2017 AFRICAN FEMALE SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: Farida Osman, Egypt
Egyptian swimmer Farida Osman finished off her NCAA career in March with her 1st career NCAA title, winning the 100 fly in 50.05. That swim made her the 3rd-best performer in the history of the event, behind only Kelsi Worrell (49.43) and 12-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin (50.01).
That was just a warmup for the start of Osman’s post-graduate professional career, which included taking a bronze in the 50 fly for Egypt’s first-ever Swimming World Championships medal. Her 25.39 broke both the National and African records in the event, as did her 9th-place 24.62 in the 50 free.
She swam 4 total races at the World Championships: taking 25th in the 100 free (55.52) and 17th in the 100 fly (58.67). Neither of those swims were lifetime bests, but with now a full season to focus on long course training (the big international meet for Egypt will be the African Swimming Championships), she should be able to hold form for a bigger event schedule.
A recent run of success has spurred along men’s swimming in Egypt – they sent 9 individual swimmers, plus all 3 relays, to Worlds and broke 7 Egyptian Records in the process. The cultural barriers for female Egyptian swimmers are much more complicated, but there is a little bit of a spark form Hania Moro – a 21-year old who swam 4:19 in the 400 and 8:53 in the 800 in Santa Clara in June. If Osman can find a way on to an Olympic podium in Tokyo, that might be enough to spark some real movement in women’s swimming in Egypt.
Osman has been named the African Female Swimmer of the Year in 4 of the 5 years that it’s been awarded. The only exception is 2014, where Karin Prinsloo won the honor.
In no particular order
- Rebecca Meder, South Africa – In 2017, after a woman-less Olympic swimming team, South Africa softened their standards and filled up their roster for Worlds. The 14-year old Meder wasn’t part of that group, but at the World Championship trials, she won the 200 IM (2:16.24), the 400 IM (4:48.49), the 200 free (2:02.94), the 800 free (8:49.49), and the 1500 free (16:49.77). A few months later, at the short course national championships, she won 5 events as well – the 200, 400, and 800 freestyles, plus the 200 and 400 IMs. She finished in the top 8 in 3 events at the World Junior Championships, including as high as 5th in the 1500 free. Disappointingly, she didn’t race at this week’s Commonwealth Games trials (though her older sister did), but there are a few other young swimmers who have popped up there – including 15-year old Dune Coetzee, who won the 200 free (2:02.68), 400 free (4:14.53), and 200 fly (2:12.52). South Africa has a powerful group of teenage female swimmers in their stable right now, but they need to figure out how to push them past the finish line on the international stage – which has been a challenge for a generation of South African women.
- Erin Gallagher, South Africa – The 18-year old Gallagher has become a force of South African swimming. The sprinter won the 50 free, 50 fly, 50 back, 100 free, and 100 fly at South Africa’s Commonwealth Games Trials over the last week. She won 3 of those same events (50 free, 50 fly, 100 free) at the country’s World Championship Trials in April. She was just 24th and 34th in her two events at Worlds, the 100 free and 50 fly, but easily undercut both of those times over the last week. If her drops continue as they have over the last year, she could contend for a medal at next summer’s Commonwealth Games.