károly Güttler, and backstroker Sándor Wladár were the only Hungarian winners who were not champion medley swimmers. Krisztina Egerszegi won four awards, the most by a female swimmer, while Tamás Darnyi claimed three.[1] The Netherlands have won seven awards, through the efforts of Inge de Bruijn (3) and Pieter van den Hoogenband (4), who led the sprinting world for women and men at the turn of the century. Russian or Soviet swimmers have won seven awards, all of them male.[1]

Year[1] Female Winner Nationality Male Winner Nationality
1980Petra Schneider East GermanyVladimir Salnikov Soviet Union
1981Ute Geweniger East GermanySándor Wladár Hungary
1982Cornelia Sirch East GermanyMichael Groß West Germany
1983Ute Geweniger East GermanyMichael Groß West Germany
1984Kristin Otto East GermanyMichael Groß West Germany
1985Silke Hörner East GermanyMichael Groß West Germany
1986Kristin Otto East GermanyMichael Groß West Germany
1987Silke Hörner East GermanyTamás Darnyi Hungary
1988Kristin Otto East GermanyTamás Darnyi Hungary
1989Anke Möhring East GermanyGiorgio Lamberti Italy
1990Krisztina Egerszegi HungaryAdrian Moorhouse Great Britain
1991Krisztina Egerszegi HungaryTamás Darnyi Hungary
1992Krisztina Egerszegi HungaryYevgeny Sadovyi Russia
1993Franziska van Almsick GermanyKároly Güttler Hungary
1994Franziska van Almsick GermanyAlexander Popov Russia
1995Krisztina Egerszegi HungaryDenis Pankratov Russia
1996Michelle Smith IrelandDenis Pankratov Russia
1997Ágnes Kovács HungaryEmiliano Brembilla Italy
1998Ágnes Kovács HungaryDenys Sylantyev Ukraine
1999Inge de Bruijn NetherlandsPieter van den Hoogenband Netherlands
2000Inge de Bruijn NetherlandsPieter van den Hoogenband Netherlands
2001Inge de Bruijn NetherlandsRoman Sloudnov Russia
2002Franziska van Almsick GermanyPieter van den Hoogenband Netherlands
2003Hannah Stockbauer GermanyAlexander Popov Russia
2004Yana Klochkova UkrainePieter van den Hoogenband Netherlands
2005Otylia Jędrzejczak PolandLászló Cseh Hungary
2006Laure Manaudou FranceLászló Cseh Hungary
2007Laure Manaudou FranceMateusz Sawrymowicz Poland
2008Rebecca Adlington Great BritainAlain Bernard France
2009Federica Pellegrini ItalyPaul Biedermann Germany
2010Federica Pellegrini ItalyCamille Lacourt France
2011Federica Pellegrini ItalyAlexander Dale Oen Norway
2012Ranomi Kromowidjojo NetherlandsYannick Agnel France
2013Katinka Hosszú HungaryDániel Gyurta Hungary
2014Katinka Hosszú HungaryAdam Peaty Great Britain
2015Sarah Sjöström SwedenAdam Peaty Great Britain
2016Katinka Hosszú HungaryAdam Peaty Great Britain
2017Sarah Sjöström SwedenAdam Peaty Great Britain
2018Sarah Sjöström SwedenAdam Peaty Great Britain
2019Katinka Hosszú HungaryAdam Peaty Great Britain

Pacific Rim Swimmers of the Year

The Pacific Rim award was introduced in 1995, the year after two Australian swimmers—Kieren Perkins and Samantha Riley—became the first two Pacific Rim swimmers to be named as World Swimmer of the Year. It has subsequently been dominated by Australian swimmers, who have won 30 of the 48 awards given. Ian Thorpe won six awards (five consecutively) and Susie O'Neill has won four (three consecutively). Australia’s success has been built on female butterfliers (O’Neill and Petria Thomas), female breaststrokers (Riley and Leisel Jones), and male freestylers (Thorpe, Grant Hackett and Michael Klim). The men's awards have been dominated by Asian swimmers since 2006. Kosuke Kitajima (Japan) was the first non-Australian swimmer to win the award more than once (in 2003, 2007, 2008, and 2010).[1][7] He was followed by Sun Yang of China who won five awards (in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2017 and 2018).

