2018 South American Female Swimmer of the Year: Julia Sebastian, Argentina
While Brazil is regarded as top-of-the-pile in South American swimming, and for good reason as they’ve won 13 of the continent’s 18 Olympic medals in swimming (or 19, depending on whether you consider Trinidad & Tobago a part of South America or not).
But Argentina, the continent’s #2 based on Olympic medals, had a banner year in the pool. Of the 10 women’s South American Records broken in 2018, 3 came from Argentine women. 1 was by Delfina Pignatiello in the 1500 free, and the other two came at the hands of Julia Sebastian.
Sebastian got the 200 breaststroke record in short course at the Jose Finkel Trophy in August, swimming 2:21.31, and earlier in the summer clipped the long cocurse record, swimming a 2:24.41 at Mare Nostsrum. That makes her the only South American woman to break a long course continental record in 2018. She even showed up at Brazil’s National Championship meet, the Maria Lenk Trophy, and took the meet title in the 200 breast in 2:27.29.
She added international medals via 2 silvers and a gold in the breaststroke events at the South American Championships. In the 100, she lost only to teammate Macarena Ceballos (by .18 seconds), but then in the 200, Sebastian broke the Meet Record and won by almost 5 seconds in one of the most dominant swims of the meet. In total, the Argentina women won 11 out of 20 possible gold medals at those South American Championships.
In no particular order
- Larissa Oliveira and Jhennifer Conceicao of Brazil joined Sebastian as the only women to break South American Records in multiple records this year. Oliveira got the 100 free (52.45) and 200 free (1:54.50) at Jose Finkel, which brings her up to 12 total records (including relays). Conceicao got the 50 (30.00) and 100 (1:05.69). breaststroke records at Jose Finkel. All of the above were in short course meters.
- Daynara de Paula of Brazil won 7 gold and 1 silver medal at the 2018 South American Swimming Championships in the sprint freestyle and butterfly events, plus relays.
- Delfina Pignatiello of Argentina won 4 golds and 2 silvers at the South American Championships. She and de Paula had the same number of individual medals (3 gold + 1 silver), though as a distance swimmer Pignatiello didn’t have nearly as many relay opportunities.