Adam Peaty repeated his win from 2019 and gained his fourth LEN Award in five seasons, while Sweden’s Sarah Sjostom earned her third recognition in four. Dutch open water swimmer Sharon van Rouwendaal and British diver Tom Daley also finished first for the fourth time, while Serbian water polo legend Filip Filipovic was elected the best European player on the fifth occasion.
It was the 13th time since 2008 that the LEN member federations and LEN Officials cast their votes to choose Europe’s best aquatic athletes (2020 was skipped for obvious reasons). As it was expected, Olympic success weighed the most in the eyes of the electorate though the outstanding performances at the European Championships also made an impact.
Perhaps his four titles from Budapest 2021 helped Adam Peaty to finish ahead of Russia’s Evgeny Rylov in men’s swimming. In Tokyo, Rylov was Europe’s only swimmer to claim two individual gold medals (100-200m back double). Peaty had an individual gold and one from a relay but his brilliant swims at the Europeans earned him the highest number of votes. However, the percentages show that it was a really close call between these two and ahead of Europe’s other individual champions, Kristof Milak of Hungary and the other Brit Tom Dean.
Sarah Sjostrom got almost half of the votes among the women – European female swimmers left Tokyo without gold medals, still, the Swede got a silver and she excelled at the season-ending short-course meets, the Europeans in Kazan and at the Worlds in Abu-Dhabi.
Another British victory came in diving – Tom Daley claimed the most convincing win of all, with 76.7% of the votes. The genius of the platform fulfilled his dreams by becoming Olympic champion (with Matt Lee in synchro) and added a bronze in the individual event, besides having a gold and a silver from Budapest. While Daley joined the circles of the four-time LEN Award winners, he is unique in this club as his first recognition dates back to 2009!
A new winner was crowned among the women, Germany’s Tina Punzel finished first, thanks to her Olympic bronze and four European medals. Compatriot Florian Wellbrock also claimed his first LEN Award among the male open water swimmers – the Olympic champion of the marathon event had an amazing year as he also came up with a couple of brilliant swims in the pool, including a world record-breaking blast at the short-course Worlds in the 1500m free.
Sharon van Rouwendaal’s victory was also unquestionable among the women: the Dutchwoman added an Olympic silver to her treasury, months after making another memorable appearance at the Europeans. She has also become a four-timer among our awardees.
Not surprisingly, it was Russia all the way in artistic swimming. Concerning the results, the two Svetlanas produced identical tallies both at the Europeans and the Olympics – Kolesnichenko got one more vote than Romashina but perhaps a shared first place would have been more fitting as their duet enchanted everyone once more. The males had one major event to shine at, the Europeans, and double gold medallist Aleksandar Maltsev retained his award.
Water polo was the only discipline, where solely the Olympics – and somewhat the club events – determined the choices of the voters as the warriors’ Europeans were held in 2020 (the last major sport event staged among ‘normal’ circumstances…). As expected, the Tokyo gold medallist Serb males and the silver medallist Spanish females dominated the voting. Filip Filipovic was picked ahead of fellow leftie Dusan Mandic, thus the legendary captain claimed his 5th LEN Award, the first male athlete since Germany’s open water king Thomas Lurz who reached this height – only Italy’s diving diva Tania Cagnotto finished atop more (7 times). Among the women, Beatriz Ortiz got the majority of the votes, it’s her first-ever win, but the sixth for Spain altogether.
LEN Award – results of the voting
Best male swimmer
- Adam Peaty (GBR) 35.5%
- Evgeny Rylov (RUS) 22.6%
- Kristof Milak (HUN) 21.0%
- Thomas Dean (GBR) 12.9%
- Duncan Scott (GBR) 3.4%
- Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA) 1.6%
- Florian Wellbrock (GER) 1.6%
Best female swimmer
- Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 45.2%
- Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) 22.6%
- Kathleen Dawson (GBR) 17.7%
- Pernille Blume (DEN) 6.5%
- Simona Quadarella (ITA) 6.5%
- Leonie Beck (GER) 1.6%
Best male diver
- Tom Daley (GBR) 76.7%
- Patrick Hausding (GER) 9.4%
- Evgeniy Kuznetsov (RUS) 9.4%
- Aleksandar Bondar (RUS) 3.1%
- Jack Laugher (GBR) 1.6%
Best female diver
- Tina Punzel (GER) 62.6%
- Chiara Pellacani (ITA) 15.6%
- Yulia Timoshinina (RUS) 10.9%
- Ekaterina Beliaeva (RUS) 7.8%
- Elena Bertocchi (ITA) 1.6%
- Inge Jansen (NED) 1.6%
Best female artistic swimmer
- Svetlana Kolesnichenko (RUS) 35.6%
- Svetlana Romashina (RUS) 33.9%
- Marta Fiedina (UKR) 28.8%
Best male artistic swimmer
- Aleksandr Maltsev (RUS) 66.7%
- Pau Ribes (ESP) 22.8%
- Nicolo Ogliari (ITA) 10.5%
Best Male Open Water Swimmer
- Florian Wellbrock (GER) 55.6%
- Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA) 27.0%
- Kristof Rasovszky (HUN) 12.7%
- Axel Reymond (FRA) 3.2%
- Marc-Antoine Olivier (FRA) 1.6%
Best female open water swimmer
- Sharon van Rouwendaal (NED) 57.1%
- Giulia Gabbrielleschi (ITA) 17.5%
- Anna Olasz (HUN) 9.5%
- Lea Boy (GER) 7.9%
- Oceane Cassignol (FRA) 6.3%
- Leonie Beck (GER) 1.6%
Best male water polo player
- Filip Filipovic (SRB) 50.0%
- Dusan Mandic (SRB) 18.3%
- Ioannis Fountoulis (GRE) 13.3%
- Aleksandar Ivovic (MNE) 10.0%
- Viktor Nagy (HUN) 8.3%
Best female water polo player
- Beatriz Ortiz (ESP) 51.7%
- Anni Espar (ESP) 25.0%
- Vasiliki Plevritou (GRE) 8.3%
- Ekaterina Prokofyeva (RUS) 8.3%
- Alda Magyari (HUN) 6.7%