Year Female Winner Nationality Male Winner Nationality
1995Susie O'Neill AustraliaScott Miller Australia
1996 Le Jingyi ChinaDanyon Loader New Zealand
1997Samantha Riley AustraliaMichael Klim Australia
1998Susie O'Neill AustraliaIan Thorpe Australia
1999Susie O'Neill AustraliaIan Thorpe Australia
2000Susie O'Neill AustraliaIan Thorpe Australia
2001Petria Thomas AustraliaIan Thorpe Australia
2002Petria Thomas AustraliaIan Thorpe Australia
2003Leisel Jones AustraliaKosuke Kitajima Japan
2004Jodie Henry AustraliaIan Thorpe Australia
2005Leisel Jones AustraliaGrant Hackett Australia
2006Leisel Jones Australia Park Tae-hwan South Korea
2007Libby Lenton AustraliaKosuke Kitajima Japan
2008Stephanie Rice AustraliaKosuke Kitajima Japan
2009Jessicah Schipper Australia Zhang Lin China
2010Alicia Coutts AustraliaKosuke Kitajima Japan
2011 Ye Shiwen China Sun Yang China
2012 Ye Shiwen China Sun Yang China
2013Cate Campbell Australia Sun Yang China
2014Cate Campbell AustraliaKosuke Hagino Japan
2015Emily Seebohm AustraliaMitch Larkin Australia
2016Rie Kaneto JapanKosuke Hagino Japan
2017Emily Seebohm AustraliaSun Yang China
2018Cate Campbell AustraliaSun Yang China
2019Ariarne Titmus AustraliaDaiya Seto Japan

African Swimmers of the Year

The African award was introduced in 2004,[1] the year in which South Africa won the men's 4 × 100 m freestyle relay at the Olympics. Although Joan Harrison (1952) and Penny Heyns (1996) had won individual gold medals for South Africa, the 2004 victory was the first time that an African relay team won a medal, indicating their increasing depth. In the same Olympics, Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry's won three medals, including one gold, making her the first African swimmer outside of South Africa to stand on the podium.[1][8] Coventry has won the female award nine times. South African Chad le Clos won seven men's awards in a row, and South African sprinter Roland Schoeman four,[1] and in total South African swimmers have claimed nineteen awards. In 2008, Ous Mellouli of Tunisia broke the South African and Zimbabwean duopoly after becoming the first African male to win an individual Olympic gold medal.[1][8]

Year Female Winner Nationality Male Winner Nationality
2004Kirsty Coventry ZimbabweRoland Schoeman South Africa
2005Kirsty Coventry ZimbabweRoland Schoeman South Africa
2006Suzaan van Biljon South AfricaRoland Schoeman South Africa
2007Kirsty Coventry ZimbabweRoland Schoeman South Africa
2008Kirsty Coventry ZimbabweOussama Mellouli Tunisia
2009Kirsty Coventry ZimbabweOussama Mellouli
Cameron van der Burgh
 South Africa
2010Mandy Loots South AfricaCameron van der Burgh South Africa
2011Kirsty Coventry ZimbabweCameron van der Burgh South Africa
2012Kirsty Coventry ZimbabweChad le Clos South Africa
2013Karin Prinsloo South AfricaChad le Clos South Africa
2014Karin Prinsloo South AfricaChad le Clos South Africa
2015Kirsty Coventry ZimbabweChad le Clos South Africa
2016Kirsty Coventry[9] ZimbabweChad le Clos[9] South Africa
2017Farida Osman EgyptChad le Clos South Africa
2018Tatjana Schoenmaker South AfricaChad le Clos South Africa
2019Tatjana Schoenmaker South AfricaChad le Clos South Africa

Open Water Swimmers of the Year

The Open Water award was introduced in 2005,[1] when it was announced that an open water swimming event would be included in the Olympics for the first time: the 10 km events at the 2008 Olympics.[10] The award has been won by Dutch and German swimmers five times, while Russian swimmers have won four times. Thomas Lurz of Germany has won the award five times, triumphing in 2005, 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2013, while Russia's Larisa Ilchenko has won the award three years in a row (2006–2008).[1][11]

Year Female Winner Nationality Male Winner Nationality
2005Edith van Dijk NetherlandsThomas Lurz
Chip Peterson
 United States
2006Larisa Ilchenko RussiaThomas Lurz Germany
2007Larisa Ilchenko RussiaVladimir Dyatchin Russia
2008Larisa Ilchenko RussiaMaarten van der Weijden Netherlands
2009Keri-Anne Payne United KingdomThomas Lurz Germany
2010Martina Grimaldi ItalyValerio Cleri Italy
2011Keri-Anne Payne United KingdomThomas Lurz
Spyridon Gianniotis
2012Éva Risztov HungaryOussama Mellouli Tunisia
2013Poliana Okimoto BrazilThomas Lurz Germany
2014Sharon van Rouwendaal NetherlandsAndrew Gemmell United States
2015Aurélie Muller FranceJordan Wilimovsky United States
2016Sharon van Rouwendaal NetherlandsFerry Weertman Netherlands
2017Aurélie Muller FranceFerry Weertman Netherlands
2018Sharon van Rouwendaal NetherlandsKristof Rasovszky Hungary
2019Ana Marcela Cunha BrazilFlorian Wellbrock Germany

