To see all of our 2021 Swammy Awards, click here.
2021 SOUTH AMERICAN MALE SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: BRUNO FRATUS
This is Bruno Fratus‘ 3rd time winning the South American Male Swimmer of the Year Swammy, as he previously won the award in 2017 and 2019. Since 2017, the award has been alternating between Fratus and Nicholas Santos, who is an Honorable Mention this year.
Fratus finally accomplished the one thing that had eluded him throughout his illustrious career: an Olympic medal. At age 32, Fratus became the oldest swimmer in history to win their first Olympic medal, earning Bronze in the 50 free with a 21.57.
With his semifinals performance of 21.60, Fratus became the first swimmer ever to swim a sub-:22 in the LCM 50 free 90 times. After his finals performance, he’s now done so 91 times in his career.
We say Fratus finally grabbed his Olympic medal because he’d been so close multiple times in his career. He competed in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, advancing to the 50 free final in both. In 2012, Fratus finished 4th, just 0.02 seconds off the medal stand. In 2016, he entered the meet as a favorite for a medal, but an off finals swim led to a 6th-place finish, and a frustrated Fratus was quoted as saying “For some reason, I’m not able to swim faster than that. I have no idea what is happening.”
Well, Fratus appears to have figured out what was happening, because he swam faster in 2021 than he did in 2012 or 2016, when he was 23 and 27 respectively.
Perhaps most impressively, Fratus hasn’t slowed down with age. In fact, he’s been the model of consistency since 2009, when he was 20 years old. Here is the summary of Fratus’ LCM 50 free season bests for each year since 2009:
2021 marked Fratus’ 5th-fastest season of his career in the 50 free.
In no particular order
- Nicholas Santos – The 42-year-old had a stellar end to 2021, winning the SC Worlds title in the 50 fly. With the performance, Santos broke his own record for the oldest swimmer to win a world title. Additionally, the medal made Santos the 2nd-most decorated Brazilian World Champs medalist, behind only Cesar Cielo. The medal marks Santos’ 7th SC World Champs Gold, and his 13th SC Worlds medal.
- Fernando Scheffer – Scheffer won Bronze in the men’s 200 free at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. His time of 1:44.66 also marked new Brazilian and South American Records in the event. His journey to the Olympic podium was a dramatic one, as he qualified 2nd in prelims, but narrowly made it out of semifinals, finishing 8th and earning himself an outside lane for the final. His 200 free Bronze marked Brazil’s first Olympic medal in the event since 1996.
- Guilherme Costa – Although Costa didn’t win any medals in Tokyo, the 23-year-old broke a pair of South American Records at the Olympics. Firstly, Costa swam prelims of the men’s 400 free, clocking a 3:45.99 for new Brazilian and SA Records. The swim placed 11th, meaning Costa just missed out on advancing to finals. It was a different story in the 800, where Costa blasted a new personal best, Brazilian, and South American Record of 7:46.08, placing 5th and advancing to finals. He would finish 8th in the final, but the prelims performance was one for the record books nonetheless.
- 2013 Swammy — Cesar Cielo, Brazil
- 2014 Swammy — Felipe Franca Silva, Brazil
- 2015 Swammy — Thiago Pereira, Brazil
- 2016 Swammy — Felipe Franca Silva, Brazil
- 2017 Swammy — Bruno Fratus, Brazil
- 2018 Swammy — Nicholas Santos, Brazil
- 2019 Swammy – Bruno Fratus, Brazil
- 2020 Swammy – Nicholas Santos, Brazil