The world of open water swimming was absolutely dominated by four women this year; Poliana Okimoto, Martina Grimaldi, Ana Cunha, and Angela Maurer. All four women competed at Fina World Cup stops and each earned multiple medals. To add to their impressive results, each women earned themselves a medal at this year’s World Championships.
To choose just one for this year’s Swammy award was difficult, but when everything was stacked up, the honor had to go to Brazil’s Poliana Okimoto. Okimoto had an amazing open water season, finishing with three World Championship medals (one of every color) and two Fina World Cup tour wins as well.
Okimoto, 30, had only won three international medals previously. At the 2007 Pan Am Games, she won a silver in the 10km open water and followed that up with another silver in the same event in 2011. In 2009 Okimoto won her first international medal at a pro-level competition by taking home the silver medal in the 5km at the World Championships in Rome. But there was nothing that indicated she would have the breakout season she did in 2013.
At Worlds, the primary honor was a gold in the 10km race – open water’s premier event. To that she added a silver in the 5k, and a bronze in the team 5k.
Not that it’s directly a factor in an open water award, but the Brazilian veteran is no stranger to pool swimming either, and set the Brazilian record in the 1500m freestyle two weeks after Worlds this year with a time of 16:26.90. Okimoto currently holds the 800m and 1500m freestyle Brazilian records in short course meters as well.
Okimoto’s one international area that she’s lacking medals in is the Olympic Games. Last summer Okimoto was unable to complete her race at the London Games because of the temperature of the water. Due to her inability to finish she was disqualified.
This summer, she took last year’s disappointment and turned it into furry, tearing up the water on her way to an incredible World Championships. Okimoto earned herself the silver in the women’s 5km behind USA’s Hayley Anderson. Okimoto took down Cunha and Maurer to win the women’s 10km race, and later on earned herself a bronze as part of the Brazilian team in the 5km team event.
With an incredible season, Okimoto had to truly step up in order to get this award. Of the four swimmers nominated, they accounted for an incredible eight medals out of 12 offered at the World Championships.
- Ana Cunha– Cunha’s performances made it easy to consider her for a tie for the award, however due to her lack of a gold medal at Worlds she will remain an honorable mention. Cunha competed at seven out of eight FINA World Cup stops, medalling at three of them. Cunha earned herself a gold, silver, and a bronze. Cunha also won two medals at Worlds and was just shy of a third. In the women’s 5km race she finished third behind Okimoto. In the women’s 10km race she finished second again behind Okimoto. In the women’s 25km race she was three seconds short of earning herself a bronze medal instead settling for fifth place. Cunha had herself an incredible season.
- Angela Maurer– Maurer was a close contender as well for the award, but her lack of in-season performances and a gold at Worlds kept her in the honorable mentions category. Maurer swam at three FINA World Cup stops, earning herself a fifth place finish and two sixth place finishes. Maurer truly stepped up her game at Worlds earning herself two medals. Maurer took the silver in the women’s 10km race behind Okimoto and Cunha. Maurer went on to beat Cunha in the 25km race, finishing second behind Martina Grimaldi to grab the silver medal.
- Martina Grimaldi– Grimaldi had an incredible season overall, swimming tons of in-season events. Grimaldi competed at five FINA World Cup stops picking up two golds an a bronze. At the Open Water Grand Prix Grimaldi had three big wins and one bronze medal performance finishing third overall.