2019 CENTRAL AMERICAN & CARIBBEAN MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Ricardo Vargas, Mexico
2019 was a banner year for Mexico at the Pan American Games hosted in Lima, Peru. After winning 0 medals at the 2015 Pan American Games, Mexico won 6, all bronze medals, which is their 2nd-best effort ever, behind only the 1971 Games in Cali, where they won 7.
5 of those medals came in men’s events, and the 6th came in a mixed medley relay, with the effort led by distance freestyler Ricardo Vargas. He took bronze medals in both the 800 (7:56.78) and 1500 (15:14.99) freestyles, including a new Mexican Record in the 800 free. The country sent only a bare-bones roster to the World Championships, which did not include Vargas, making the Pan American Games their focus event.
Vargas also took a 3rd bronze medal as a member of Mexico’s 800 free relay, anchoring the relay to a National Record (albeit in the team’s slowest split).
Vargas is the 2nd swimmer from Mexico to win this award all-time.
- Dylan Carter, Trinidad & Tobago: Trinidad & Tobago’s Dylan Carter, last year’s winner, didn’t have the same medal haul as he did in 2018, but he still managed a bronze medal in the 100 back at the Pan American Games: his first Pan American Games medal. That came after finishing 16th in that race at the World Championships, 12th in the 100 free, and 13th in the 50 fly. Carter broke long course Trinidad & Tobago records in 2019 in the 100 free (48.52), 200 free (1:47.71), 100 back (54.03), and 100 fly (52.64).
- Luis Martinez, Guatemala: Martinez scored a silver medal in the 100 fly, his country’s only medal in swimming, at the 2019 Pan American Games, in a time of 51.63. Like Vargas, he didn’t swim at the World Championships. Besides a National Record in the 100 fly in 50.44 at the Canadian Trials, he also broke Guatemalan long course records in 2019 in the 100 free (50.79) and 200 fly (1:59.48).
- 2014 – George Bovell, Trinidad & Tobago
- 2015 – (Vacant – combined South American & CAC Award, Thiago Pereira of Brazil won)
- 2016 – Marcelo Acosta, El Salvador
- 2017 – Mauro Castillo-Luna, Mexico
- 2018 – Dylan Carter, Trinidad & Tobago
- 2019 – Ricardo Vargas, Mexico