2019 Swammy Awards: British Coach of the Year, Mel Marshall, Loughborough University
Project 56, Adam Peaty‘s famous drive to produce a flat-start 56-second 100 meter breaststroke, could never have come to fruition without his long-time coach, Mel Marshall. Furthermore, Peaty’s third gold medal of the 2019 World Championships which came by way of the 4 x 100 medley relay could not have happened without a breakthrough performance from Luke Greenbank, the backstroke lead-off, who produced backstroke times at the 2019 World Championships that Great Britain has desperately needed to truly make the Americans sweat.
Peaty’s 56.88 in the semifinals of the 100 breaststroke at the 2019 FINA World Championships was, in terms of margin of victory, the most dominant World Record set in the sport. Ever. But that’s a lot of math. Peaty added time in the finals to swim the fourth-fastest time ever, a 57.14, just 0.01 slower than his gold medal-winning time in Rio and just 0.04 slower than his 2018 European Championships-winning time, also the WR he downed in South Korea. Peaty also took the crown in the men’s 50 breaststroke in Gwangju in 26.06, fully 0.60 faster than second place.
Greenbank, meanwhile, picked up a bronze medal in the men’s 200 backstroke in South Korea, posting a 1:55.85. Greenbank’s lead-off split of the 4 x 100 medley relay clocked in at 53.95; Greenbank was also 53.95 exactly in the prelims of the men’s 100 backstroke and a 53.75 in the semifinals. Though Greenbank did not earn a berth in the finals of the 100 backstroke, his lead-off leg of the 4 x 100 medley relay, combined with Peaty (57.20), James Guy (50.81), and Duncan Scott (46.14), combined to produce a new European Record in the medley with a 3:28.10, bettering Germany’s time from the 2009 World Championships by nearly half-a-second. Greenbank kept up the momentum at the 2019 European Championships (SCM), where he produced two more British Records in the 200 backstroke en route to a 3rd-place finish in finals.
Sarah Vasey, another pupil of Marshall’s, placed 2nd in the 50 breaststroke at the 2019 World University Games. Vasey also placed 6th at WUGs in the 100 breaststroke in 1:07.84. At the 2019 Swim England National Championships (25m), Vasey posted a 1:05.42 in the 100 breaststroke for 2nd place. Vasey also competed for London Roar in the inaugural 2019 International Swimming League season, helping the Roar to a 2nd-place team finish in Las Vegas in December at the League Final.
In addition to the “traditional” accolades earned by Peaty, Greenbank, and Vasey, Marshall also captained the London Roar through the inaugural season of the International Swimming League. London Roar was dominant in their first two ISL meets and not particularly challenged until their final two meets where they encountered Energy Standard, who won the League Finals in Las Vegas in December. London Roar placed 2nd, ahead of American teams Cali Condors and the LA Current.
- Alan Bircher, Ellesmere College: Freya Anderson‘s accomplishments in 2019 probably didn’t quite garner the attention they deserved. At the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju, Anderson placed 8th in the 100 meter freestyle with a 53.31, making her the third-fastest Brit all-time in the event at only 18-years-old. Anderson also lowered the British Record in the 200 SCM freestyle at the recent 2019 European Championships, notching a 1:52.77. You can read more about Bircher’s development of Anderson and her ascent into the world’s elite performers here.
- Steven Tigg, University of Stirling: Duncan Scott was kind of a big deal in 2019. Not only did he re-define what it means to “get Lezak’d” during a 100 freestyle anchor leg at the 2019 FINA World Championships to make a comeback on Team USA and upset the stalwart 4 x 100 medley relay champions, but he also demonstrated incredible versatility with a slew of British Records in events ranging from the 100 and 200 freestyle (LCM) to the 200 and 400 IM (SCM), plus a Scottish Record in the 200 butterfly (SCM). What’s more, though Scott dropped that incredible 46.14 anchor leg on the end of the gold medal-winning medley relay in Gwangju, he scratched the 100 freestyle in favor of the 200 IM, where he placed 5th in 1:56.91 (just 0.27 off the British Record). Should Scott swim the 100 freestyle next summer in Tokyo instead of the 200 IM, current gold medal-favorites Caeleb Dressel (USA) and Kyle Chalmers (Australia) could have serious competition.
- 2018 – Steven Tigg