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2017 Swammy Awards European Male Swimmer of the Year: Adam Peaty, Great Britain
There was only 1 European male swimmer who won more than 1 individual event at the 2017 World Aquatics Championships. There was only 1 long course World Record set by a European male in 2017. That made the 2017 Swammy Award for European Male Swimmer of the year a slam-dunk for British breaststroke Adam Peaty.
This marks the 2nd-straight European Swimmer of the Year Award for Peaty, which goes with his overall Swimmer of the Year award in 2015.
Peaty won both the 50 and 100 breaststrokes at this summer’s World Championships. He started with a new Championship Record in the 100 breaststroke in 57.45, and followed that up by swimming to a new World Record of 25.95 in the semi-finals of the 50 breaststroke. He become the first man to break-through the 26-second barrier in the race, and followed it up with another sub-26 second swim with a 25.99 to win gold.
Peaty is well-established as the best long course breaststroker in the world – as of posting, he has the 11 fastest 100 long course meter breaststrokers in history. What was really exciting for Peaty was the development of his short course swimming. At the European Short Course Champioinships, he won the 100 breaststroke and broke the European Record in 55.94. That’s the 2nd-best performance in history. Peaty’s one Achilles heel has always been his starts and turns. He got his starts worked out in Rio, and now has made enough progress on his turns to be the best in the world (right now) in short course as well.
Peaty still hasn’t taken on much in the 200 breaststroke. He only swam the race once in 2017 – at the European Short Course Championships – where he swam a lifetime best of 2:07.34. He opened in a sprinter’s 58.47, but closed in a 1:08.87 to finish 13th in prelims.
Even without the 200 in his repertoire, he’s still staking a claim to the best male breaststroker in history. He’s still got some thing to accomplish to catch Kosuke Kitajima and his 4 individual breaststroke Olympic golds in terms of resume, but he’s already just the 3rd man to repeat as the World Champion in the 100, the first to win back-to-back in the 50, and has brought the record in the 100 long course breaststroke down consecutively by 1.3 seconds across 3 swims. The last swimmer to consecutively impact the record by that amount was John Hencken, who from 1973 to 1976 improved the record from 1:04.94 (Nobutaka Taguchi) to 1:03.11.
Next season, Peaty will have the chance to add another feather to his long course cap. He’s won gold in both the 50 and 100 at the World Championships, European Championships, and in the 100 at the Olympic Games. At the last Commonwealth Games in 2014, however, he won the 100 but placed 2nd in the 50 breaststroke – behind his self-proclaimed idol Cameron van der Burgh (who holds the short course World Records). That’s the lone long course mountain he has yet to climb in his primary events.
(in no particular order)
- Kliment Kolesnikov, Russia – This is Kolesnikov’s 3rd recognition in this year’s edition of the Swammy Awards. He’s previously won the International Male Junior of the Year, and was an honorable mention for Breakout Swimmer of the Year. On scale of Europe, while Kolesnikov didn’t medal at the World Championships (his best finish was 4th in the 200 back), he was the best male swimmer at the European Championships, and that can’t be overlooked, even in short course. He won 4 gold medals and 1 silver at the meet, and was part of a World Record setting 200 medley relay. A week later, in St. Petersburg, he broke the World Record in the 100 short course meters backstroke to finish off a meteoric rise.
- Anton Chupkov, Russia – The Russian men had a very good year, and a number of them could’ve been honorable mentions for this award, but Chupkov gets our nod, even without swimming at the European Championships (another meet where nobody, aside from Kolesnikov, won multiple individual gold in the men’s tally). He still came away with the 4th-fastest 200 time in the world in short course meters so far this season. At Worlds, he won gold in the 200 breaststroke in a new European Record of 2:06.96 – the 2nd-best swim in history, making him just the 2nd man ever under 2:07 in the event.
- Gabriele Detti, Italy – Another swimmer who gets a nod in spite of no European Championships, which he missed while dealing with an injury. Detti won the gold medal in the 800 free at the World Championships and in the process broke a European Record. That win takes on more weight and sets a bar now that the 800 free is an Olympic event for men. He also finished 4th in the 1500 free and 3rd in the 400 free.