2019 Swammy Awards: Top 10 Swims of the Year

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2019 Swammy Awards: Top 10 Swims of the Year

2019 was a very memorable year as the swimming community saw the sport grow faster right before their eyes. Since this past summer had the LC World Championships, the majority of the selected swims came out of that meet. In fairness, among the 10 selections, five were world record swims and five were chosen based on the quality of the racing.

So without further ado, here is our list for the top 10 swims of 2019.

#10: Chupkov Defends 200 Breast Title in World Record-Fashion

  • Swimmer: Anton Chupkov (RUS)
  • Event: 200 Breast (LCM)
  • Time: 2:06.12
  • Meet: 2019 World Championships

The World final of the men’s 200 breast was primed to be an epic showdown between the 3 fastest men in the event’s history. During into the final 50, Aussie Matthew Wilson, Japanese Ippei Watanabe, and Russian Anton Chupkov were all in medal contention.

While Wilson looked to have sealed the title, Chupkov turned on a massive acceleration to not only defend his world title, but to break Wilson/Watanabe’s world record at 2:06.12.

#9: Dressel V. Chalmers in 100 Free Final

Into the World final of the men’s 100 free, defending World champion American Caeleb Dressel and defending Olympic champion Aussie Kyle Chalmers went head-to-head in the middle lanes. Dressel took the race out fast, as usual, yet in the finishing 15 meters Chalmers accelerated towards Dressel.

It was the 22-year-old American Dressel at the finish who defended his title with a new American record of 46.96, becoming the third man in history to break 47 seconds. As for runner-up Chalmers, he became the 3rd-fastest Aussie and 6th-fastest world performer in history at 47.08 with his efforts.

#8: American Women Re-set 400 Medley Relay WR

Heading into the World final of the 400 medley relay, the American women returned as the world record-holders and defending 2017 champion. Teenager Regan Smith, who was a last-minute replacement, led the relay off in a blistering 57.57, good enough to break her 2nd individual world record of the meet.

The rest, as they say, was history as Smith gave teammates Lilly King, Kelsi Dahlia, and clutch relay anchor Simone Manuel a commanding lead to defend their title. The quartet won the race with a time of 3:51.55, chopping a full second off their 2017 world record time.

#7: Manuel Upsets C1/Sjostrom for 100 Free Gold

  • Swimmer: Simone Manuel (USA)
  • Event: 100 Free (LCM)
  • Time: 52.04
  • Meet: 2019 World Championships

American Simone Manuel stayed quiet during the World prelims and semifinals of the 100 free, seeding herself in lane one of the final. Yet Manuel took advantage of the outside lane and blasted through the first 50 of the race in the lead.

However, Aussie Cate Campbell and Swede Sarah Sjostrom, the top 2 performers in history, gave Manuel a slight push out of the middle lanes. At the finish, Manuel successfully defended her title in American record-time (52.04). Manuel is now the 3rd-fastest performer in history, as well as remaining the fastest American woman in the event.

#6: Weitzeil Becomes First Woman Under 21 Seconds in 50-yard Free

  • Swimmer: Abbey Weitzeil (USA/Cal-Berkeley)
  • Event: 50 Free (SCY)
  • Time: 20.90
  • Meet: 2019 Minnesota Invitational

The lone non-Worlds swim of the list, Olympic gold medalist Abbey Weitzeil made history in the 25-yard pool at the 2019 Minnesota Invitational. Weitzeil, a senior for the Cal Golden Bears, tore up the A-final of the 50-yard free in record time.

At the wall, Weitzeil touched in at 20.90, not only setting new NCAA, U.S. Open, and American records, but becoming the first woman ever to break 21 seconds in the event.

#5: Scott and Team GBR Shut Down USA in 400 Medley Relay Final

  • Swimmer(s): Duncan Scott (Team Great Britain)
  • Event: 400 Medley Relay (LCM)
  • Time: 3:28.10
  • Meet: 2019 World Championships

During the World final of the men’s 400 medley relay, the Great Britain relay was trailing behind the Americans by a full second as the freestylers entered the water. Brit Duncan Scott, desperate to catch USA’s Nathan Adrian, propelled with massive acceleration in the closing meters.

