2019 EUROPEAN FEMALE SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: KATINKA HOSSZU
Katinka Hosszu made her Olympic debut at the 2004 Athens games where she finished 31st in the 200 freestyle. Since then, she has evolved into one of the most successful and decorated athletes that the sport of swimming has ever seen. The Hungary native has swam at 4 Olympic Games, 8 long course World Championships and seven European Championships, picking up dozens of medals along the way. Arguably her best major international performance to date was back in 2016 in Rio when she won gold in the 100 back, 200 IM and 400 IM, and took silver in the 200 back. Having been dominant on the international swim scene for almost this whole decade, Hosszu was awarded this same award in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and was an honourable mention to Sarah Sjostrom‘s victories in 2017 and 2018. Hosszu also won the Swammy for World Swimmer of the Year in 2013. In 2019, Hosszu had stellar performances at several competitions making her a deserving candidate for this award.
Hosszu is one of many elite athletes to make appearances at all seven stops of the 2019 FINA World Cup series and had an exceptional winning streak throughout. Hosszu was the only swimmer to complete three perfect sweeps at the series when she won the 200 butterfly, 200 IM and 400 IM at each of the meets. She also won the 100 backstroke in Jinan and the 100 butterfly in Doha. This gave Hosszu a total of 312 points throughout the whole series, placing her second only to Australia’s Cate Campbell with 357 points. Hosszu won her record breaking 300th World Cup medal with her 200 fly victory in Kazan.
At the 2019 long course World Champs, Hosszu became the first ever woman to 4-peat a single event when she won the 200 IM, having taken gold at 2013, 2015 and 2017. Hosszu won the race by over a second, getting to the wall in a 2:07.53, Ye Shiwen’s 2:08.60 and Sydney Pickrem’s 2:08.70 for silver and bronze, respectively. After a disappointing eighth place finish in the 200 back, she came back to win the 400 IM in 4:30.39. The 400 IM win gave her her 5th WC title in that event after winning in 2009, 2013, 2015 and 2017.
Katinka Hosszu‘s unmatched dominance in the pool has resulted in her being dubbed swimming’s “Iron Lady” and she has carried that branding into the newly minted International Swimming League. Hosszu’s Team Iron included international stars such as Vladimir Morozov, Alia Atkinson and Ranomi Kromowidjojo. The International Swimming League caters well to Hosszu’s ability to swim many events with quick turn around, as well as her well developed back/fly/IM versatility. Competing at all three of Iron’s competitions in the inaugural season, Hosszu won the 200 fly, 200 IM and 400 IM at the Lewisville, Budapest and London stops.
In front of a home audience in Budapest, Hosszu became the first non-skins winner to earn the MVP title, scoring a total of 47 points by swimming the 200 fly (1st), 200 IM(1st), 400 IM(1st), 200 back(2nd), 200 free(3rd), 100 back(4th) and 400 medley relay(5th). Hosszu’s ISL season concluded with the European Derby in London where she lead Team Iron to a third place finish.
Hosszu closed out 2019 with 100 IM, 200 IM, 400 IM and 200 fly victories at 2019 Short Course Euros. Her four victories brought her to a total of 20 golds across the 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019 instalments of the meet. This feat made her the winningest female swimmer in the meet’s history, breaking Slovakian swimming icon Maria Moravcová’s previous record of 19.
Going into 2020, Hosszu retains her six world records (SC/LC 200 IM, SC 100 back, SC 200 back, SC 100 IM, LC 400 IM) and has an opportunity to defend three Olympic titles this summer in Tokyo.
This is the 4th time that Hosszu has won this award – the most of any swimmer.
In no particular order
- Simona Quadarella: Italian distance star, Simona Quadrella had a killer 2019, knocking down two Italian national records on the way to silver in the 800 free and gold in 1500 at the 2019 World Swimming Championships. Her 15:40.89 1500 allowed her to beat out silver medalist Sarah Kohler of Germany by nearly 8 seconds. Quadrella went on to pick up two more gold medals at the 2019 SC European Championships, this time in the 400 free and the 800 free. Quadrella was the only woman in the field to crack the 4 minute mark with a 3:59.75.
- Sarah Sjostrom: Winner of this award in 2017 and 2018, Sarah Sjostrom picked up five individual medals at 2019 World Champs. Sjostrom claimed gold in the 50 fly, silver in the 100 fly and 50 free and bronze in the 100 free and 200 free, Sjostrom to win her 14th – 17th total World Champs medals. Sjostrom quickly transitioned into the short course season this fall, taking the International Swimming League by storm. The Energy Standard star picked up 12 wins this season and topped the total MVP standings after the finale in Vegas.
- Kira Toussaint: After having her name cleared following a false positive drug test in late 2018, Toussaint didn’t let any prior negativity stop her from having a record breaking 2019. Between the Martinez Cup in Amsterdam and several ISL performances for team Iron, Toussaint broke Dutch records 9 times in the sprint backstrokes in a span of two months. Toussaint was also 5th in total point standings at the 2019 Fina World Cup series, despite only appearing at 4 of the 7 competitions. To cap off her year Toussaint picked up gold in the 50 back, 100 back and women’s 4×50 freestyle, silver in the mixed 4×50 medley and bronze in the 200 backstroke at 2019 Short Course Euros.