2023 Swammy Awards: Open Water Female Swimmer of the Year – Leonie Beck

See all of our 2023 Swammy Awards here.

The 2023 Swammy Award for Female Open Water Swimmer of the Year goes to Leonie Beck of Germany. Beck, 26, had the year of her open water career in 2023. This is her first time winning the award, as her historic 2023 was able to top usual winners Ana Marcela Cunha and Sharon Van Rouwendaal.

Her year was highlighted by sweeping the individual open water events at the Fukuoka World Championships, where she secured gold in both the 5k and 10k.

In the 5k, she clipped Van Rouwendaal by exactly a second to score gold, hitting the pad in a time of 59:31.7 to dip under the minute barrier. This swim improved on her 4th place finish from a year prior in Budapest.

In the 10k, an exciting race unfolded through the final 500 meters. Six swimmers were all within striking distance of one another, as Beck was joined by Ana Marcela Cunha, Sharon Van Rouwendaal, Katie Grimes, Chelsea Gubecka, and Ginevra Taddeuci. Beck pulled away in the closing stages, grabbing the win by over four seconds. Gubecka rallied for silver, and Grimes out-touched Cunha and Van Rouwendaal for the final podium position (and final Paris automatic qualification).

In addition to her dominating performances in Fukuoka, Beck had several amazing performances during the World Cup circuit. She kicked off the series strongly, winning the individual 10k at the first two stops.

At the first stop, which took place in Egypt, she took the win by just under 3 seconds – as Van Rouwendaal (2:04:07.30) and Cunha (2:04:11.00) followed in close pursuit.

At the second stop in Italy, she secured the win by just over a second to out-battle hometown star Ginevra Taddeuci.

She fell to 7th and 17th at the final two stops of the circuit, but her performances from the first two competitions were enough to earn the crown of overall World Cup champion for 2023. She won with a score of 2140 points, with Sharon Van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands (2100 points) and France’s Caroline Laure Jouisse (1550 points) taking 2nd and 3rd overall, respectively.

The 10k is the only individual event offered at the World Cup stops, in addition to the mixed relay. The 10k is currently the only individual open water event at the Olympics, whereas the 5k also makes an appearance at the World Championships.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Sharon Van Rouwendaal (NED)Sharon Van Rouwendaal had another great year in the open water sector, securing another World Championship medal in Fukuoka. She grabbed the silver in the 5k, touching just a second behind gold medal winner Beck. She also placed a close 4th in the 10k (where she was the defending champion), just 0.1 away from another medal. In addition to her performances at Worlds, she placed 2nd overall on the World Cup tour for 2023.
  • Chelsea Gubecka (AUS)Chelsea Gubecka, who has featured on Australian World Championship teams dating back to 2013, had a breakthrough swim in Fukuoka to grab silver in the 10k. Gubecka also helped Team Australia claim bronze in the team event, as they touched just 0.2 ahead of Germany.

Past Winners:

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