2013 Swammy Award: Female Swimmer of the Year Katinka Hosszu

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.

Honorable Mention:

  • 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.

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I’d go with Ledecky or Franklin before Hosszu. Hosszu accomplished a lot on the world cup cycle and kudos to her, but I’d focus more on World Champs more given that not everyone goes to the world cups and LCM is universal. SCY in USA can’t be compared to SCM of world cups. Golds at high level international competitions are more important to some swimmers than the money and attention. Congrats to Hosszu on an impressive year, but I think Franklin/Ledecky had the better year with LCM.

psych – any of the three would’ve been a defensible choice. Don’t forget, though, that Hosszu did win the 200 IM and 400 IM at Worlds, so she didn’t totally burn that meet either.

You just have a different philosophy than us. I think Jared made pretty clear at the outset that we wouldn’t base this award on a single meet.


True. Sorry – didn’t read the first couple paragraphs.


In addition, had Hosszu swim for USA she would have won at least one more gold in 4×200 free, and could be part of medley relay (swimming fly in prelims), and thus would have won two more golds.

bobo gigi

Are you serious with that choice? 😆
Katie Ledecky of course!

bobo gigi

Barcelona was the only place in the world last year where all the best swimmers swam.
You see who are the best swimmers at the world championships or at the olympic games.

Philip Johnson

Bobo, you’re keeping track aren’t you? How many races has Hosszu won this year?


Swimming is a year round sport, sure. It takes a year round commitment to succeed. However, the premise about numerous quality performances year round is predicated on the fact that it discriminates based upon training style/philosophy. Certain athletes are able to perform at or near peak many times during the year not only because they are great but because they have the opportunity. Opportunity being key. A Troy trained athlete like Lochte typically will not peak more than twice a year. He was never the guy to go on world jaunts on top form, instead he would toil away on the domestic grand prix circuit sometimes so worn out he would fall to the B final. Also, it discriminates against… Read more »

KeithM – we took the entire year as a whole and put it together. Next year, Missy Franklin will get her NCAA results thrown into the mix. While I agree with you that if it was Ledecky 4 golds/Franklin 6 golds and Hosszu 0 golds, it would be different. However, the number of World Records, the World Cup, and the fact that she ALSO won long course Worlds gold medals in both IM races was enough to put it over the top for us. If we’re just going to take the swimmer with the most gold medals every year, then there’s not really a point in giving the award. Again, it’s just a difference of philosophy. We’re tired of hearing… Read more »


My argument wasn’t based solely on golds in Barcelona. It was factors such as the quality of the performances, the competition, etc. I think just about everyone, including you and me, would place Ledecky and Franklin over Hosszu if just assessing World Championships. You believe that Hosszu’s exploits the rest of the year not only bridge that gap but create a legitimate argument that she surpasses them. I do not. When assessing the quality of performance I generally have three criteria: 1) Quality of the time 2) The level of competition in the other lanes. 3) The occasion/the stakes/the pressure. Hosszu’s racing outside the World Champions can in some cases meet the first criterion, but again short course swimming? Too… Read more »


“Again, it’s just a difference of philosophy. We’re tired of hearing people whine about how swimming gets ignored except for once every four years, and that only happens because swimming lets it happen.” How does “swimming” let it happen? I don’t think people in “swimming” have the actual solution yet for us to be slamming the inability to implement it, whatever it might be. Simply scheduling meets throughout the year will not increase outside interest. It will not make Joe Public care. I would question whether the world cup series is really the answer. A concept like Duel in the Pool (and other dual meets) probably has more potential to make some of them care. The only sport comparable is… Read more »


I know this will drive the purists nuts, but not every swimmer has to be judged by a set formula. Top athlete at the 2008 Summer Olympics: Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps? People will argue about it all day, and there’s no obvious answer. Bolt has only one specialty, but was unprecedentedly amazing in one of the most widely-participated athletic events. Phelps had multiple specialties, and was unprecedented because he managed to beat all competitors across so many disciplines at the same time. I have to agree with the Hosszu pick, although Ledecky’s 1500 was my individual performance of the year. Swimmer of the Year doesn’t have to be calculated by a formula of World Champ medals, # of WRs,… Read more »


I just want to opine that I agree with the choice. Compared to either Franklin or Ledecky Katinka has one fewer individual gold medal and fewer world records than Ledecky. However she won 24 events on the world cup tour. Is sweeping 8/8 in the 200 IM worth a world championship title? No, probably. But is 24 titles in some 6 events worth the difference between a gold and a bronze? Sure Ledecky also set LC world records. I will not pretend that sc WRs are better or harder, but setting SIX of them has to be equally as impressive as 2 in LC. Add that to generally dominating meet after meet in a way that’s never been seen before…Katinka… Read more »

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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