SwimSwam Rio Olympics Awards: Phelps and Ledecky Swimmers of the Meet

The Olympics are over in the pool. Here are SwimSwam’s award for the swimmers who swam out of their minds this week and deserve some recognition.

MALE SWIMMER OF THE MEET: Michael Phelps, United States

What a way to cap off the greatest career as we know it. Phelps pulled out a nail-biting win in the 200 fly, defeated Lochte one more time in the 200 IM, and swam to the strangest three-way tie in the 100 fly. He also provided monster splits on the 400 free and 400 medley relays, and anchored the 800 free relay as well, grabbing golds in all three of those races. He finishes his swimming career with twenty-eight medals (28), twenty-three (23) of them gold. He is the greatest athlete of all time, and he showed that in Rio.

HONORABLE MENTION (in no particular order)

  • Adam Peaty, Great Britain (100 breast champion, 100 breast World Record breaker)
  • Ryan Murphy, United States (3 gold medals, backstroke sweep, 100 back World Record

FEMALE SWIMMER OF THE MEET: Katie Ledecky, United States

Ledecky is awesome. She broke two world records (by a combined 3.80 seconds), earned a whopping four gold medals, and was incredible on the free relays. Her sprints are becoming world-class, and her longer races are, well, football fields ahead of the rest of the world. Ledecky has six golds at the age of 19, and it seems that her own world records are in jeopardy every single time she dives into the water. Ledecky looked almost mortal in a crazy-close race with Sarah Sjostrom in the 200 free, but the way she pulled it off in the end simply reflects who she is: a true champion.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

  • Katinka Hosszu, Hungary (3 golds, 1 silver, World Records in 200 IM/400 IM)
  • Sarah Sjostrom (1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze, World Record in 100 fly)

MALE ROOKIE OF THE MEET: Adam Peaty, Great Britain

GBR’s Adam Peaty has taken men’s breaststroke to incredible new heights– his 57.13 in the 100 breast final was downright insane. As if the world wasn’t impressed enough, he blasted the fastest-ever split by a huge margin in the 400 medley relay, splitting a 56.59. What! Yes. Peaty is one of several young guns who are kicking it up several notches for the Brits, who should only be getting stronger and stronger in the near future.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

  • Kyle Chalmers, Australia (100 free gold)
  • Dmitriy Balandin, Kazakhstan (200 breast champion)
  • Ryan Murphy, United States (2 individual golds, 100 back World Record)

FEMALE ROOKIE OF THE MEET: Penny Oleksiak, Canada

The Canadian teenager Penny Oleksiak has had a huge year, breaking WJR’s left and right. It had been speculated that Oleksiak, who only just recently turned 16, might still be too young to break out on the world’s biggest stage. Tokyo 2020 was supposed to be her time to rule. That was four years too far away for her, though, as she swam her way to a gold in the 100 free in the biggest upset of the meet, adding a silver in the 100 fly and also providing world-class relay splits in all of Canada’s relays. Like Peaty, but perhaps more so in her case, Oleksiak represents a huge spike in talent in Canadian women’s swimming. They have made their presence known in Rio, and with most of the talent being concentrated in their younger swimmers, the future is looking incredibly bright.

HONORABLE MENTIONS (in no particular order)

  • Maya Dirado, United States (200 back champion)
  • Simone Manuel, United States (100 free champion)

MALE SWIM OF THE MEET: Adam Peaty (100 breast)

Adam Peaty, like we said before, has taken breaststroke to new heights. His rapid turnover only quickens as he gets into his rhythm, and any myths or speculation that a full, long glide in breaststroke was they key to success has been blown apart by Peaty’s technique. It’s not conventional, but it reminds us of Rebecca Soni. Whether or not it’s “normal,” who on God’s green earth can argue against it?! Peaty is the fastest flat-start 100 breaststroker in history by almost a second-and-a-half. That is absolutely stunning. 57.13 is a ridiculous benchmark– his 57.92 from last year already seemed unattainable enough. It’s hard to imagine anybody coming remotely close to this record any time soon, besides him, of course.

HONORABLE MENTIONS (in no particular order)

  • Dmitriy Balandin (200 breast)
  • Kyle Chalmers (100 free)
  • Michael Phelps (200 IM)
  • Joseph Schooling (100 fly)

FEMALE SWIM OF THE MEET: Katie Ledecky (800 free)

It’s hard to pick between Ledecky’s 400 and 800 free, but her 800 was special because she won it by so. Damn. Much. Ledecky his the wall in 8:04.79, and it was MORE THAN 10 SECONDS until anyone else found their touch pad. Ledecky has changed the sport of swimming, and she continues to trek into the realm of the impossible and, suddenly, makes it her reality. There’s a chance that she’ll never be faster than the time she just put down in that– but, if we had to bet, we’d put money on her breaking that record again. If anyone’s going to do it…. It’s Katie Ledecky.

HONORABLE MENTIONS (in no particular order)

  • Simone Manuel/Penny Oleksiak (100 free)
  • Maya Dirado (200 back)
  • Katinka Hosszu (400 IM)
  • Sarah Sjostrom (100 fly)
  • Pernille Blume (50 free)

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A non-e mouse
5 years ago

Best. Olympics. Ever!
Only pick I would challenge would be Murphy for male swimmer of the meet, breaking a legendary WR! But the GOAT certainly is deserving as well

Sergey v
Reply to  A non-e mouse
5 years ago

I’m sorry, peirsol’s 100 back WR from 2009 is not legendary.
We have used and misused the word legendary too often that it has lost its meaning.

