Every year since 1964, Swimming World has acknowledged the top athletes in our sport by voting for the World Swimmers of the Year. The awards expanded to include the Americas and European Regions in 1980, Pacific Rim in 1995, and Africa in 2004. A panel of 15 members, both national and international, participated in the 2017 voting process. In anticipation of the release of the December issue we at Swimming World would like to take a look back at previous winners.
(Editor’s note: In 2013 Swimming World stripped the East German athletes, who were systematically doped in the 1970s and ’80s, from their World and European Swimmer of the Year titles).
2016 Winners: Katie Ledecky & Michael Phelps
To the surprise of no one, Katie Ledecky was unanimously selected as Swimming World’s Female World Swimmer of the Year for the fourth consecutive year. The only other woman to match that feat was Janet Evans from 1987 to 1990.
Ledecky also earned her fourth Female American Swimmer of the Year award. Only five-time winner Evans (1987-91) has more. Lady Ledecky can now legitimately lay claim to being the most dominant female aquatic athlete on the planet.
To cement her claim to that title, Ledecky set a formidable challenge for herself at the Rio Olympics: win the 200, 400 and 800 freestyle events. In 100-plus years of Olympic swimming, only Debbie Meyer had taken that trifecta. And that was in 1968—48 years ago.
Her final medal tally (four golds, one silver) made for the most decorated single-Olympics performance by a U.S. female athlete in terms of gold medals.
For the eighth time in his legendary career, Michael Phelps was named Swimming World’s World Swimmer of the Year. Phelps has now won the award in each of the past four Olympic years, and this honor came 13 years after he first won the award in 2003. His eight awards double the total of the swimmer with the next most titles, Australia’s Ian Thorpe. Phelps also captured Male American Swimmer of the Year honors for the 11th time, also a record.
Phelps concluded the 2016 Rio Olympics by adding another six medals to his collection (five gold and one silver) and received a long-standing ovation from the crowd at the Olympic Aquatic Center following his final race of his fifth Olympics.
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PREVIOUS AWARD WINNERS:
|2017||Sarah Sjostrom, SWE||Caeleb Dressel, USA|
|2016||Katie Ledecky, USA||Michael Phelps, USA|
|2015||Katie Ledecky, USA||Adam Peaty, GBR|
|2014||Katie Ledecky, USA||Kosuke Hagino, JPN|
|2013||Katie Ledecky, USA||Sun Yang, CHN|
|2012||Missy Franklin, USA||Michael Phelps, USA|
|2011||Rebecca Soni, USA||Ryan Lochte, USA|
|2010||Rebecca Soni, USA||Ryan Lochte, USA|
|2009||Federica Pellegrini, ITA||Michael Phelps, USA|
|2008||Stephanie Rice, AUS||Michael Phelps, USA|
|2007||Laure Manaudou, FRA||Michael Phelps, USA|
|2006||Leisel Jones, AUS||Michael Phelps, USA|
|2005||Leisel Jones, AUS||Grant Hackett, AUS|
|2004||Yana Klochkova, UKR||Michael Phelps, USA|
|2003||Hannah Stockbauer, GER||Michael Phelps, USA|
|2002||Natalie Coughlin, USA||Ian Thorpe, AUS|
|2001||Inge De Bruijn, NED||Ian Thorpe, AUS|
|2000||Inge De Bruijn, NED||Pieter van den Hoogenband, NED|
|1999||Penny Heyns, RSA||Ian Thorpe, AUS|
|1998||Jenny Thompson, USA||Ian Thorpe, AUS|
|1997||Claudia Poll, CRC||Michael Klim, Aus|
|1996||Penny Heyns, RSA||Denis Pankratov, RUS|
|1995||Kristina Egerszegi, HUN||Denis Pankratov, RUS|
|1994||Samantha Riley, AUS||Kieren Perkins, AUS|
|1993||Franziska Van Almsick, GER||Karoly Guttler, HUN|
|1992||Kristina Egerszegi, HUN||Egveni Sadovyi, URS|
|1991||Kristina Egerszegi, HUN||Tamas Darnyi, HUN|
|1990||Janet Evans, USA||Mike Barrowman, USA|
|1989||Janet Evans, USA||Mike Barrowman, USA|
|1988||Janet Evans, USA, ||Matt Biondi, USA|
|1987||Janet Evans, USA||Tamas Darnyi, HUN|
|1986||Mary T. Meagher, USA, ||Matt Biondi, USA|
|1985||Mary T. Meagher, USA||Michael Gross, FRG|
|1984||Tiffany Cohen, USA, ||Alex Baumann, CAN|
|1983||Tiffany Cohen, USA, ||Rick Carey, USA|
|1982||Tracy Caulkins, USA, Petra Schneider, GDR *||Vladimir Salnikov, URS|
|1981||Mary T. Meagher, USA||Alex Baumann, CAN|
|1980||Tracy Caulkins, USA, ||Rowdy Gaines, USA|
|1979||Cynthia Woodhead, USA||Vladimir Salnikov, URS|
|1978||Tracy Caulkins, USA||Jesse Vassallo, USA|
|1977||Wendy Boglioli, USA, ||Brian Goodell, USA|
|1976||Shirley Babashoff, USA, ||John Naber, USA|
|1975||Shirley Babashoff, USA, ||Tim Shaw, USA|
|1974||Shirley Babashoff, USA, ||Tim Shaw, USA|
|1973||Novella Calligaris, ITA, ||Rick DeMont, USA|
|1972||Shane Gould, AUS||Mark Spitz, USA|
|1971||Shane Gould, AUS||Mark Spitz, USA|
|1970||Alice Jones, USA||Gary Hall, USA|
|1969||Debbie Meyer, USA||Gary Hall, USA|
|1968||Debbie Meyer, USA||Charles Hickcox, USA|
|1967||Debbie Meyer, USA||Mark Spitz, USA|
|1966||Claudia Kolb, USA||Mike Burton, USA|
|1965||Martha Randall, USA||Dick Roth, USA|
|1964||N/A||Don Schollander, USA|