At the finish, Scott successfully ran down Adrian and sealed Great Britain’s first-ever world title in the event. As for Scott’s 100 free split, his efforts produced a 46.14, which is the second-fastest 100 free relay split in history.

#4: Peaty Finally Goes 56

  • Swimmer: Adam Peaty (GBR)
  • Event: 100 Breast (LCM)
  • Time: 56.88
  • Meet: 2019 World Championships

At 25 years of age, Brit Adam Peaty finally accomplished the famed “Project 56” during the World semifinals of the 100 breast. At the finish, Peaty clocked in at 56.88, breaking his own event world record for the 5th-consecutive time. His swim once again made history as Peaty became the only man to swim under the 58-second barrier and the 57-second barrier.

Fast forward to the event final, Peaty retained his world title at 57.14. The Brit now owns all 16 top performances in history.

#3: 19-year-old MacNeil Upsets Olympic Champion Sjostrom in 100 Fly

  • Swimmer: Maggie MacNeil (CAN)
  • Event: 100 Fly (LCM)
  • Time: 55.83
  • Meet: 2019 World Championships

During the final of the women’s 100 fly, world record-holder/Olympic champion/World champion Sarah Sjostrom was the heavy medal favorite in the event. Canadian Maggie MacNeil, however, did not let those titles intimidate her as she impressively closed Sjostrom’s lead into the final meters.

At the finish, MacNeil shocked the world (and Sjostrom) as she touched first in a new Canadian/Americas record time of 55.83. The 19-year-old, who made her debut senior international team at this meet, is now the 3rd woman to break 56 seconds and the 2nd-fastest performer in history.


#2: 17-year-old Smith Breaks 200 Back WR

  • Swimmer: Regan Smith (USA)
  • Event: 200 Back (LCM)
  • Time: 2:03.35
  • Meet: 2019 World Championships

After debuting at the 2017 World Championships at 15, the now-17-year-old Regan Smith was poised to carry the torch of American women’s backstroke. Smith qualified for the World semifinals in the 200 back with a 2:06.01, which was good enough for a world junior record.

Yet during the semifinal itself, Smith built a strong lead on the rest of the field under world record pace. At the finish, Smith dropped 3 seconds from prelims to post a new world record of 2:03.35, taking down ‘s 7-year-old world record.

#1: Milak Takes Down Michael Phelps’ Legendary 200 Fly WR

  • Swimmer: Kristof Milak (HUN)
  • Event: 200 Fly (LCM)
  • Time: 1:50.73
  • Meet: 2019 World Championships

And the top swim of 2019 goes to Hungarian Kristof Milak‘s jaw-dropping performance in the World final of the 200 fly. During the event semifinals, Milak put up a massive lifetime best to threaten Michael Phelps‘ 2009 world record.

Milak was slightly trailing behind South African Chad le Clos during the event final. However, just like the teen did during the semifinals, Milak did not let fatigue catch him as he continued to inch towards the world record lime. At the finish, Milak successfully won his first world title broke his first world record (1:50.73), one that was owned by the great Michael Phelps.


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3 years ago

56 100 Brst being number 4 is absurd. It is so, so, so much more impressive than Milaks 200 Fly. And Regans 200 back probably was also come to think of it.

And if the argument is that it wasn’t competitive enough or whatever then the men’s 200 should be first seeing as it had 3 WR holders go head to head and a WR, with all 3 finishing within about half a second of each other and the winner leading for only the last 15-20m.

Reply to  Jred
3 years ago

If we analyse them as an expert you could be right. Milak’s start, finish and most of his turn-arounds were bad or worst. And his utterly unnecessary looking to the left at 174m can be mentioned too.
I think this is mostly about something else just as Joe wrote “how far is my jaw from the floor?”
The 1st three were astonishing surprises. Maggie’s win, Regan’s and Kristof’s WR (and the difference from the previous one).
Everybody knew Adam would swim 56 sooner or later.
Now we can wait for 1:49 200 Fly.

Reply to  Brownish
3 years ago

1:49 200 fly would STILL be considerably less impressive than Peaty’s 100 Brst.

