2018 Swammy Awards: World Male Swimmer of the Year Kliment Kolesnikov

To see all of our 2018 Swammy Awards presented by TYR, click here. 

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).

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3 years ago

This I agree with.. not being a big medals year. Kudos to kliment! Womens…. much harder to decide

3 years ago

ummmm…if he is not awarded for 2018, he may not even have a chance in 2019….

just a joke. what is not a joke is he had a stellar year. It is for sure a dark cloud loom over Russian athletes’ head with nationwide doping scandal. I am not a fan of doper, but for now, he has not been tested positive… so let’s enjoy watching him race.

PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
3 years ago

Giving athlete of the year to an athlete that doesn’t have the top time in the world in any LCM Olympic event is an interesting choice. If the Olympics were last year, and everyone swam the same best times at the games, he would have won 1 individual bronze medal and 1 relay silver medal (that would have been bronze had the US not swam out of order).

Reply to  PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
3 years ago

But the Olympics were not last year, and he made most out of the international competitios he attanded. Swimming is not only about the Olympics, especially if its not an Olympic year.

Also based on what you said they should award the Olympic gold to the swimmer who swam a world best time in an Olympic year. Give Phelps’ 200 fly gold from Rio to Cseh, Chalmers’ gold to McEvoy, and so on.. thats not how it works

Reply to  PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
3 years ago

unfortunately, swimming doesn’t work that way (comparing best time throughout a year)… thus always this debate of whether best time or medal counts more. Some would argue if one won an Olympic gold but the time was not fastest of that year, it is still better than having the best time of that year but missed Olympic gold.

In a year without a major world meet like LCM World Championships or Olympics, what counts more? Many here had kind of look down on winning bunch of medals with “less” competition (like winning titles in World Cup). But one should not deny that racing in that many meets require a lot of physical and mental strength to do so at… Read more »

Reply to  Jared Anderson
3 years ago

No, unless the US is found to be conducting state-sponsored doping. Ultimately the RF’s actions taint their athletes, because how do you trust that the ones who test clean are actually clean? Maybe I shouldn’t watch Icarus before awards season 🙂

Honest Observer
3 years ago

The two commenters above make a valid point about suspicion of any Russian athlete, given the behavior of RUSADA. But that said, SwimSwam has to be like a court of law in making these judgments, and assume innocence until guilt is proven. Otherwise they’d be indulging in all sorts of speculation, and have to make all sorts of judgment calls where they might be wrong. And they’d be opening themselves up to legal liability as well. So, really, what choice do they have?

There have been plenty of individual Olympic champions who were pretty obviously doping, but unless they’re actually caught, the gold medal is theirs. For better or worse — I guess worse — that’s just the way… Read more »

Reply to  Jared Anderson
3 years ago

you think that your annual awards count as “news section”?

Coach John
Reply to  eagleswim
3 years ago

most news organizations hand out annual awards….

Reply to  Coach John
3 years ago

Of course, and I love that they hand out the awards. It’s just funny that he’s making a claim about “news section” vs “editorial section” when things like annual awards handed out by swimswam staff would seem to fall firmly into the latter.

Reply to  Honest Observer
3 years ago

It is actually not swimswam’s job to be a court of law its job is to report news. While I do agree with the suspicion this is not a website for investigative journalism.

3 years ago

If the kid really is clean he needs to be very outspoken about having Russia’s ADA to come out in the open, his legacy will depend on it

3 years ago

These days it seems like every other article is praising Kolesnikov or scrutinizing RUSADA. I’m not saying he’s definitely doping, but Swimswam you are definitely asking for susupicion.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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