2019 CANADIAN MALE SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: MARKUS THORMEYER
Markus Thormeyer continued his progression at the highest level of the sport in 2019, leading him to his second consecutive Canadian Male Swimmer of the Year Swammy award.
Thormeyer, 22, earned his first individual major international medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games with a bronze in the 100 backstroke, and followed that up this year with a personal best performance at the World Championships.
The native of Newmarket, Ont., who has lived and trained in British Columbia throughout his swimming career broke through in Gwangju by qualifying for the final of the men’s 200 back, doing so in a new Canadian Record time of 1:56.96 — breaking the 10-year-old super-suited mark of 1:57.34 from Matt Hawes.
What made that swim even more impressive was the fact that Thormeyer, who had placed 17th in the preliminaries, didn’t know he would be swimming in the semi-finals until less than 90 minutes before the session began (China’s Xu Jiayu was a late scratch).
He was the fifth-fastest swimmer in the semis, ultimately finishing eighth in the final. No other Canadian male made an individual final.
Prior to the World Championships, Thormeyer reset another decade-old National mark in the 100 back, clocking 53.35 at World Trials in April to erase Pascal Wollach’s 53.63 from 2009. Thormeyer ran the table at that competition in Toronto, winning all four of his individual events (100/200 free and back), closing out the year having gone a best time in all of them.
In addition to his 200 back swim, Thormeyer was 11th in the 100 back in Gwangju, 22nd in the 100 free, and led off Canada’s fourth-place mixed free relay.
To close out the year he had a strong showing competing for the NY Breakers in the International Swimming League, including breaking his own short course 200 back National Record in Budapest. It ended up being short-lived, however, as 17-year-old Cole Pratt lowered it less than two months later at the Ontario Junior International.
In no particular order.
- Mack Darragh — Darragh was the only other Canadian man who advanced out of the heats at the World Championships, placing 15th in the 200 butterfly prelims before moving up to 14th in the semis. The 26-year-old Mississauga, Ont., native narrowly missed his National Record in the event at World Trials in April in a time of 1:56.68, and also joined Thormeyer competing for the NY Breakers in the ISL.
- Yuri Kisil — The 2017 Swammy Award winner had a bit of an up and down campaign, due in part to relocating to Toronto from UBC late last year, but he showed flashes of his usual brilliance at the World Championships, including a pair of 47-high relay legs on the mixed medley where Canada ended up finishing fifth. The 24-year-old closed out the year strong in the ISL, proving to be a reliable relay asset for the London Roar.
- While they’re not quite there yet, the budding group of Canadian juniors appear well on their way to be contending for this award for years to come. Pratt’s National Record puts him in the conversation already, and then there’s Joshua Liendo, Gabe Mastromatteo, Finlay Knox who all took giant leaps forward in 2019.