2018 U.S. MALE SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: RYAN MURPHY
Olympic gold medalist Ryan Murphy came back with a vengeance in 2018 after falling short of his bests in Budapest. Murphy swept the backstroke races at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships, breaking the Meet Record in both backstroke events to take gold. In the 100 back, his 51.94 was just a tenth shy of his own World Record and tied for the 3rd fastest performance in history. Murphy won the 200 back with a lifetime best 1:53.57, faster than the time he swam to win Olympic gold in Rio.
He continued his success through the short course season as he competed at the 2018 Short Course World Championships. Murphy came away with 3 golds and 6 total medals. Individually, he won gold in the 100 back. He took silver in both the 50 back and 200 back, setting a 50 back American Record in the process. Murphy helped the USA to gold in the men’s 400 medley relay and mixed 200 medley relay. He was also a part of the 2nd place men’s 200 medley relay squad that set an American Record.
In no particular order
- Michael Andrew– Among Andrew’s 2018 accomplishments were 4 U.S. national titles. Andrew cemented his spot at 2019 Worlds as he won the 50 fly and 50 breast there. He also came out on top in the 50 free, ahead of 2017 World Champion Dressel, and 100 breast. He went on to secure more events at Worlds with his Pan Pacs performance, where he won the 50 free. Andrew also helped the USA to Pan Pacs bronze in the mixed 400 medley relay. During the World Cup series, Andrew set short course American Records in the 50 breast and 50 fly. He was also a member of the World Record-setting mixed 200 medley relay at Short Course Worlds.
- Caeleb Dressel– Dressel had an incredible NCAA performance in 2018, crushing barriers with American Records as he won titles in the 50 free, 100 free, and 100 fly. He also set American Records in the 200 IM and 100 breast (which has since been broken by Ian Finnerty) at the SEC Championships. Dressel was the 2018 Pan Pacs champion in the 100 fly and won 4 additional medals including 400 medley relay gold, 50 free silver, 100 free silver, and mixed 400 medley relay bronze. Dressel is the 2018 short course World Champion in the 100 free, having set the American Record. He also set the American Record to take silver in the 50 free. Like Andrew, Dressel was a member of the World Record-setting mixed 200 medley relay. He also earned medals in the 200 free relay (gold), 400 free relay (gold), 400 medley relay (gold), 200 mixed free relay (gold), 100 fly (silver), and 200 medley relay (silver).
- Chase Kalisz– Kalisz, the 2017 World Champion in both IM events, swept the IMs at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships. He was head and shoulders above the field as he dominated the 400 IM by over 3 seconds. His 200 IM was a personal best as he earned gold in 1:55.40.
- Jordan Wilimovsky– Wilimovsky’s brightest Olympic future is probably as an open water swimmer, but he proved again this summer that he doesn’t have to be limited to the lakes and oceas. At the 2018 Pan Pac Championships, he swept the two longest races on the schedule, the 10km open water swim and the 1500 free, and also added a silver in the 800 free. He’s still a few seconds from contending for medals in the 1500 in Tokyo, but the possibility for an Ous Mellouli-esque open water/pool double is within reach.