2022 WORLD OPEN WATER FEMALE SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: ANA MARCELA CUNHA, BRAZIL
After winning her fifth World Championship title in the 25k this year, Brazil’s Ana Marcela Cunha has further solidified herself as the best female open water swimmer ever. Her accomplishments at Worlds and the FINA Marathon Swim World Series make her the 2022 Swammy award winner for Open Water Female Swimmer of the Year.
This is Cunha’s fifth Swammy award, the most of any other female open water swimmer. She won her first back in 2015, followed by wins in 2017, 2019, and 2021.
Cunha’s year was highlighted by her performance at the World Championships in Budapest. She opened the meet by winning her second consecutive 5k title, beating out Aurelie Muller of France by less than a second to post a final time of 57:52.9. Cunha followed her 5k win with a third-place finish in the 10k, picking up a bronze medal.
She went on to win the 25k by just 0.2 seconds ahead of Germany’s Lea Boy, clocking a 5:24:15.0. This swim marked her 5th consecutive title in the event, making her one of only four swimmers to have ever won five world titles in the same event. She won’t have the opportunity to defend her World Championship title in 2023, as it has been removed from the program. In total, she has now collected 14 medals across 6 World Championships.
Cunha also came out on top of the final standings for the FINA Marathon Swim World Series. Cunha won the women’s 10k races at the stops in Portugal and France. She also finished 3rd in Canada and 2nd at the final stop in Israel. She captured the series title with 2900 total points, out-scoring 2nd-place Sharon van Rouwendaal by 200 points. This is Cunha’s 6th time winning the series, adding to her wins in 2021, 2018, 2014, 2012, and 2010.
Cunha underwent shoulder surgery in November of this year following the completion of the Marathon Swim World Series. It is not clear when exactly she will return to racing, but says that she will be “even stronger” in 2023.
- Sharon van Rouwendaal, Netherlands – The other major presence on the open water international stage is Sharon van Rouwendaal, who also had a busy year. She won the 10k event at World Championships, touching just half a second of Leonie Beck from Germany. At the European Championships in August, van Rouwendaal won the 5k and placed 4th in a tight 10k race. She also ended up 2nd in the FINA World Marathon standings with 2700 points.
- Leonie Beck, Germany – A member of Germany’s winning 4x1500m relay at World Champs, Leonie Beck secured two medals with her 2nd-place finish in the individual 10k race. Beck went on to win the 10k event at the European Championships in August, as well as secure a fifth-place finish in the 5k. She placed 4th in the FINA World Marathon Swim Series with 1290 points overall.
- 2021 – Ana Marcela Cunha, Brazil
- 2020– Anastasia Kirpichnikova, Russia
- 2019 – Ana Marcela Cunha, Brazil
- 2018 – Sharon van Rouwendaal, Netherlands
- 2017 – Ana Marcela Cunha, Brazil
- 2016 – Sharon van Rouwendaal, Netherlands
- 2015 – Ana Marcela Cunha, Brazil
- 2014 – Sharon van Rouwendaal, Netherlands
- 2013 – Poliana Okimoto, Brazil