Swammy Awards 2021: swimmer of the year


To see all of our 2021 Swammy Awards, click here.


australian superstar Emma McKeon gave us an all-time Olympic performance in Tokyo, winning 4 gold and 3 bronze. The 7-medal performance made McKeon the first woman to win 7 or more medals at a single Olympics in any sport. She is the fourth person to accomplish such a feat, but the first non-American, as American swimmers Michael Phelps, Matt Biodi, and Mark Spitz are the only other people in history to do so.

Out of his 7 medalist races, McKeon broke a record in 6 of them. Starting with the 4 × 100 freestyle relay, where the Australian team broke the world record, thanks in large part to McKeon’s 51.35 on the 3rd round, which was the only gap under 52 on the field. She continued to swim under 52 seconds in the 100 individual freestyle, winning gold with a new ocean and Olympic record of 51.96.

The sprinting juggernaut would also win individual gold in the 50 freestyle, swimming a 23.81 to break the Olympic record. Her 4th Olympic gold medal came in the 4x100m medley relay, where her 55.93 butterfly gap was instrumental in taking the advantage of the United States and pushing back 100 butterfly gold medalist Maggie MacNeil from the Canada. The Australians would beat the United States by just 0.13 seconds, breaking the Olympic record and the oceanic record. In McKeon’s other individual event, the 100 butterfly, she swam a 55.72, breaking Australian and Oceanic records and claiming the bronze medal.

In a 4 × 200 free relay final in which the top 3 teams all swam below the previous world record of 7: 41.50, Australia took the bronze medal with a 7: 41.29. McKeon swam 2nd on the Australian relay, dividing 1: 55.31 which was the 6th fastest time in the field. The Australian team still broke the record for Australia and Oceania.

With McKeon’s Olympic performance, she is now tied with Australian legend Ian Thorpe for the most Olympic swimming gold medals in Australian history, with 5 each. her 11 Olympic medals in total now make her the most decorated Australian Olympian in history.

McKeon continued his success until the fall, competing in all 4 stages of the 2021 FINA World Cup. Of the 4 saves, McKeon was the highest scoring swimmer, male or female, declaring: “I’m in. pretty good shape now. The preparations I made for the Olympics are still bearing fruit. In total, McKeon won 14 medals at the 2021 World Cup, including 10 gold.


In no particular order

  • Ariarne Titmus, AUS – Best known for her epic battles with the once invincible Katie Ledecky, Titmus has faced Ledecky three times in Tokyo, winning two of those matches. She had an incredible 50 final in the 200 freestyle final to get her hands on the wall first, swimming a 1: 53.50 for a new Olympic record. Then, in the highly anticipated 400 freestyle final, Titmus bodes well for his time, taking over and beating Ledecky. Titmus broke the oceanic record with a time of 3: 56.69, marking the 2nd fastest all-time performance in the event. Titmus also captured a silver in the 800 freestyle, swimming a new oceanic record of 8: 13.83. She also won a bronze medal in the 4 × 200 freestyle relay, leading the Australian team in 1: 54.51.
  • Kaylee mckeown, AUS – Not to be eclipsed by her Australian teammates, reigning swimmer of the year Kaylee mckeown won 3 gold and 1 bronze in Tokyo. Bronze came in the 4 × 100 medley mixed relay, where McKeown started in 58.14. She swept the backstroke events in Tokyo, breaking the Olympic record in the 100 backstroke final with a time of 57.47, narrowly missing her world record of 57.45, which she swam in the Olympic trials Australians in June. McKeown also won the 200 in 2: 04.68, hitting the first by almost a full second. McKeown also led the Australian women’s 4×100 medley relay in 58.01. The relay broke the Olympic record and the oceanic record.
  • Katie Ledecky, United States – Ledecky has received the Swammy Female Swimmer of the Year award four times, and thanks to her efforts in 2021, she earned an Honorable Mention. Although Ledecky was not the star of the Tokyo Olympics, as she was at the Rio 2016 Olympics, the 24-year-old still won 4 very impressive medals, including 2 gold and 2 silver. She won her third consecutive Olympic gold medal in the 800 freestyle, becoming the first woman in history to triple the peat in this event. Ledecky also won the first women’s Olympic 1500 freestyle, of course setting the Olympic record in the process. She also did it just an hour after the 200 freestyle final, scoring a grueling double for the veteran. She finished 2nd in the 400 free at a traffic light Ariarne Titmus, but still posted the 4th fastest ever performance in the event. Ledecky was also on the US 4 × 200 freestyle relay, which won Silver and broke the US record.
  • Yui Ohashi, JPN – Representing host country Japan, then 25 Yui Ohashi made the most of her Olympic opportunities, sweeping the women’s events out of MI. It all started on Night 1 with the 400 IM final, where Ohashi was able to keep the lead and get his hands on the wall first with a time of 4: 32.08. She then had a little scare in the 200 IM, finishing 10th in the prelims, then 5th in the final, but she managed to qualify each time. Once again, Ohashi made the most of his opportunity to make the final, narrowly beating American Alex Walsh for gold.
  • Tatjana Schoenmaker, RSA – Also contender for Female Swimmer of the Year, Schoenmaker put on a truly amazing Olympics. Qualifying for her first Olympics in both breaststroke events, Schoenmaker kicked off her competition with a silver in the 100m breaststroke, touching only 2nd place to Lydia Jacoby, who won our female swimmer of the year award. . With swimming, she again beat the reigning Olympic champion and world record holder Lilly King. In the preliminaries, she swam a time of 1: 04.82, which would be the fastest swim in the event in Tokyo, and broke the Olympic record and the African record with swimming. It was in the 200 breast, however, that Schoenmaker really made his mark. She clocked 2: 18.95, setting the pace perfectly to beat Lilly King, who would eventually win silver. Schoenmaker broke the world record, taking it below 2:19, and by virtue of the world record it was also an Olympic record and an African record.



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