2019 FEMALE SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: REGAN SMITH (USA)
The 2019 FINA World Championships in Gwangju saw U.S. teen star Regan Smith win her first career Worlds title. On top of that, she set 2 individual World Records at the meet despite swimming only the 200 back individually.
She took her first World Record down in the 200 back semifinals. Smith became the first woman to break 2:04 and erased the former mark by Olympic champion Missy Franklin. Though she didn’t match her record in the final, she still dominated for gold.
She made history again as the leadoff of the women’s 4×100 medley relay, becoming the first woman to break 58 in that event. Her team went on to break the women’s 4×100 medley relay World Record. She now has 3 World Records and 2 World Championships titles to her name at 17 years old.
You might already be typing up a comment wondering why Smith is the World Swimmer of the Year when she didn’t win U.S. Swimmer of the Year. Allow us to give some rationale. First off, our staff felt that Regan Smith and Simone Manuel were pretty much a toss-up for both awards – either one could have justifiably won either or both. However, Manuel felt like a stronger candidate for U.S. Swimmer, as what was most impressive about her year was how she carried Team USA in the medal count and on the relays in a meet where the Americans largely struggled. Smith, meanwhile, had the world records and crushed the world ranks, starring from a ‘World’ perspective, albeit in a very limited appearance at the World Championships.
Smith also took down multiple 17-18 NAG Records, American Records, and World Junior Records in 2019. She now owns both the World Junior Records and World Records in the 100 and 200 backstrokes. A month after turning 17 at Cary Sectionals, she broke the American Records in both the 100 back and 200 back, though that 100 back record was broken later that month by Beata Nelson.
In no particular order
- Simone Manuel (USA)- With her victory in the 100 free at Worlds, Manuel earned back-to-back titles in the event. She also won her first career 50 free Worlds gold. Manuel was a part of the gold-winning World Record USA relays in the mixed 4×100 free and women’s 4×100 medley. She also earned silvers for the women’s 4×100 free, women’s 4×200 free, and mixed 4×100 medley. That made Manuel the first woman to earn 7 medals in a single Worlds meet.
- Katinka Hosszu (HUN)- Hosszu became the first woman to 4-peat in an event at Worlds as she took gold in the 200 IM. She later earned a 4-peat in the 400 IM to boot. At the 2019 SC European Championships, Hosszu became the winningest female in the history of the meet. She now has 20 career SC Euros gold medals. In the 2019 FINA World Cup, Hosszu achieved her 300th gold medal.
- Lilly King (USA)- King won 4 medals at Worlds, defending her titles in the 50 and 100 breaststrokes. She was a member of the World Record women’s 4×100 medley team and earned silver for the mixed 4×100 medley. Swimming for the Cali Condors, King went undefeated in the breaststroke races in the 2019 ISL season. She made it 4-for-4 in both breaststrokes at the NCAA Championships, becoming the first woman to do so. She was also the first woman to break 56 in the 100 yard breast.