2020 Swammy Awards: Canadian Female Swimmer Of The Year – Sydney Pickrem


The 2020 Canadian Female Swimmer of the Year Swammy Award goes to Canadian Olympian and World Championship medalist Sydney Pickrem.

Pickrem opened things up in 2020 at the FINA Champions Swim Series #1 in Beijing. There, she swam the 200 back, 200 breast, the 200 IM, and the 100 breast. In the 200 IM, Pickrem swam to a 2:09.26 victory, defeating the two most recent Olympic champion in the event; Ye Shiwen (2012) and Katinka Hosszu (2016).

That time would end up being the quickest swim among Canadian women in the event this year. Not only was she the fastest 200 IMer in the country in 2020, but she’s actually the fastest ever Canadian woman in history as the only one to crack the 2:10 mark.

Pickrem was also a competitor at the second stop of the FINA Champions Swim Series in Beijing. Her combined results from the 2 meets secured her spot among the top 5 Canadians in four separate Olympic events to close out the 2019/2020 season.

Sydney Pickrem‘s Top Long Course 5 Rankings (2019/2020)

  • 1st: 200 IM (2:09.26)
  • 3rd: 200 breaststroke (2:29.36)
  • 5th: 200 backstroke (2:12.78)
  • 5th: 100 breaststroke (1:09.59)

Pickrem’s long course season ended in Beijing as nearly all remaining competitions worldwide were canceled following the outbreak of COVID-19. She got back to international racing, however, in the fall when the International Swimming League put off its second season in Budapest. Pickrem raced for a second season as a member of the 2019 league runner-up, the London Roar.

Pickrem swam the 200 IM 6 times over the course of the 2020 season, starting with a victory in the event at match 2 in a 2:07.31 and ending with a win in the season final with a 2:04.00 Canadian record.

Sydney Pickrem 200 IM Swims At ISL 2020

Match 3 Match 6 Match 7 Match 9 Semi-Final 2 Finale
2:07.31 2:05.26 2:06.02 2:05.97 2:04.40 2:04.00
1st Place 2nd Place 5th Place 2nd Place 2nd Place 1st Place

That swim for Pickrem took 0.34 seconds off her previous national record in the event of 2:04.34 which she set last year during ISL season 1. The 200 IM was only 1 of 2 swims in which she set a new NR this year.

Swimming at match 10 this season, Pickrem raced to victory in the 400 IM, setting a new Canadian record of 4:25.90. The swim was quick enough to beat Mary-Sophie Harvey’s previous time of 4:26.42. Impressive as the swim was, Pickrem wasn’t finished with the record and went on to bring it down to a 4:23.68 at semi-final #1. That means that Pickrem is the only Canadian woman to crack the 4:26, 4:25, or 4:24 mark in the event.

Sydney Pickrem 400 IM Swims At ISL 2020

Match 2 Match 5 Match 8 Match 10 Semi-Final 1 Finale
4:37.31 4:30.48 4:27.37 4:25.90 4:23.68 4:24.84
5th Place 4th Place 3rd Place 1st Place 2nd Place 1st Place

Note the 14.06 second time improvement from Pickrem’s first 400 IM this season to her fastest in the event at the semi-final.

Aside from the 200 and 400 IMs, Pickrem also picked up points for London in both the 200 breast, 100 IM over the course of the season. Pickrem’s best MVP-point performance at any single match this year was at the final win which her 200 IM and 400 IM victories contributed to a 33 point total to tie Evengy Rylov (ENS) for 12th. Season-wide, she ranked 29th in the league, amassing 150.50 points total.


In no particular order.

  • Kylie MasseKylie Masse‘s ISL performance certainly proved that her backstroke prowess holds up in a short course pool. Masse swam for the Toronto Titans this season, ending as the 23rd highest scoring swimmer in the league with 164.50 total MVP points. Contributing to those points include season wins, 2 in the 50 backstroke (match 6/7), 4 in the 100 backstoke (match 3/6/7/9), and one in the 50 backstroke skins at (match 6). Her skins victory was a key win and an impressive feat as she took down seasoned veterans Emily Seebohm and Georgia Davies, along with then-world record in the even Etiene Medeiros.
  • Maggie MacNeil – Unlike the others on this list, MacNeil did not swim in the 2020 ISL season as she’s currently racing in the NCAA for the University of Michigan. Given the cancellation of 2020 NCAA Championships, MacNeil’s biggest meet in 2020 was the Big 10 Champs. There, she won 3/3 of her events, taking gold in the 50 free (21.30), 100 free (46.57), and 100 fly. Those 50 and 100 freestyle records were both fast enough to set new school records. MacNeil set an additional 3 school records in 2020, setting new marks in the 50 back (23.05), 100 back (50.04), and the 4×50 medley relay. MacNeil ended her sophomore year with 10/25 Michigan school records.


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Bill G
2 years ago

Surprised there was no honourable mention for Kelsey Wog. She scored 143 ISL points (versus 164 for Masse and 150 for Pickrem) and had a mitt-full for 200 breaststroke wins (along with some 200 IM wins) during the ISL season. Her only loss in the 200m breaststroke during the ISL season was to Lili King in the semi-finals.

Reply to  Bill G
2 years ago

Good point. As well she dominated Usport champs in Feb clocking some very excitable in-season LC times, especially 106 in the 100 and 222 in the 200 brst. Other that what those Feb swims could have translated individually for her come summer 2020, what the 106 could have progressed to in a summer medley relay split was most interesting. Thinking if a 58 low Kylie + potentially 104 Kelsey, 55 low or better Maggie and 51 Taylor or Penny…. While that would have still likely fallen short of what the US could do especially with a 57/103 1st half, at the least the Can girls could have made the race interesting and certainly be battling Aus for silver.

Reply to  Bill G
2 years ago

Agree that she should certainly have scored an honourable mention. With regards to her ISL season, she was maybe Toronto’s biggest hitter on the female side in their first 2 matches but did fall away considerably in later matches.

As for Pickrem, she was definitely “the one that got away” recruiting-wise when she decided to stay with Roar. Clearly she gelled really well with them in ISL1 and it was an astute smart move by Marshall giving her the female captaincy, esp with the absence of key AUS. IF there is to be an ISL3, it will be very interesting to see if she stays or whether Toronto or others can lure her away.

Reply to  commonwombat
2 years ago

If the rumors of the draft are true, she might not have much of a choice.

In regards to a draft scenario, and protecting athletes, for teams like London, we’ll have to see if their pool of protectees includes swimmers who signed with the team this year (namely the Australians) but never made it to Budapest. That gives the teams with lots of Australians a decided advantage as they have a bigger pool to protect from.

If London can protect their Australians, I think they will – just based on the expectation of commercial value there. That might leave Pickrem to go to the draft.

But, at any rate, as usual, we probably won’t find out the answers to all… Read more »

Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

Oh I hope it’s a lot sooner than that.

2 years ago

Huge congrats to Sydney! Well deserved!

Coach Mike 1952
2 years ago

A good choice! Go Sydney!