Swimming is a year-round sport.
That might seem like an obvious statement to the SwimSwam reader base, who follows swimming with us non-stop around the calendar. But it’s worth remembering that there might not be any sport under the sun that bears the “year-round” tag more truthfully than competitive swimming, at least in a training sense.
The 2013 Female Swimmer of the Year Swammy goes to a swimmer who fully embodies that year-round mentality and has successfully built that into competition, putting together one of the busiest – and most dominating – start-to-finish calendar years of all time.
In 2013, Katinka Hosszu started and never stopped. She competed everywhere. World Championships. Short-course Euros. World Cup events across the globe. The Salnikov Cup. The Indian Ocean Championships. Everywhere she went, Hosszu arrived like a freight train, swimming nearly every event she could get her hands on and winning a fair number of them.
By December, her 2013 campaign started to develop a sort of mythical aura about it – a Hungarian machine who could swim anything, anywhere, anytime, and seemed incapable of feeling tired.
She was already honored as our Swammy Award-winner for Female European Swimmer of the Year, and you can read another glowing recollection of her high points in that story.
The short version goes something like this: double gold medals at World Championships. A gold and a pair of silvers at Euros in the midst of a grueling event schedule. 24 golds and 6 world records during her rampage through the World Cup series.
Then there’s the cash. The Iron Lady spent 2013 charging without looking back, and was rewarded handsomely in the financial department for her perseverance. Her total World Cup earnings were $365,500 over 8 meets where she swam ridiculously full line-ups in every city.
The best representation of Hosszu’s 2013 might have been her last meet, the Indian Ocean Championships. Hosszu swam 17 races in three days, averaging one A final every 12 and a half minutes through the middle of the meet.
Oh, and she won 15 of those races. The only two she couldn’t take were the 50 and 100 breaststrokes, where she was up against breaststroke World record-holder Yulia Efimova and had to settle for second. Those 15 gold medals represent one of the biggest medal hauls in an international meet we’ve ever seen – a testament to nearly superhuman endurance and the willingness to test physical limits time and time again that will forever be remembered as the hallmarks of Katinka Hosszu’s 2013 campaign.
- Katie Ledecky, USA: the 16-year-old distance phenom smashed (not just broke, but hulk-smashed) World Records in the 800 and 1500 frees, became the second woman ever under 4 minutes in the 400 free and crushed the American Record in the 1650 free, leading to a lengthy “Is she better than Janet Evans?” debate. Anytime a distance swimmer gets mentioned in the same sentence as Janet Evans, she’s doing something right.
- Missy Franklin, USA: Another young star, Franklin took home 6 gold medals at the World Championships, an unprecedented number on the women’s side. Add to that Phelpsian feat (are we using that as an adjective now? I sure am) the fact that Franklin was both the best high school swimmer in the nation and perhaps the best college swimmer in the U.S. all within the same calendar year, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a Swimmer of the Year candidate.
- Mireia Belmonte-Garcia, Spain: short-course meters World Records in the 400, 800 and 1500 frees, plus a big head-to-head win over Ledecky (albeit a sick Ledecky) at Dual in the Pool.
- Yulia Efimova, Russia: Won two golds and a silver at Worlds in the breaststroke events, four golds and a silver at Euros and set world records in the short-course 50 and 200 breast. She might be the most dangerous breaststroker on the planet moving forward in what’s become a dogfight of an event at the international level.
- Ruta Meilutyte, Lithuania: Broke World Records in the 50 and 100 breast at Worlds, taking home the gold medal in the 100 at just 16 years of age. She also broke the short-course 100 breast record.
- Rikke Moller Pedersen, Denmark: Broke a World Record of her own in the 200 breast to become the final piece of the three-headed breaststroke monster awaiting former World Record-holder Rebecca Soni when she returns to competition.