Who Will Be Swimming World’s 2018 World Swimmers of the Year?


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).

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2017 Winners: Sarah Sjostrom & Caeleb Dressel


Photo courtesy: SIPA USA

For the first time since 2012, Swimming World’s Female World Swimmer of the Year was not Katie Ledecky. Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom dethroned Lady Ledecky. The 23-year-old collected the same individual medal haul as Ledecky at the 2017 World Championships—three golds and one silver—but Sjostrom upped Ledecky by uncorking two world records in the 50 and 100 free. And she set four short course meters world records days later.

Sjostrom unleashed something remarkable to lead off Sweden’s 4×100 meter freestyle relay at Worlds: her blistering 51.71 split broke Australian Cate Campbell’s world record by 35-hundredths.

On Day 2 in Budapest, Sjostrom came close to another world record—her own—in the 100 fly, touching in 55.53 seconds, a mere 5-hundredths off of her record time from Rio. Sjostrom became the first woman to win four world titles in a single individual eventwith the victory. She now owns the 11 fastest times in history in the 100 fly!

This was Sjostrom’s first World Swimmer of the Year title and third European Swimmer of the Year title. Six world records in one year—that’s one successful 2017 campaign!


Photo Courtesy: SIPA USA

He was on the verge of making history, but Caeleb Dressel insisted that he had no desire to be compared with Michael Phelps, a man whose athletic accomplishments had long since transcended the sport.

Dressel twice declared his admiration for Phelps, with whom hehad crossed paths at the Rio Olympics—the fifth Games for Phelps and the first for Dressel. But the 20-year-old Floridian also utteredthese words: “I just want to keep doing my own thing.”

His “own thing” had, to that point, produced six World Championship gold medals at FINA’s global showcase meet in Budapest. One day later, he would win a record-tying seventh. The only other man to win that many was, of course, Phelps.

And, for those efforts, Dressel was named the winner of an award that Phelps won eight times: Male World Swimmer of the Year.

2019Regan Smith, USACaeleb Dressel, USA
2018Katie Ledecky, USAAdam Peaty, GBR
2017Sarah Sjostrom, SWECaeleb Dressel, USA
2016Katie Ledecky, USAMichael Phelps, USA
2015Katie Ledecky, USAAdam Peaty, GBR
2014Katie Ledecky, USAKosuke Hagino, JPN
2013Katie Ledecky, USASun Yang, CHN
2012Missy Franklin, USAMichael Phelps, USA
2011Rebecca Soni, USARyan Lochte, USA
2010Rebecca Soni, USARyan Lochte, USA
2009Federica Pellegrini, ITAMichael Phelps, USA
2008Stephanie Rice, AUSMichael Phelps, USA
2007Laure Manaudou, FRAMichael Phelps, USA
2006Leisel Jones, AUSMichael Phelps, USA
2005Leisel Jones, AUSGrant Hackett, AUS
2004Yana Klochkova, UKRMichael Phelps, USA
2003Hannah Stockbauer, GERMichael Phelps, USA
2002Natalie Coughlin, USAIan Thorpe, AUS
2001Inge De Bruijn, NEDIan Thorpe, AUS
2000Inge De Bruijn, NEDPieter van den Hoogenband, NED
1999Penny Heyns, RSAIan Thorpe, AUS
1998Jenny Thompson, USAIan Thorpe, AUS
1997Claudia Poll, CRCMichael Klim, Aus
1996Penny Heyns, RSADenis Pankratov, RUS
1995Kristina Egerszegi, HUNDenis Pankratov, RUS
1994Samantha Riley, AUSKieren Perkins, AUS
1993Franziska Van Almsick, GERKaroly Guttler, HUN
1992Kristina Egerszegi, HUNEgveni Sadovyi, URS
1991Kristina Egerszegi, HUNTamas Darnyi, HUN
1990Janet Evans, USAMike Barrowman, USA
1989Janet Evans, USAMike Barrowman, USA
1988Janet Evans, USA,  Kristin Otto, GDR  *Matt Biondi, USA
1987Janet Evans, USATamas Darnyi, HUN
1986Mary T. Meagher, USA,  Kristin Otto, GDR *Matt Biondi, USA
1985Mary T. Meagher, USAMichael Gross, FRG
1984Tiffany Cohen, USA,  Kristin Otto, GDR  *Alex Baumann, CAN
1983Tiffany Cohen, USA,  Ute Geweniger, GDR *Rick Carey, USA
1982Tracy Caulkins, USA,  Petra Schneider, GDR  *Vladimir Salnikov, URS
1981Mary T. Meagher, USAAlex Baumann, CAN
1980Tracy Caulkins, USA,  Petra Schneider, GDR  *Rowdy Gaines, USA
1979Cynthia Woodhead, USAVladimir Salnikov, URS
1978Tracy Caulkins, USAJesse Vassallo, USA
1977Wendy Boglioli, USA,  Ulrike Tauber, GDR *Brian Goodell, USA
1976Shirley Babashoff, USA,  Kornelia Ender, GDR  *John Naber, USA
1975Shirley Babashoff, USA,  Kornelia Ender, GDR  *Tim Shaw, USA
1974Shirley Babashoff, USA,  Ulrike Tauber, GDR  *Tim Shaw, USA
1973Novella Calligaris, ITA,  Kornelia Ender, GDR  *Rick DeMont, USA
1972Shane Gould, AUSMark Spitz, USA
1971Shane Gould, AUSMark Spitz, USA
1970Alice Jones, USAGary Hall, USA
1969Debbie Meyer, USAGary Hall, USA
1968Debbie Meyer, USACharles Hickcox, USA
1967Debbie Meyer, USAMark Spitz, USA
1966Claudia Kolb, USAMike Burton, USA
1965Martha Randall, USADick Roth, USA
1964N/ADon Schollander, USA
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1 comment

  1. avatar

    Morozov, Vladimir, RUS
    Sjostrom, Sarah, SWE

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