FINA Yearly Awards: Caeleb Dressel, Emma McKeon Lead Winners; Filipovic, Steffens, Wellbrock, Cunha Too

fina-Aug 1, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Caeleb Dressel (USA) celebrates after winning the men's 50m freestyle final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher/USA Today Sports

FINA has announced its annual athletes of the year awards. The world’s aquatic governing body selected swimmers, open water swimmers and water polo players of the year.

FINA Male Swimmer of the Year – Caeleb Dressel (USA)

Dressel was the absolute star of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, amassing five gold medals and setting the only individual world record of the meet in the 100m butterfly. He also bettered the Olympic records in the 50m and 100m free. He was also part of USA’s world record breaking 4x100m medley relay, thus becoming the first swimmer ever holding nine world records at the same time.


FINA Female Swimmer of the Year – Emma McKeon

McKeon won an amazing seven medals at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, the most by any female swimmer at a single Olympic Games, and equalled the most medals won by a female athlete in any sport at a single Olympic Games. She completed the sprinting double (50-100m free), was part of two more victorious Aussie relays, in the 4x100m free they set a new world record. Besides her four titles, she had three more bronze medals. Later she claimed the overall win in the FINA Swimming World Cup series, amassing 14 medals over the four legs, 10 of them gold.


FINA Male Water Polo Player of the Year – Filip Filipovic (SRB)

Filip Filipovic and his Serbian team proved once again their outstanding quality by retaining their Olympic title in Tokyo, thus claiming a medal at the fourth consecutive Olympics. As usual, Filip stepped up when it was needed the most and scored the game-winner in the semi-final against Spain. In the final, he led his team to another victory against Greece and was voted the MVP of the men’s tournament. This capped another brilliant season for Filipovic who enjoyed outstanding successes in the club season as well.


FINA Female Water Polo Player of the Year – Maggie Steffens

The US female water polo team was a cut above the rest once more. Maggie Steffens captained her side to another Olympic triumph, the third in a row, a historical feat – before, this was achieved only by male teams previously (Great Britain: 1908-20, Hungary: 2000-08). Team USA was as superior as ever, apart from a rare loss in the prelims, they were overwhelming in all their matches and continued their golden streak as they had won all major FINA tournaments since 2014, including a 7th straight World League crown earlier in the season.


FINA Male Open Water Swimmer of the Year – Florian Wellbrock (GER)

At the 2019 World Aquatics Championships, Florian Wellbrock became the first swimmer to win both the 1500m freestyle and the 10 km open water race at an international competition.  This summer the disciplined swimmer competing in his second Olympic Games won his first Olympic gold medal in the Men’s Marathon Swimming 10km event in Tokyo by a margin of more than 25 seconds. Before the 10km in Tokyo he had already competed in the 800m and 1,500m freestyle events, finishing 4th in the inaugural edition of the 800m freestyle event and he earned his first Olympic medal, a bronze medal in the 1500m freestyle.  Two days ago he anchored the German juggernaut that won the first edition of the President’s Relay on the Yas Bay Waterfront.  Yesterday he was the winner of the final leg of the FINA/CNGS Marathon 10K World Series beating his closest rival by 2.6 seconds in a field of 69 open water swimmers.  Florian Wellbrock, at 24 years of age is a tall lean swimmer with a distinctive tattoo who will surely endeavor to arrive at the Omega touchpad ahead of his rivals for some time to come.

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FINA Female Open Water Swimmer of the Year – Ana Marcela Cunha (BRA)

Brazil’s Ana Marcela Cunha won her first Gold Medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games by beating the 2016 Olympic champion by 0.9 seconds.  This three time Olympian has finished in the top ten of three editions of the Olympic Marathon 10km.  Cunha has won 11 FINA World Championship titles, her first of five gold medals dates back to Shanghai 2011, and her versatility includes world championship titles in 5km, 10km and 25km events.  Yesterday she finished second in the season finale of the Marathon 10K World Series and she was tied for first place in the overall rankings of FINA/CNSG World Series.  Cunha is known as the Queen of marathon swimming and is easily recognizable by the variety of colors of her hair.  FINA has recognized Cunha as the Best Female Open Water Swimmer in 2010, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019, and again in 2021.  At 29 years old, she has secured her place in history and will always be considered one of the best open water swimmers in history.


FINA Swimming Coach of the Year – Gregg Troy

U.S. coach and former Florica coach Gregg Troy was voted Swimming Coach of the Year. He helped lead Dressel to his historic performance in the Tokyo Olympics.