Reply to  Jred
3 years ago

I considerably don’t think so 🙂

Reply to  Brownish
3 years ago

Well you would be wrong. It would be 0.4 further ahead of number 2 All time despite twice the distance.

Would have to be 1:48.5 before they are in the same ballpark.

Reply to  Jred
3 years ago

I think a shorter distance and especially breast can’t be compared with a longer distance anything after the supersuit era and only looking the time, the difference between the actual WR and the ever 2nd best. In this case when somebody will swim WR in w200 fly it will be the less impressive WR? Definitely not but the very very best.

Reply to  Brownish
3 years ago

Peaty is even further ahead of the supersuit record.

There is less range in the 100 than the 200 of every event right now except breaststroke.

Reply to  Jred
3 years ago

At least Peaty is on the list as #4, I still can’t get over the absurdity of the men’s 100m fly WR doesn’t even make top 10 of 2019…
Is the rule implies that one swim can only be on one of the top xx swims list? And this is the year that there are year end and decade end list?

3 years ago

Brandon Fischer’s 59 100 breast? Y’all are going to regret this one. Man is coming for your olympic qualifying spot LIVE from Omaha.

3 years ago

If Weitzeil had done an equivalent of 17.63 then I think it’s fine to include. There comes a point where a yard swim is so rediculous that I think you can put it ahead of LCM world records. I’ll say candidly that I think 17.63 is a harder record than 20.91 LCM or the 20.25 SCM. But truthfully I suspect that if you put Ranomi and Sjostroem in a SCY pool and had them focus around that race for a couple seasons, then I think we would already have seen several 20-point swims.

Reply to  THEO
3 years ago

Ranomi has gone 22,9 in SCM and that is 100 times more impressive than sub 21 yards.
You could argue Dressel had the Mizuno, destroyed everyone and was in the best shape of his life but you can also argue that:
Yards is a shorter race and the gap between men women should be smaller.
Florent never swam yards, the best Morozov(20.3 several times) had already finished college.

Reply to  Lopez
3 years ago

Dressels gone faster than Flo or Vlad and clearly wasn’t in his 17.6 shape. He’d be sub 20 if he was. No sprint in history is as impressive as 17.6 and I doubt even Dressel will throw down something as impressive as that in his LCM career.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Pvdh
3 years ago

He’s now over the hill?

3 years ago

wow, 2019 will be remembered as the year where there are so many great swims that breaking MP’s most emotionally charged WR does not make top 10 swims of the year!!

3 years ago

Small point of contention, neither Scott nor Chalmers accelerate the last 15-25 meters. Although Chalmers does keep his speed relatively constant.


Reply to  Horninco
3 years ago

This guy threw SwimSwam’s own article at them lol

Reply to  Horninco
3 years ago

Just read that analysis. Wow. Quite some work

But doesn’t it actually conclude that Chalmers accelerated over the last 15m?

Backstroke Bro
3 years ago

Really don’t think weitzels swim should be that high. Honestly don’t know why it’s on the list and not Dressels 49.5

Reply to  Backstroke Bro
3 years ago

i think so too

Reply to  Backstroke Bro
3 years ago

Agreed. SwimSwam often has recent biases with these lists though.

3 years ago

Three Aussie men 47.1 or faster textile since 2010 is just mind-blowing.

Mr Piano
Reply to  Dee
3 years ago

47.0 actually

3 years ago

Typo: Chalmers isn’t the second fastest Aussie (though he is in textile). Cam McEvoy 47.04 and Eamon Sullivan 47.05. Magnussen went 47.10, so Australia has a real cluster of very low 47s haha.

Fastest all-time stat is correct: Cielo, Bernard, Dressel, McEvoy, Sullivan, Chalmers.

Reply to  Joe
3 years ago

Too bad all those 47.0s weren’t all at the same time.

Reply to  Barry
3 years ago

?? 2008, 2011,2016,2019.

About Nick Pecoraro

Nick Pecoraro

Nick Pecoraro started swimming at age 11, instantly becoming drawn to the sport. He was a breaststroker and IMer when competing. After joining SwimSwam, the site has become an outlet for him to research and learn about competitive swimming and experience the sport through a new lenses. He graduated in …

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