2015 Female European Swimmer of the Year: Katinka Hosszu
Katinka Hosszu cemented her status as one of the world’s elite swimmers in 2015. Sure, the 26 year old made her Olympic debut at just 15 years old in Athens, and has been a world record holder since 2013, but 2015 was a year unlike any other. She dominated her European competitors frequently and consistently.
The most shocking thing about Hosszu’s six gold performance (all individual) at the most recent European Short Course Championship in Netanya was how unsurprising it was. After all, Hosszu owns world records in five out of six races and was the top Euro finisher at last year’s Worlds in the other.
One could argue that Hosszu is also a game-changer for world swimming and it’s marketability. Hosszu’s success is much more comparable than a traditional swimmer to professional athletes. If she is at a competition, you can expect that she will perform at a high level.
Hosszu has also played her short course dominance and ability to perform week after week to huge winnings in the World Cup, where she won for the fourth consecutive year. While many American spectators have turned their eyes to age group phenom Michael Andrew as “the next Phelps”, what if the more appropriate role model for young Andrew is Hosszu?
What made 2015 a special year for Hosszu was more than consistency. She set bars for performance at the highest level. Hosszu broke world long course records in the 200 IM (where she won by an insane 2+ seconds), as well as short course records in 100 IM and 400 IM.
Going into the 2016 Olympics, Hosszu is the odds on favorite in both medleys, as well as a legitimate medal threat in both backstroke races. While her performances don’t reach the jaw dropping level of Kate Ledecky, one could make an argument for Hosszu as world’s best due to her versatility across multiple strokes.
In no particular order
Sarah Sjostrom– The Swedish star has been swimming at a high level since a similar age as Hosszu, and had nearly as good a year. She won double gold in Kazan (50/100 fly) and set a jaw dropping world record in the 100 butterfly long course (55.64).
- Viktoria Gunes– The former Ukranian, now Turkish swimmer had a huge breakout at the World Junior Championships. She may yet win this award in the near future, if she can capitalize on the potential that saw her nearly break the world record in the 200 breaststroke (2:19.64). She would later add a Junior world record in the 200 IM. Think of Gunes as a younger version of Sjostrom and Hosszu.