To see all of the 2014 Swammy Award winners, presented by TYR, click here.
2014 Honoree: Adam Peaty, Great Britain
Only a single men’s world record went down this past year in the long course pool, and one year ago, almost no one would have predicted which swimmer would be the one to break it.
A year ago, Adam Peaty was a major newcomer on the international swimming scene. He finaled at the 2012 European Junior Championships in the 200 breast, and also competed at the 2013 Short Course European Championships. For an international resume, that was it.
In 2014, Peaty changed that script in a big way. The 19-year-old launched onto the scene in April, winning his first national title with a 27.43 in the long course 50 breaststroke at the British Gas Swimming Championships. Peaty also took silver in both the 100 and 200.
Winning ones first national title would be considered a pretty good stepping stone for a lot of swimmers. But Peaty was barely getting started.
At the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Peaty officially announced his arrival on the international scene, upsetting World Record-holder Cameron van der Burgh in the 100 breast and breaking the European Record in the 50. Peaty took silver in that race behind van der Burgh, and was just a tenth off the South African’s World Record.
Again, the makings of a solid all-around season. But Peaty still wasn’t done. At the European Championships, he came up with his best performances yet, taking gold in the 100 breast and smashing the World Record in semifinals of the 50. He would go on to win gold in that race as well.
Maybe the best illustration of Peaty’s meteoric rise this season is to look at his time progressions over the past few years. They’ve been outstanding – at the British Championships in 2012, Peaty was just 1:02.72 in the 100 and 2:15.68 in the 200.
Peaty’s times at major meets since 2010, per the British Swimming website:
- 2010: 1:08.19 (British Championships)
- 2011: 1:04.73 (British Championships)
- 2012: 1:02.72 (British Championships)
- 2013: 1:00.11 (British Championships)
- 2014: 59.79(British Championships)
- 2014: 58.94 (Commonwealth Games)
- 2014: 58.68 (European Championships)
Peaty ended off his season at the Short Course World Championships in Doha, where he earned silver medals in both the 50 and 100 breast. Those results feel pretty run-of-the-mill after his great Commonwealth/European Champs performances, and that tells you just how great a season Peaty had. For a swimmer to win double individual gold at his first-ever World Championships, and have that performance be arguably only his third-best of the year? That’s what you call a breakout season.
Keep an eye on Peaty, who turns 20 later this month, as he’s fast become one of the world’s most dangerous breaststrokers with less than two years to go before the Rio Olympics.
- Dimitry Balandin, Kazakhstan – our first honorable mention is another fast-rising 19-year-old breaststroker, Dimitry Balandin. Balandin took Kazakh swimming to a whole new level this summer, winning the nation’s third-ever medal at the Asian Games while dropping 6 seconds in his 200 breast compared to his swim at the 2013 World Championships. Balandin is now just about a half-second off the World Record in an event that seems like anybody’s game.
- Gregorio Paltrinieri, Italy – Paltrinieri had already found some international success prior to this season, but 2014 was a true breakout year for him in that he earned his first World Title. Not only that, but Paltrinieri became just the 5th swimmer ever to break 14:40 in the long course 1500 free, and broke the European record in the process.
- Ning Zetao, China – Chinese swimming has been on the rise for awhile now, but has lacked a true powerhouse sprinter to complete its lineup. Ning looks to fit that bill to a “T,” though, after smashing the Asian record multiple times this fall, ending up with a 47.65 that tied him for 2nd in the world over the 2014 calendar year.