2020 Swammy Awards: European Male Swimmer of the Year Ilya Shymanovich

To see all of the 2020 award winners, click here.

2020 European Male Swimmer of the Year: Ilya Shymanovich, Belarus

2020 was the year of European men’s breaststrokers. Belarusian star Ilya Shymanovich has been a top-level speedster for years, but never quite had a big enough gold medal or record-setting swim to move past Adam Peaty for European breaststroking dominance.

Until this December, that is. Shymanovich broke through at the Belarusian Championships in the eleventh hour of 2020, breaking Peaty’s short-lived short course world record in the 100 breast. Shymanovich’s 55.34 was the crown jewel he needed to elevate a 2020 resume that was quietly brilliant.

Between November and December of 2020, Shymanovich swam between 55.3 and 55.8 six separate times in the 100 (short course meter) breaststroke. He finished the ISL season as the league’s #2 swimmer in the 100 breast (just .08 behind Peaty’s world record swim) and the #3 swimmer in the 50 breast. But though he didn’t surpass the more flashy Peaty in best times for that season, he did manage to outscore Peaty by a solid 25 points in MVP scoring across the season.

Swimming for league runners-up Energy Standard, Shymanovich finished 12th in the entire league in MVP scoring, and second to Sakci among European men. He winds up #1 in the world for the year 2020 in the short course 100 meter breast, and #2 in the short course 50 meter breast, upping his game late in the year in both events.



In no particular order

  • Adam Peaty, Great Britain: Peaty was in line for his fourth time winning this Swammy award until Shymanovich broke his world record in December. Peaty broke the 100 short course meter breaststroke record twice between the ISL semifinals and final. He also finished 14th in ISL scoring despite being confined entirely to breaststroke. He was a three-time skin race winner for the London Roar and set the ISL record in the 100 breast.
  • Gregorio Paltrinieri, Italy: Paltrinieri didn’t have the benefit of the ISL season to boost his stock, but he did have one of the year’s best swims with a 14:33.10 in the 1500 long course free back in August. Right in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Paltrinieri blasted the only long course European record set in 2020, hitting the second-fastest swim of all-time in the event. Paltrinieri followed that up with a national open water championship.
  • Kliment Kolesnikov, Russia: Kolesnikov had a rough start to his ISL season, but got up to speed in a hurry. He wound up setting the world record in the 100 short course meter backstroke at 48.58 while leading off an Energy Standard relay. In a loaded ISL backstroke field, Kolesnikov was king, winning the 100 back and leading off the winning medley relay. He starred throughout 2020, hitting the four fastest swims in history in the 100 short course meter backstroke across November and December of 2020. And he was a force on freestyle relays for Energy Standard throughout the ISL season as well.


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Fortnite Nick
1 year ago

Must’ve been the exaggerated swagger he had as a Belarusian teen

1 year ago

I thought Kamminga would get it after the year he’s had

1 year ago

If he does his dolphin kicks in Tokyo, hope he gets called out, potentially taking a medal away from another swimmer

Reply to  Swimmer1234
1 year ago

He should be DQ’d in every single race he swims.

Fraser Thorpe
Reply to  Stewie
1 year ago

Are they introducing cameras as part of judging? Seems crazy that hasn’t been instituted since the CVDB debacle in London.

1 year ago

I am not sure he is the fastest breastroker. It is an Olympic year and you give it to short course swimmer?!?! What about Dutch kid….impressive 100 and 200 breast! LC!!!!

NOT the frontman of Metallica
1 year ago

This award should have gone to Paltrinieri.

Sun Yangs Hammer
1 year ago

I believe you forgot Dean Farris swims for Ireland.

Misha Fan
Reply to  Sun Yangs Hammer
1 year ago

He swam for the US at world university games in 2019 and I haven’t heard any news of him switching nationalities. Also, I can’t recall anything significant he did in this year that would be more impressive than a world record and a strong ISL season

Reply to  Misha Fan
1 year ago

Misha Fan – The other comment is a joke, referencing an April Fool’s article from last year – https://swimswam.com/april-fools-post-dean-farris-will-represent-ireland-at-tokyo-2020-olympic-games/

Misha Fan
Reply to  Robert Gibbs
1 year ago

Ah, thank you. I wasn’t active enough then to remember this joke

1 year ago

I think there is an argument for all of the other 3 guys deserving it more. Peaty beat him h2h multiple times, Paltrinieri had his best performance in long course and Kolesnikov‘s world record was more impressive + it was a huge comeback season for him. Personally I would have ranked them as following:

1 year ago

Would be interesting to know who everyone considers as favorite for the award next year? I think if a European guy wins two individual Olympic golds it might be enough to beat Peaty/Milak who might win one individual gold in a world record time. Who would be the deserving winner if Peaty would win the 100 breast in world record time and the medley relay (without a world record) and Paltrinieri wins the 800 and 1500 free (both without a world record)?

Reply to  AnEn
1 year ago

Is Paltrinieri swimming OW as well as pool? If he wins a gold in each discipline, he’ll deserve it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dee
Reply to  Dee
1 year ago

Not sure, but probably yes. I think Wellbrock is more likely to win the 1500/10k double. So for you Paltrinieri wouldn’t deserve it if he would just win the 800 and 1500 free?

Reply to  AnEn
1 year ago

I really like Wellbrock’s chances – His stroke looks more suited to OW, and he has had Paltrinieri’s number for a couple years at 1500. I’d find the 1500/10k double superior to 800/1500 personally – If anybody does the former, they’ll be hard to beat for Euro swimmer of the year.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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