Joe
5 years ago

Upset of the meet gotta be Pernille Blume. Not only did she win, but she won it in a time that not even the favorites were sure to beat, and they swam decently well behind her. In the other upsets the favorites underwhelmed in varying degrees.

Performer of the meet is Peaty for me. Absolute massacre in a sprint event, and I don’t even think only one event matters because it was that good.

AvidSwimFan
5 years ago

Only thing I would change is Male rookie of the meet is Ryan Murphy.

Jimswim
Reply to  AvidSwimFan
5 years ago

I gotta agree. Two Erins and one record is above one stunning record. But very close call.

Cheatinvlad
Reply to  AvidSwimFan
5 years ago

I could get behind that primarily because Murphy swam two individual events. Peaty just one, although a hell of a swim, he didn’t even swim the 200 BR.

Gina
5 years ago

This was an amazing meet with Team GB stepping up and USA Swimming being as dominant as ever.

Both Adam Peaty and Ryan Murphy had great first Olympic meets but Peaty broke the world record by a large amount and was so far ahead of his rivals therefore gets the title over Murphy (in my opinion).

Swim website of the Meet goes to SwimSwam for their awesome coverage. They do such a great job and covering not just US swimmers but every aspect of swimming. Just wish we had the same coverage and excitement for swimming in Great Britain.

Swammerjammer
Reply to  Gina
5 years ago

YES! Gold medal for Olympic swim reporting and journalism goes to SwimSwam! Thank you SwimSwam for the excellent work (as usual). It has been a great year in swimming, globally!

Pvdh
5 years ago

I get that peaty was remarkable but Murphy won 2 golds individually and broke a WR. He should be male rookie of the meet.

M Palota
Reply to  Pvdh
5 years ago

Normally I’d agree but 57.13 is so insane! That plus 56.59 on the relay seals it for me: Adam Peaty is the make rookie of the meet.

That’s not to take anything away from Ryan Murphy because he, too, had a hella meet. It’s just that Peaty’s swim where so otherworldly.

Philip Johnson
Reply to  Pvdh
5 years ago

Pretty close between the two of them, but I would go with Peaty as he was utterly dominate. And given it was the 100 breast made it even more impressive.

Steve Nolan
5 years ago

Maya DiRado with the assist.

Norn Iron Swim
5 years ago

Think this is a little unfair on Hosszu. She’d no relays to get the extra golds to boost her own count. Her 4im was so rapid and the fact the she smashed Ye’s record is a testament to how good it really was. A (suspect) WR by over 2 seconds and winning the race by nearly 5. It’s rare I disagree with swimswam, because you do the most excellent job of covering the sport, but this feels a bit US biased. I may be wrong but thanks for the excellent coverage.

swammer
Reply to  Norn Iron Swim
5 years ago

This… this!

swimswamswum
Reply to  Norn Iron Swim
5 years ago

Yeah but Ledecky won her 400 by 5 seconds as well- and broke her own record by 2 seconds- which, previously, was an amazing world record (3:59.1 by Pelligrini)….so your argument isn’t necessarily very strong

Norn Iron Swim
Reply to  swimswamswum
5 years ago

Very fair comment.
2 things for me though. It was Ledecky’s own record. I think that makes a difference over, what many of us think, was a tainted swim. And I was arguing against the 800 being the swim of the meet. A very good case, as you pointed out, could be made for her 400 being the better of her swims.

R&R
Reply to  Norn Iron Swim
5 years ago

I was going to agree, then Hosszu lost the 200 back. If she had won that I would have given it to her, as it happened, I agree with the Ledecky pick.

Spectatorn
Reply to  Norn Iron Swim
5 years ago

I agree. Hosszu also swam relay 800 free relay, both prelim (singlehandedly bring the relay to final) and final. Relay medal is team effort and she put up a good fight and that is as admirable as winning any color of medal in that relay.
Hosszu is strong in back stroke but not overwhelming favorite. It is impressive to win gold and silver in both events besides the two IMs where she was favorite to win.

rockjano
Reply to  Norn Iron Swim
5 years ago

YES I also think it is unfair to Hosszu. No question about the greatness of Ledecky but Hosszu’s 400IM was really amazing

Years of Plain Suck
5 years ago

Nice list, and I pretty much agree.

But you left off COACH OF THE MEET. That’s a close one between Shane Tussup (his one swimmer won 3 golds and a silver), and Greg Meehan (his three swimmers won 4 golds, 4 silvers, and 1 bronze). 🙂

Speaking of coaches, how about Eddie Reese? I read that Schooling received in the neighborhood of $750,000 for his gold. How about Eddie? This is pure speculation on my part, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Eddie got a nice performance bonus as well for his efforts as Singapore coach.

coacherik
Reply to  Years of Plain Suck
5 years ago

Dave Durden didn’t have to bad of a meet either, if you include Ervin, Cal men had 4 medalists, 6 out of a possible 7 individual chances, Pebley as a 5th place and swimmers on 2 of the 3 men’s relays.

coacherik
Reply to  coacherik
5 years ago

Sorry, forgot about shields..

A non-e mouse
Reply to  coacherik
5 years ago

So did everyone else
Other than me 😀
Tom Shields for lyfe

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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