2021 Swammy Awards: Asian Male Swimmer Of The Year, Wang Shun

To see all of our 2021 Swammy Awards, click here.


Wang Shun came into 2021 as one of China’s leading men over the past few years, having won Olympic bronze in the 200 IM in 2016, along with a bronze in that same event in 2017. He has also picked up a number of medals in a variety of events over the past decade at the long course World Championships, short course World Championships, the Asian Games, and the Military World Games.

Shun’s first big swim of the year was at Chinese Olympic Trials in May when he soared to victory in the men’s 200 IM. He swam a 1:56.78 to win the event by nearly three seconds, getting under the FINA A standard of 1:59.67. That swam was just over his 2017 national record of 1:56.16 and was enough to get him a spot at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

In the first round of racing at the Tokyo Games, Shun got down to a 1:57.42, which was the 7th fastest in the field. In the second round, however, Shun accelerated to a 1:56.22 to get within 0.06 seconds of his PB and Chinese record.

With a loaded field in his company, Shun ultimately got the job done in the final and blasted a 1:55.00 Asian record to take Olympic gold. He finished just 0.28 seconds ahead of silver medalist Duncan Scott and collected his first-ever Olympic gold medal. The swim took out Kosuke Hagino’s former Asian record of 1:55.07 from back in 2016 and made Shun the 3rd fastest man in history behind Ryan Lochte (1:54.00) and Michael Phelps (1:54.16).

Wang Shun walked away from the Olympics as the only Asian man to top an individual podium in the pool. Shun also raced the 400 IM at the Games and swam a 4:10.63 in the prelims to finish 10th overall.

While many of the world’s greatest swimmers took a break from long course racing, Shun took to the pool at the 2021 China National Games in September 2021. Just a few weeks after winning his Olympic gold medal Shun swam a 1:56.33 to win gold (a swim that would have been the 5th fastest time in the Olympic final).


  • Hwang Sunwoo (KOR): Our world junior male swimmer of the year Hwang Sunwoo had his Olympic debut this year and raced in 3 different events for Korea. His top finish in Tokyo was 5th in the men’s 100 freestyle where he swam a 47.82 and he walked away with a 7th place finish in the 200 freestyle (1:45.26). He had a faster swim in the 100 freestyle prelims, however, with a 47.56 Asian record. Sunwoo also had a quicker 200 freestyle swim during prelims with a 1:44.62 world junior record (which would have been a bronze medal swim in the final). Sunwoo also tore up the field in the short course season, capping off his year with his first-ever world title with a 1:41.60 at the Short Course World Championships.
  • Tomoru Honda (JPN): Tomoru Honda was the only Asian man other than Shun to land on a podium at the Olympic Games. Honda swam to second place at his home Olympics in the 200 butterfly with a 1:53.73. Honda entered the meet with a PB of 1:55.31 from 2019, which he exactly matched in the semi-finals round after a 1:55.10 prelim. That makes his finals performance a PB by roughly a second and a half.
  • Daiya Seto (JPN): Seto didn’t have the Olympics that many believed he would have when he missed the final in the 400 IM and the 200 butterfly. He made a bit of a comeback, however, in the 200 IM by placing 4th overall in the event with a 1:56.22, which was just 0.05 seconds off bronze. Seto continued racing into the fall, however, and put up some serious short course meters swims. He won 4 gold medals at the Kazan stop of the 2021 World Cup in the 100/200/400 IM and the 200 breast. Included in those swims was an Asian record in the 100 IM (51.29) and a World Cup record in the 200 IM (1:50.66). He picked up another two golds at the 2021 Short Course World Championships in the 200 IM and 400 IM. Additionally, he was a standout performer in the ISL where he collected 14 event wins, two match MVP awards, and finished 19th overall in the MVP points race.


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2 years ago

Want Shun won this year but Hwang Sunwoo looks like the top star of the future.

2 years ago

I’m a bit biased but I think seto deserves it more than wang. Yes wang won the gold at the 200 IM at the games, but that’s about it, placed lower than seto in the 400 and seto dominated the ISL the WC circuits in his respective events + 200 breast. I’m not by any means invalidating wang’s accomplishments but compared to seto who bounced back from the games and was dominating the world up until worlds, doesn’t really compare IMO

torture test
Reply to  Swimmerfromjapananduk
2 years ago

I know that Seto is everyone’s boy, but he BOMBED at the Olympics. Like he was terrible. IMO, while the Olympics aren’t everything, if someone’s going to recover to win this award after such a terrible Olympics, it’s going to require a minimum of a World Record.

Reply to  torture test
2 years ago

I don’t really know about that IMO. Wang won the gold which is great, but only in one event. I know long course is seen as more important, but I just feel like even if it’s short course SETI’s performances is much more impressive than wang’s

Reply to  Swimmerfromjapananduk
2 years ago

No way any SCM performances can beat an individual olympic gold medal.

Reply to  Swimmerfromjapananduk
2 years ago

If Seto won at least one minor medal at the Olympics, then there was still room to argue. However he didn’t even make the final in his best event. All the short course performances can’t make up for that.

Reply to  Swimmerfromjapananduk
2 years ago

Lmao didn’t think this would get so much hate lol, but all of your opinions are valid.

2 years ago

He is very humble and has a good personality.
It’s very good to say that he became an Olympic champion and his efforts were rewarded.

2 years ago

Congrats Wang Shun, a deserving win!

2 years ago

Shun’s first big swim of the year was at Chinese Olympic Trials in May when he soared to victory in the men’s 200 IM. He swam a 1:56.78 to win the event by nearly two seconds, getting under the FINA A standard of 1:59.67.

2 years ago

everybody wang shun

2 years ago

Sun yang got robbed

2 years ago

Honestly feel like Hwang and Seto were more impressive across the year.. Seto dominated ISL and WC in multiple events and then got 2 golds at SC worlds…

Yeah, Wang got Olympic gold with a really good time, but basically that was it for the year…

There's no doubt that he's tightening up
Reply to  ihatefree
2 years ago

Ask Seto would he rather have one Olympic gold or some decent short course results in meets where a good chunk of the world’s best swimmers didn’t even show.

Not to mention 1:55.00 is the fastest anyone not called Phelps or Lochte has ever been.


the 1:55 is the part that really seals the deal for me, if it were a “slow” gold medal then I could see it being argued the other way (but I would still give it to Wang) but the fastest time in history behind the two IM greats is just too much