2022 Swammy Awards: Male Breakout Swimmer of the Year – Thomas Ceccon

To see all of our 2022 Swammy Awards, click here.


Thomas Ceccon already had a couple Olympic relay medals on his résumé entering this year, but his performance in 2022 proved that last year was just his warm-up act. 

Ceccon clocked one of the most stunning world records of the year at the World Championships in June with a 51.60 in the 100-meter backstroke, accompanied by an equally electric mustache. That time took a quarter of a second off the previous world standard set by Ryan Murphy during the Rio 2016 Olympics. It also shaved .7 seconds off his best time coming into the meet (52.30) from the Tokyo Olympics, where he placed fourth. His podium miss last summer gave him extra motivation this year

Along with the new world record, the 21-year-old Italian also brought home his first major international medal on the senior stage. He had previously won world junior titles in the 100 back and 50 fly in 2019. 

Ceccon capped his run in Budapest with a gold medal in the 4×100 medley relay, marking Italy’s first world title ever in the event. He split 51.93 on the opening backstroke leg en route to a new European record of 3:27.51, edging defending Olympic champion United States by just a couple tenths of a second. 

Ceccon left Worlds with three new national records in the 100 back (51.60), 50 fly (22.79), and 50 back (24.62), where he took down a Niccolo Bonacchi record that had stood for eight years.  He didn’t slow down after Worlds, either, dropping almost a full second off his best 100 fly time (51.38) at a regional meet in Verona. At the European Championships the next month, he lowered his Italian record in the 50 back to 24.40. 

Ceccon, who turns 22 later this month, ended his year with an impressive showing at Short Course Worlds in December. Not only did he secure another individual world title in the 100 IM, but he also set another world record in the 4×100 free relay. Ceccon showed that he is now truly elite in three separate strokes, making him one of only a handful of swimmers in the world who can stake that claim. 

In total, Ceccon won 15 medals at major international meets and set six national records this year.  

Honorable Mentions: 

  • Hunter Armstrong (USA)Hunter Armstrong started off hot this year with a world record in the 50-meter backstroke (23.71) before taking silver in the event at Worlds behind teammate Justin Ress. The 21-year-old underwent changes in his training, foregoing his final two years of eligibility at Ohio State to turn pro. The long-course specialist won three major international gold medals this year in the men’s 4×100 free relay, mixed 4×100 medley relay, and SCM men’s 4×100 medley relay. 
  • Josh Liendo (CAN)Josh Liendo picked up right where he left off after a successful 2021 Short Course Worlds last December. The 20-year-old Canadian won his first major international medals in a long-course pool, taking bronze in the 100 free and 100 fly at Worlds in June. He also added a silver medal in the mixed 4×100 free relay. At the Commonwealth Games in August, Liendo topped the podium for the first time in an individual event at a major international meet with a 100 fly victory. 
  • Maxime Grousset (FRA) – Maxime Grousett burst onto the international scene this year with three individual medals at major meets. The 23-year-old Frenchman edged Liendo for silver in the 100 free at Worlds while adding a bronze in the 50 free. At Short Course Worlds last month, he notched a silver in the 100 free. Grousset, who only owned relay medals from Worlds and Euros before this year, also topped the podium in the mixed 4×100 free relay at Euros and the mixed 4×50 free relay at Short Course Worlds. 
  • Lukas Martens (GER) – Lukas Martens could never quite recapture the magic of his 3:41.60 400 free from April that ranked him as the No. 8 performer of all time, but the 21-year-old German still had a year to remember. Martens earned a runner-up finish in the 400 free at Worlds behind Australia’s Elijah Winnington. Then at Euros, he triumphed in the 400 free while adding a silver in the 800 free. 

Previous Winners:

  • 2021 – Bobby Finke (USA)
  • 2020 – Emre Sakci (TUR)
  • 2019 – Andrei Minakov (RUS)
  • 2018 – James Wilby (GBR)
  • 2017 – Zane Grothe (USA)
  • 2016 – Masato Sakai (JPN)
  • 2015 – Mitch Larkin (AUS)
  • 2014 – Adam Peaty (GBR)

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4 months ago

Ceccon could start hard working in 200im or 100 fly

Reply to  Franz
4 months ago

I think there’s a good chance he either starts training the 100fly or 200back to have a third individual race in Paris, especially considering that while his 100 free is pretty solid, the competition is ridiculously stacked.

As for the 200 IM, it would be really cool, but given how much more stamina it requires, and that he probably wouldn’t be able to pull it out by having simply the best front half, like he might with the 200back.

I think that if he ever does prepare it, it would be in the 2025-2028 Olympic cycle, after all he’ll be 27 in LA, which might still be on the backend of his prime

Steve Nolan
4 months ago

That previous winners list is crazy.

That breakout year was sorta the peak for almost all of them, and then also Adam Peaty.

4 months ago

Somehow even with a world record, one of the most underrated swimmers in the game rn

4 months ago

No marchand as honorable mention?

Reply to  Yoo
4 months ago

He was HM for swimmer of the year.

4 months ago

through his interview, i can see that he is a very good person and the reward is well deserved

4 months ago

I was so convinced the American bias would kick in and Hunter would get it, but Ceccon (rightfully) deserved it.

Well done

Reply to  Andrew
4 months ago

Loretta probably put her foot down! 😂

Beginner Swimmer at 25
4 months ago


About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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