2015 European Male Swimmer of the Year: Gregorio Paltrinieri
Though he’d already broken through at the international level before, 2015 was a year that took Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri to new heights.
When world record-holder Sun Yang failed to show up for the 1500 free final at the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia, Paltrinieri took full advantage, winning his first-ever long course international gold medal and breaking the European record with a 14:39.67.
Even with Sun in the pool in the 400, Paltrinieri put up a big fight, finishing with in a second of the Chinese sensation and breaking another European record in 7:40.81.
And though Paltrinieri wasn’t the most decorated European at Worlds (check out our honorable mentions for a hint at why this award didn’t go in that direction), he earns our European Swimmer of the Year Swammy for coming up with perhaps the defining swim of the Short Course European Championships.
Swimming in Netanya, Israel in the closing month of 2015, Paltrinieri took down the oldest world record on FINA’s books with his gold-medal 1500 free performance. Paltrinieri went 14:08.06, taking down a 14-year-old record set by Australian distance legend Grant Hackett.
Paltrinieri won that race by nearly 10 full seconds, underscoring just how dominant he was in the distance races over the year 2015.
In no particular order:
Adam Peaty, Great Britain: Peaty broke the only long course world records of the year on the men’s side (two of them), won double World Champs gold and cracked that hallowed 58-second barrier in the 100 breaststroke. One could certainly speculate that the only reason Peaty doesn’t take home this specific Swammy Award is that his biggest end-of-year SwimSwam award is yet to come…
- Florent Manaudou, France: Absurd consistency in the sprints had Manaudou putting up 21-second 50 frees on nearly a monthly basis. He won three golds at Worlds and garnered so many headlines that even swimming fans outside of Bobo Gigi started learning how to properly spell his last name.
- James Guy, Great Britain: With Peaty already well established, Guy was the new breakout star of British Swimming. His 200 free touchout of Sun Yang at the World Championships was a huge moment, and Guy added silver in the 400 free and gold in the 4×200 free relay to that individual 200 free gold to push Britain into the top 4 teams in the overall medal tally.
- Laszlo Cseh, Hungary: A voracious veteran, Cseh was easily the rangiest butterflyer in Kazan, winning one of each color in the medal tally – gold in the 200, silver in the 100 and bronze in the 50. Cseh also added a triple-gold short course European Championships late in the year, blowing out the field in the 100 fly, 200 fly and 200 IM. It could certainly turn out that Cseh, not Chad le Clos, is the biggest competition to the Michael Phelps comeback next summer.