While most of the world has begun to look ahead toward the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, World Aquatics took the opportunity of the 2023 World Aquatics Championships to look backward and awards its awards for the best of 2022.
Winners were awarded prize money of $10,000 each for their Athlete of the Year honors.
World Aquatics Award Winners:
- Female Swimmer of the Year – Katie Ledecky, USA
- Male Swimmer of the Year – David Popovici, Romania
- Female Open Water Swimmer of the Year – Ana Marcela Cunha, Brazil
- Male Open Water Swimmer of the Year – Gregorio Paltrinieri, Italy
- Female Diver of the Year – Chen Yuxi, China
- Male Diver of the Year – Wang Zongyuan, China
- Male High Diver of the Year – Rhiannan Iffland, Australia
- Female High Diver of the Year – Aidan Heslop, Great Britain
- Female Water Polo Player of the Year – Maddie Musselman, USA
- Male Water Polo Player of the Year – Felipe Perrone, Spain
- Artistic Swimmer of the Year – Yukiko Inui, Japan
- Male Artistic Swimmer of the Year – Giorgio Minsini, Italy
In a year dominated by the ad hoc Budapest World Aquatics Championships, all of the winners were World Champions last year.
Ledecky won four World Championships in 2022, taking titles in the 400 free, 800 free, 1500 free, and 800 free relay. That was before two more wins in 2023 that gave her the most individual World Championships in history, surpassing Michael Phelps.
For Ledecky, for many the dominant face of her generation in women’s swimming, that is surprisingly just her 2nd Female Swimmer of the Year award, winning previously in 2013.
On the other end of the spectrum was the teenage breakout star David Popovici, who at the 2022 European Aquatics Championships broke a legendary World Record in the 100 free. He also won individual World Championships in the 100 and 200 freestyles, making him the first male swimmer to do that double at Worlds since American Jim Mongtomery in 1973.
In open water, Marcela Cunha won the 5km and 25km races at the World Championships in 2022, earning bronze in the premier 10km event.
The 2022 award is a record-setting 8th award for Cunha in 12 all-time awards given.
The Italian Gregorio Paltrinieri, meanwhile, won the 2022 World Championship in the 10km race and added a bronze in team open water. While not considered for an open water award, he also pulled a double by winning the 10km event in the pool in 2022.
He was a first-time winner for 2022.
In water polo, Felipe Perrone of Italy and Maddie Musselman each won the award after leading their teams to gold medals.
Perrone was named the Most Valuable Player in the Final match as the captain of the winning Spanish team.
Musselman, meanwhile, scored 5 of the 9 American goals in the final, and her 20 goals was 3rd-most in the tournament.
So far, World Aquatics has only announced the female winner for Artistic Swimming, won by Japan’s Yukiko Inui. In absence of the dominant Russians, in both 2022 and 2023, she won the 2022 solo technical and solo free routine events.