SwimVortex runs its annual awards in the last two weeks of every year. There are no physical cups and certificates, no fat cheques, there being no budget for such things (if anyone would like to sponsor the recognition of excellence in swimming, please contact email@example.com). Meanwhile, there is what counts the most: recognition of excellence and awareness of the opposite. Some of what follows will be considered in more detail in our remaining Top 20 Stories of 2017 series over the coming, last, three days of 2017 but for now, with no further ado …
Sarah Sjostrom, who claimed three gold and a silver at world titles, and Caeleb Dressel, winner of three solo titles amid seven gold medals at the World Championships in Budapest back in July, and have been voted swimmers of the year by SwimVortex.
The Carlile Cup for Lifetime Achievement goes to Nancy Hogshead-Makar, Olympic Champion, award winning civil rights lawyer, speaker and author – both in her own right and as a representative of those who share the honour with her: the #AquaticsMeToo club of women who have, by finding the courage to speak out and then through fearless and focused advocacy for women’s sports, raised awareness of a woefully deep and dark corner of Olympic sport. Their story – decades old and without resolutions for many, as yet – is just getting started.
The issues raised by Hogshead-Makar are among those that must play a part of any serious governance alternative to the current FINA model of blazerdom. With that thought in mind, the Betterment of Swimming award goes to those who have converted the idea of a World Swimming Association and a Professional Swimmers’ Association to reality and registration in 2017. The challenge is on – and another story is just getting started.
On the crest of a wave in the pool of excellence, the top five athletes of the year, in order and according to a points system that takes into account podium places at the showcase of the year, world titles, world records and world textile bests, are: Sarah Sjostrom (SWE), Katie Ledecky (USA), Caeleb Dressel (USA), Katinka Hosszu (HUN) and, joint fifth, Lilly King (USA) and Adam Peaty (GBR).
Peaty, who celebrates his 23rd birthday today, also takes the Performance of the Year award, for his outstanding 25.95sec world record in the 50m breaststroke. Sjostrom topped the vote for women’s performance of the year with the 51.71 world record over 100m freestyle she established leading Sweden in the 100m freestyle at world titles before claiming silver in the 100m final proper. If her effort took her 10 points beyond the 1000-point mark that represented the previous world record, then Peaty’s pioneering sub-26sec for one lap breaststroke accumulated a dizzying 1028 points on the IPS score.
Dressel’s seven-gold tally included two stunning world textile bests, in the 50m freestyle and the 100m butterfly. His coach Gregg Troy, of the Gators at University of Florida in Gainesville, earned world men’s coach go the year, while Johann Wallberg, now guiding Sjostrom, tops the women’s coach vote, for his work in the first year of a handover from the Swedish sprinter’s long0-term mentor Carl Jenner, a man who surely shares some of the shine and honour.
In open water, top honours go to Aurelie Mueller (FRA) and Ferry Weertman (NED), the 10km World champions, Mueller’s efforts contributing to recognition of the French team as the No 1 and most improved nation in open water in 2017.
The SwimVortex Awards, 2017
Best Solo Performers of the Year Long-Course
- Top swimmer: Sarah Sjostrom, Sweden – impact at every level, consistent excellence through soaring seasons long- and short-course
- Top woman: Sarah Sjostrom, Sweden – runner-up, Katie Ledecky
- Top man: Caeleb Dressel, USA – runner-up, Adam Peaty GBR
Performances of the Year:
- Overall: Adam Peaty (GBR) – 25.95, 50m breaststroke, World champion, WR
- Men: Adam Peaty (GBR) – 25.95, 50m breaststroke, World champion, WR
- Women: Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) – 51.71, 100m freestyle WR in relay lead
Open Water Swimmers of the Year:
- Women: Aurelie Mueller (FRA) – 10km World champion
- Men: Ferry Weertman (NED) – 10km World champion
- Boy: Kristof Milak (HUN) – runner-up Kliment Kolesnikov (RUS)
- Girl: Rikako Ikee (JPN) – runner-up Regan Smith (USA
Race of the Year
(not the performance of an individual but the best race of swimmers, plural)
Men: 100m butterfly – won by Caeleb Dressel on a sizzling world textile best 49.86, followed by Kristóf Milák‘s world junior record of 50.62, the bronze shared at 50.83 by Olympic champion Joe Schooling (SIN) and the surprise package on ‘fly these past two seasons, Britain’s James Guy, the last man to race stroke for stroke on that stroke with Michael Phelps before the most decorated Olympian in history left his tally at 23 gold and 28 medals in all.
Women: 200m freestyle – won by Federica Pellegrini (ITA) in 1:54.73 after she timed her challenge to perfection and stole the crown for a third time to make a record seventh straight world-titles podium over four laps freestyle. In doing that, at 29, she became the first woman to make seven straight podiums in any event at World Championships, the first to claim thirteen wins over 200m freestyle – and the first ever to stop Katie Ledecky claiming gold in global waters since the American shot to prominence with Olympic 800m gold when 15 at London 2012. Ledecky shared silver with Australian Emma McKeon in 1:55.18.
