2019 ASIAN MALE SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: DAIYA SETO (JAPAN)
Until the 2019 FINA World Championships, the USA had won 9 straight Worlds golds in the men’s 200 IM. That streak ended last summer at the hands of Japan’s Daiya Seto. Seto earned his spot for the Tokyo 2020 Games as he won the race, dropping half a second in the process (1:56.14). With that, he won his first major international long course gold since 2015.
His last Worlds gold had come in the 400 IM, as Seto won back-to-back titles in that event in 2013 and 2015. He returned to the top of the podium in that event as well in 2019. With that, he gave Japan 2 golds. They had previously won zero golds in 2017. Seto also became the first Japanese man to ever sweep the IM events at a long course Worlds.
Seto is now a big threat for gold in the IMs in 2020, even with Japan’s 2016 Olympic Champion in the 400 IM, Kosuke Hagino, recommitting to the sport. He’s continued to have success this year in the ISL. Seto took down Ryan Lochte’s former 9-year-old World Record in the 400 IM (SCM) in the ISL Finale. He swept the IMs there as well, posting the 4th fastest 200 IM in history and taking down the U.S. Open Record by over 2 seconds.
This is Seto’s 2nd-straight Asian Male Swimmer of the Year Swammy Award, which is stunning given how much better he was in 2019 even than his own 2018 self. His trajectory headed toward a home Olympics in Tokyo in 2020 is limitless.
In no particular order
- Yan Zibei (CHN)- At 2019 Worlds, Zibei took down the Asian Record in the 100 breast, earning a bronze medal in the process. He also set the Asian Record in the 50 breast in both prelims and semis.
- Sun Yang (CHN)- Sun earned his 4th-straight Worlds title in the 400 free, giving him his 5th Worlds medal of his career in the event. He then won the 200 free, giving him back-to-back titles in that race and his 3rd career Worlds medal in the 200 free.