Stay tuned for our World Junior Male Swimmer of the Year later today.
2015 World Junior Female Swimmer of the Year Viktoria Zeynep Gunes
In a year full of world junior records and standout performances at the FINA Junior World Championships, there was really only one swimmer who could earn this award.
Turkey’s Viktoria Zeynep Gunes not only rose to the top of the world in junior swimming, she actually rose to the top of the senior level as well.
At the Junior World Championships in Singapore, Gunes blasted a 2:19.64 in the 200 breast – a time that not only obliterated the standing junior world record but blew out the top finishers from the FINA World Championships and even rattled the overall world record.
Gunes was just half a second off of the world record while chopping a full three second off the junior world record.
Gunes ultimately beat out world champ Kanako Watanabe‘s time by well over a second, and finished the 2014-2015 season ranked #1 worldwide for swimmers of all ages.
At the Junior World Champs in Singapore, Gunes was the only swimmer to entirely sweep gold medals in one stroke, winning the 50, 100 and 200 breaststrokes. She also won the 200 IM to earn Swimmer of the Meet honors.
Gunes, a Ukrainian ex-pat, is bringing Turkish swimming to a never-before-seen level – her four golds in Singapore were the nation’s first world-level gold medals in swimming. And if Gunes can keep up her rapid pace of improvement, she could be adding to Turkey’s world swimming resume in a big way next summer.
In no particular order:
Minna Atherton, Australia: Atherton came with in a hair of sweeping the backstroke races at the Junior World Championships, winning the 100 and 200 and taking silver in the 50 by just .02 seconds. Atherton also tied the junior world record in the 100 back there, beating then-record-holder Claire Adams of the U.S. And Atherton ultimately took sole possesion of the record over the weekend at the Queensland Championships in Australia.
- Taylor Ruck, Canada: Ruck was the breakout relay star of the Junior World Championships, dropping huge split after huge split while winning individual gold in the 100 and 200 frees. Ruck is hurt in this competition by not earning any junior world records, but she still has two years left to chase them and is only a tenth of a second off the 100 free mark.
- Daria Ustinova, Russia: The Russian star broke the world junior 200 back record at the Russian Championships way back in April, and also got some senior-level experience on the Russian team at the World Championships. Ustinova managed a semifinal appearance in the 50 back and highlighted her meet with a 4th place slot in the 200 back.
- Marrit Steenbergen, Netherlands: Though she didn’t break any junior world records, Dutch sprinter Marrit Steenbergen was one of the stars of the 2015 European Games, which swimming used as a juniors-only competition. Steenbergen rattled the junior world record with a 53.97 in the 100 free there, then jumped into the Netherlands’ crowded group of female sprinter to earn a World Champs silver medal in the 4×100 free relay and another silver in the Mixed 4×100 free relay.