2018 World Male Swimmer of the Year: Kliment Kolesnikov, Russia
It was a true firework of a year for Russia’s Kliment Kolesnikov, who wraps up Swammy Awards season with not only the World Junior Swimmer of the Year and European Swimmer of the Year awards, but the overall World Male Swimmer of the Year honor as well.
Kolesnikov took full advantage of all the big-meet opportunities he had in the relatively unorthodox middle-of-the-quad year. In August, he carried three golds (two individual), two silver and a bronze medal at the European Championships in long course, setting a world record in the 50 back and a world junior record in the 100 back along the way. Then in October, the 18-year-old crushed the Youth Olympic Games to the tune of 6 golds and a silver (three of the golds individual). Finally, in December, Kolesnikov won two golds and seven total medals at the Short Course World Championships, including a surprise 100 IM win in a new world junior record.
For those keeping track at home, that’s 11 golds, 6 silvers and three bronzes over 2018, all in major international competitions.
Kolesnikov was one of just three men to set a long course world record in 2018, and his 24.00 50 backstroke bettered a super-suited 24.04 world record from the 2009 bodysuit era. He also finishes the year with the world’s top-ranked 50 back and third-ranked 100 back in long course meters. In short course meters, he ranks in the top 6 in both the 50 and 100 backs.
He holds all three world junior records in the long course backstrokes, setting two of the three in 2018. In short course, his versatility shows through even more impressive: Kolesnikov holds world junior records in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyles in addition to the 50, 100 and 200 backstrokes and the 100 IM.
In no particular order
- Adam Peaty, Great Britain: As we mentioned in our Euro Swimmer of the Year post, Peaty was a strong contender based on his continued historic dominance, but lagged behind Kolesnikov in year-long performance. Peaty was on fire at Euros, breaking his own 100 breast world record and winning the 50 breast by a country mile. However, he lost the 50 breast at Commonwealths and didn’t swim Short Course Worlds, cutting down his opportunities to match Kolesnikov’s full-year resume.
- Ryan Murphy, USA: Murphy makes a strong case based on a backstroke sweep at the Pan Pacific Championships as well as the world’s top long course 100 back time. Murphy ranks #2 worldwide in all three short course backstrokes as well as the long course 200 back, and third worldwide in the long course 50 back. But Murphy, unlike the other two names on this list, didn’t set a world record (though he was close in the long course 100 back).