2019 Swammy Awards: Top 10 Swims of the Year

To see all of our 2019 Swammy Awards, click here. 

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.


In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Bad Knees
1 year ago

How does Dressel breaking the 100 fly world record not make the top ten??? You just missed a wide open lay up………

Reply to  Bad Knees
1 year ago

Yes- and the Titmus/Ledecky 400M battle didn’t get mention either.
Sorry, but someone breaking a 50 ‘yard’ WR is of pretty much no interest to the rest of the world.
The rest of the list is smoking hot though!

Reply to  Torchbearer
1 year ago

I get what you’re saying, yards is indeed an archaic and America-only format. Whether or not this swim belongs on this list is of course debatable. Still, outright dismissing great yards swims is short sighted. Given the depth of NCAA swimming and the legacy of the great swimmers from all over the world that have come before, I’d argue the rest of the world should absolutely pay attention to someone breaking a yards record.

Reply to  Bad Knees
1 year ago

Probably limiting to 1 per athlete.

Reply to  Troy
1 year ago

Manuel and Smith each have 1.25 (relay+individual) 😉

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Bad Knees
1 year ago

Yeah, but he didn’t no-breathe it.

1 year ago

And seriously didn’t the Australian 4×200 women’s relay team beat a super suit world record ?
I swear these lists are sometimes made just to get more comments from the non- American readers who are astounded at what is left out of the list . ( I still love this site though )

Reply to  Samesame
1 year ago

Yeah, I noticed its absence too. I’d probably include it by dropping Weitzeil’s toy pool record.

Reply to  Troy
1 year ago

This is rude

Reply to  Samesame
1 year ago

I agree that this race has to be mentioned. Australian team broke long standing suit record. But even more applause deserves American team. Swimswam never mentioned it. If Australian team broke this record having on the team two red hot 1:54 200 specialists then American team being led by sick Ledecky had no 200 specialists at all. And they broke this record as well being only about 1.5 foot behind champion at finish. Even in dreams nobody saw it happenIng. It was the greatest surprise for me in 2019 season. Upset of leaders isn’t a surprise.

Reply to  Yozhik
1 year ago

Nah …. my friend broke an Australian age group record but came second so doesn’t count . America coming second here doesn’t count . Good swims though

Reply to  Samesame
1 year ago

Also apparently Titmus and McKeon are 200 specialists while Ledecky isn’t.

Reply to  Troyy
1 year ago

Titmus is a 400 freestyle and McKeon 200 is arguably her 3rd best event

1 year ago

I can’t tell the rationale here, is it most exciting/interesting race or most impressive individual swim?

If it’s the former, that hundred free needs to be way higher. If it’s the latter, MacNeil over Peaty makes no sense and not having Dressel’s 100 fly is nuts.

That said, thanks for all the content you guys produce, keeps us informed and keeps us talking!

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 …

Read More »