PHOENIX, Arizona, November 24. IN our continuing series of award announcements that will culminate with the 2008 World Swimmers of the Year being announced on Dec. 1, Swimming World honors the top Disabled Swimmers of the Year today, and in the December issue.
South Africa's Natalie du Toit and Australia's Matthew Cowdrey have earned the top Paralympic award we have to offer.
du Toit put together an amazing year in which she excelled both in the pool and open water ranks. She became the first female amputee swimmer to qualify for the Olympics when she took fourth at the FINA Open Water Championships in Seville, Spain. She wound up taking 16th overall in the 10K event at the Olympics. At the Paralympics, du Toit posted three world records and won five gold medals the following month. Her efforts were so impressive to our World, Regional Swimmers of the Year panel that she was a strong write-in candidate for the African Swimmer of the Year award. That award will be announced on Wednesday.
Cowdrey, meanwhile, became the first swimmer to defend his title in this category as he also won the 2007 Male Disabled Swimmer of the Year award. Cowdrey, who has a congenital amputation of his left arm, set four individual world records, won four individual gold medals and a pair of individual silver medals at the Paralympics. He also won gold in the 400 medley relay with a world record and took silver in the 400 free relay.