World Disabled Swimmers of the Year

This award was created in 2003, and then was not awarded in 2004.[1] The award has been won by American swimmers six times, Brazilian and Australian swimmers four times, and Canadian swimmers twice.

Year Female Winner Nationality Male Winner Nationality
2003Danielle Watts United KingdomSergei Punko Belarus
2004Not awardedN/ANot awardedN/A
2005Erin Popovich United StatesBenoît Huot Canada
2006Jessica Long United States Wang Xiaofu China
2007Valérie Grand'Maison CanadaMatthew Cowdrey Australia
2008Natalie du Toit South AfricaMatthew Cowdrey Australia
2009Mallory Weggemann United StatesDaniel Dias Brazil
2010Mallory Weggemann United StatesDaniel Dias Brazil
2011Jessica Long United StatesDaniel Dias Brazil
2012Jacqueline Freney AustraliaMatthew Cowdrey Australia
2013Sophie Pascoe New ZealandDaniel Dias Brazil
2014Ingrid Thunem NorwayIan Silverman United States
2015Rebecca Meyers United StatesIhar Boki Belarus
2015Rebecca Meyers United StatesIhar Boki Belarus
2016Aurélie Rivard CanadaDaniel Dias Brazil
2017Sophie Pascoe New ZealandVincenzo Boni Italy
2018Carlotta Gilli ItalyIhar Boki Belarus

World Water Polo Players of the Year

The Water Polo award was introduced in 2011.[1]

Year Female Winner Nationality Male Winner Nationality
2011Krystina Alogbo CanadaStefano Tempesti Italy
2012Maggie Steffens United StatesMaro Joković Croatia
2013Jennifer Pareja SpainViktor Nagy Hungary
2014Ashleigh Johnson United StatesStefan Živojinović Serbia
2015Ashleigh Johnson United StatesDuško Pijetlović Serbia
2016Ashleigh Johnson United StatesFilip Filipović Serbia
2017Maggie Steffens United StatesMárton Vámos Hungary
2018Sabrina van der Sloot NetherlandsAleksandar Ivović Montenegro

See also


  1. In 1996 the American Swimmer of the Year award was given to the 4×100 m medley relay team of Jeff Rouse, Jeremy Linn, Mark Henderson, and Gary Hall, Jr. who won gold and broke the world record at the Olympics that year.


  1. "Swimmers of the Year". Swimming World. Retrieved 26 March 2009.
  2. Marsteller, Jason. "Stripped! Swimming World Vacates Awards of GDR Drug-fueled Swimmers". Swimming World. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
  3. "Swimming's big splash". BBC Sports. 5 July 2004. Retrieved 8 November 2006.
  4. "Phelps causes biggest splash". BBC Sports. 21 August 2004. Retrieved 19 November 2006.
  5. Hunter, Greg (2004). Ian Thorpe: The Biography. Sydney: MacMillan. pp. 130–133. ISBN 1-4050-3632-X.
  6. Brien, Taylor (13 November 2018). "Who Will Be Swimming World's 2018 World Swimmers of the Year?". Swimming World. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  7. Jeffery, Nicole (27 November 2008). "Rice on top of world again". The Australian. Archived from the original on 2 February 2009. Retrieved 26 March 2009.
  8. "Olympic medal winners". International Olympic Committee. Retrieved 26 March 2009.
    Results classification: "By individual" → Competition gender: Select all → Medal: Select all → Continents and nations: "Africa" → Sports and events: "Swimming" → Search ↵
  9. "Swimming World Magazine Announces African Swimmers of the Year". Swimming World. 28 November 2016. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  10. VOA Sports (28 October 2005). "IOC Includes 10K Open Water Event in 2008 Beijing Olympics". Voice of America. Archived from the original on 18 November 2008. Retrieved 28 March 2009.
  11. "Lane 9 News Archive: Swimming World Names 2009 Open Water Swimmers of the Year". Swimming World. Archived from the original on 4 April 2012. Retrieved 26 October 2011.

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