Mentor Medals – coaches of the year:
- Men’s: Gregg Troy (USA), coach to Caeleb Dressel and others at the University of Florida (right) – runner-up Mel Marshall, coach to Adam Peaty
- Women’s: Johann Wallberg (SWE), coach to Sarah Sjostrom – runner-up Greg Meehan, coach to Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel and others at Stanford University
The regional swimmers of the year
- Africa – men and women: Chad Le Clos (RSA) and Farida Osman (EGY)
- Americas – men and women: Caeleb Dressel (USA) and Katie Ledecky and Lilly King (USA) jointly (in part because of the world record, in recognition of the extra chances freestylers have over other stroke specialists but also because it is too easy to overlook Ledecky’s impact)
- Asia – men and women: Ippei Watanabe (JPN), who set the world 200m breaststroke record, and Rikako Ikee (JPN) – (there are no awards for Chinese swimmers owing to a lack of trust in a system that has produced far too many positive tests, particularly among teenage girls; the abuse of such young athletes form the darkest chapter, nay tome, of swimming history and should not be ignored)
- Europe – men and women: Adam Peaty (GBR) and Sarah Sjostrom (SWE)
- Oceania – men and women: Mack Horton (AUS) and Emily Seebohm (AUS)
Quartet Cup – Relays
- Men: GBR 4x200m freestyle – Stephen Milne (1:47.25); Nick Grainger (1:46.05); Duncan Scott (1:44.60) James Guy (1:43.80) – 7:01.70 Heats: Milne; Grainger; Calum Jarvis; Scott
- Women: USA 4x100m medley – Kathleen Baker (58.54); Lilly King (1:04.48); Kelsi Worrell (56.30); Simone Manuel (52.23) – 3:51.55 WR. Heats: Olivia Smoliga; Katie Meili, Sarah Gibson; Mallory Comerford
Non 1 Nation:
- United States of America – a no brainer, with 18 golds topping a 38-medal tally at world titles in Budapest, seven men’s crowns and nine women’s crowns, including all three relays and all but one freestyle event, in the mix. And that on the back of soaring dominance in the pool at Rio 2016 and the transition that often follows Olympic year.
- Open Water: France – what a year – one worth an entry in the remaining top 20 stories of 2017 to be published in the last 3 days of the year
Most improved nation:
- Great Britain (reliant on the men’s team)
All seven of Britain’s medals at world titles in Budapest were won by nine men, including relay medals topped by the 4x200m freestyle gold. Adam Peaty and Ben Proud accounted for the other solo golds, the momentum of Rio 2016 carried with flying colours.
- Open water: France – see above
Photo Of The Year:
We didn’t ask Patrick B. Kraemer for his vote but the image he caught of Adam Peaty not walking on water but swimming in air over dryland is worth special mention in a catalogue of excellent work that contributes enormously to our coverage of world-class swimming.
The following awards, among others, will be announced on the last day of the year:
Then following categories of awards recognise those people, organisations and movements pressing for critical change in the dark places of the sport of swimming. Those who currently govern world swimming (and down through the chain to domestic bodies wedded to the status quo and finding, or wanting to find, no way of changing that in a way that measures up to progress) are “promoters” (often self-promoters at that, in the sense that their priority is what it all means for them and others wearing blazers) who have simply failed to police their sport, for a variety of reasons that we will spell out in some of the top 15 entries yet to come in our “Top 20 significant stories of 2017”.
Against that backdrop, SwimVortex makes the following awards.
Carlisle Cup – Lifetime Achievement:
The Carlile Cup is granted each year to those whose contribution is not only deep in decades but delivered leadership and pioneering progress to swimming. Here is the what Carlile meant to Shane Gould and why he and those like him are so needed in swimming.
Nancy Hogshead-Makar, Olympic Champion, award winning civil rights lawyer, speaker and author – in her own right and as a representative of what can be described as the #AquaticsMeToo club of women who have, by finding the courage to speak out and then through fearless and focused advocacy for women’s sports, raised awareness of a woefully deep and dark corner of Olympic sport. Their story is just getting started.
Hogshead-Makar, the CEO of the new ChampionWomen and a former Civil Rights Activist at Women’s Sports Foundation, made history in 1984 when she became the first swimmer, together with Carrie Steinseifer, to share Olympic gold in a solo event, the USA teammate’s having stopped the clock at precisely the same moment in the 100m freestyle.
SwimVortex honours Nancy Hogshead-Makar and the #AquaticsMeToo club of women and we will be returning to this theme in our top 3 stories of the year as 2017 comes to a close.
Meanwhile, here is Hogshead-Makar talking about the work of ChampionWomen and why it is needed:
Betterment of Swimming:
There are many around the world who would be eligible for such honour, from the local club coach to the volunteer official who gives decades of unsung-hero service while making continuous efforts to improve the lots of swimmers and the realm they work and play in. Context counts for much, however, and there has never been a more pressing and frustrating time in swimming history when it comes to the need to break the status quo of woefully inadequate and damaging, politics and grace-and-favour governance and build an alternative that places athletes and athlete welfare and safety (the same for those working in the sport in professional capacity) at the heart of all things. It is against that backdrop that we make the following choice:
George Block, John Leonard and others who have converted the idea of a World Swimming Association and a Professional Swimmers’ Association to reality and registration in 2017. The challenge is on – and another story is just getting started. It is not one that must end in the dash of FINA but it is one that must end in the end of what is – for what is, complete with the silence of good people who need to find their courage and voice, is entirely unacceptable. The story of why, how, when, what next and the challenges ahead will be among our top three stories of the year on the last day of 2017.
Honouring the Dishonourable:
FINA’s appalling leadership. Neither comment nor explanation is required here – but there will be both in our closing entries of our Top 20 stories of 2017.