Sarah Sjöström and Noè Ponti Voted Top Swimmers At 2023 European Aquatics Awards

Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden celebrates after winning the gold medal in the 50m Butterfly Women Final during the 20th World Aquatics Championships at the Marine Messe Hall A in Fukuoka (Japan), July 29th, 2023.
Sarah Sjöström: Photo Courtesy: Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Sarah Sjöström and Noè Ponti Voted Top Swimmers At 2023 European Aquatics Awards

Sarah Sjöström and Noè Ponti have been named Europe’s top swimmers of 2023 in the European Aquatics Awards.

It’s the fifth time Sjöström has won the women’s award while Ponti becomes the first Swiss swimmer to have been given the accolade.

The Awards were first held in 2008, based on the votes of national federations with the public voting for the first time last year when Ruta Meilutyte snapped Sjöström’s streak of four straight wins.

The Swede was backed by the federations in the 2023 Awards with Meilutyte getting the public support of more than 12,000 votes.

Sjöström won out by more than 5% to take top spot ahead of Meilutyte and Benedetta Pilato.

The four-time Olympic medallist destroyed the field to claim her fifth consecutive gold in the 50m butterfly at the 2023 World Championships in Fukuoka.

Victory moved her level with Michael Phelps for the most individual medals won in World Championships competition with 20 solo honours.

Sjöström returned to the pool around 20 minutes later for the semi-finals of the 50m freestyle.

There she lowered her own world record to 23.61secs, six years to the day after setting the previous standard of 23.67 at the 2017 worlds in Budapest.

The following day, Sjöström beat the field by almost half a second en-route to her third World 50 free title in 23.62 for the 21st individual title of her career, moving her clear of Phelps to become the most decorated athlete in solo events in World Championship history.

She would go on to reclaim the fly and free titles at the 2024 World Championships in Doha.

Noe Ponti of Switzerland competes in the 50m Butterfly men Final during the FINA Swimming Short Course World Championships at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre in Melbourne, Australia, December 14th, 2022. Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Noè Ponti: Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

In Fukuoka, Ponti was far off the form that secured him Olympic bronze in the 100 fly in Tokyo.

The Swiss athlete was seventh in the 100 fly and didn’t reach the 50 or 200 finals.

However, at the European Short-Course Championships in December 2023, Ponti won the butterfly treble, setting a European record of 48.47 over 100m to take 0.01secs from Evgeny Korotyshkin’s standard that had stood since November 2009.

Ponti followed that up with the 200m title before becoming the first man to complete the treble with victory in the 50m where his time of 21.79 was just 0.04secs outside the world record and sent him third in the all-time rankings.

He also won silver in the 100m individual medley, describing Otopeni as “redemption” for Fukuoka.

Ponti won 50% of the federation votes for the men’s award with Daniel Wiffen heading the public support after a year in which the Irishman set a world 800 free short-course record and a European 800 l/c mark en-route to two fourth places in Fukuoka.

The Swiss ultimately enjoyed a clear victory ahead of Leon Marchand – who downed Michael Phelps’ 400IM world record among three World titles – and Wiffen.


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