Sjostrom Clear Choice, Peaty To Clip Dressel for FINA Swimmer of Year

UPDATE: We’re told by a source with knowledge of the scoring system that World Champs points will be accounted differently, causing Dressel to win this award instead of Peaty. You can read a fuller explanation here.

Each year, FINA announces its male and female Swimmers of the Year, and in 2015, the swimming federation announced a point-based system to determine winners. Since we at SwimSwam don’t like to wait until Christmas to unwrap our presents, we dug through the formula to come up with the presumptive winners, though two of the four point categories are still in flux.

The upshot is that Sarah Sjostrom appears set to run away with the title on the women’s side, while a tight men’s battle should go to Adam Peaty over Caeleb Dressel by virtue of Peaty’s two world record swims in the 50 breast.

First, a quick look at the point system:

FINA World Swimmer of the Year Points

Athletes earn points in four different categories: World Champs rankings, World Cup standings, world records and World Rankings. As far as we can tell, these points are accrued over the calendar year 2017, beginning in January 2017 and continuing on through at least the end of the 2017 World Cup. We’ve reached out for clarification from FINA on exact start and end dates for these points, but haven’t yet received a response.

SWIMMING Olympic Games & FINA World Championships (50m & 25m) (1) FINA Swimming World Cup (2) WR bonus
World Rankings (4)
1 180 120 75 25
2 140 90 20
3 130 80 15
4 100 60 10
5 90 50 5
6 80 40
7 70 35
8 60 30
9 40 25
10 35 20
11 30 15
12 25 10

Chart comes directly from FINA’s criteria page.

World Champs rankings: 

FINA has a similar, but separate points system for determining the Swimmer of the Meet for its World Championship events. Swimmers earn 5 points for each individual gold medal, 3 for silver, 2 for bronze and 1 for fourth. Individual world records carry a 2-point bonus for each time the record is broken. So Peaty, who broke the 50 breast record in heats and semis, earned 4 world record points.

The top 12 swimmers from this year’s World Champs earn Swimmer of the Year points ranging from 180 (for the Swimmer of the Meet) to 25 (for the 12th-best finisher in Swimmer of the Meet points). This year’s winners were Sjostrom and Dressel. Here’s a look at our compiled list of the top 12 for both men and women:


Rank Name Bonus
World Champ Points
1 Caeleb Dressel 180 16
2 Adam Peaty 140 14
3 Sun Yang 130 10
3 Chase Kalisz 130 10
5 Gabriele Detti 90 8
6 Gregorio Paltrinieri 80 7
6 Ben Proud 80 7
8 Ryan Murphy 60 5
8 Matt Grevers 60 5
8 Xu Jiayu 60 5
8 Mack Horton 60 5
8 Evgeny Rylov 60 5
8 Anton Chupkov 60 5
8 Chad le Clos 60 5
8 Camille Lacourt 60 5


Rank Name Bonus
World Champ Points
1 Sarah Sjostrom 180 22
2 Katie Ledecky 140 18
3 Lilly King 130 15
3 Katinka Hosszu 130 15
5 Mireia Belmonte 90 12
6 Yulia Efimova 80 10
7 Emily Seebohm 70 8
8 Kylie Masse 60 7
8 Simone Manuel 60 7
10 Ranomi Kromowidjojo 35 6
11 Kathleen Baker 30 5
11 Katie Meili 30 5
11 Emma McKeon 30 5
11 Federica Pellegrini 30 5
11 Leah Smith 30 5
11 Li Bingjie 30 5
11 Etiene Medeiros 30 5

World Cup Standings

The top 12 swimmers in World Cup points also earn bonuses toward Swimmer of the Year. The World Cup is still ongoing, but will wrap up in mid-November. Here’s the current standings with three meets to go:


Rank Athlete Bonus
World Cup Points
1 Chad le Clos 120 311
2 Kirill Prigoda 90 201
3 Vladimir Morozov 80 189
4 Tom Shields 60 186
5 Cameron van der Burgh 50 153
6 Christian Diener 40 99
7 Ilya Shymanovich 35 84
8 Gabriele Detti 30 75
9 Radoslaw Kawecki 25 72
10 Pavel Sankovich 20 63
11 Masaki Kaneko 15 51
12 Philip Heintz 10 48


Rank Athlete Bonus
World Cup Points
1 Sarah Sjostrom 120 446
2 Katinka Hosszu 90 359
3 Ranomi Kromowidjojo 80 182
4 Emily Seebohm 60 174
5 Alia Atkinson 50 153
6 Mireia Belmonte 40 122
7 Femke Heemskerk 35 102
8 Rikke Moller Pedersen 30 84
9 Maalke De Waard 25 57
10 Zhang Yufei 20 42
11 Li Bingjie 15 39
12 Federica Pellegrini 10 30

World Records

Every individual world record broken in both long course and short course earns a 75-point bonus. Here’s a tally of all the individual world records we dug up from the year 2017:

  • Ippei Watanabe 200 breast LCM: 2:06.67, Kitajima Cup
  • Adam Peaty 50 breast LCM: 26.10, Worlds heats
  • Adam Peaty 50 breast LCM: 25.95, Worlds semifinals
  • Sarah Sjostrom 50 free LCM: 23.67, Worlds semifinals
  • Sarah Sjostrom 100 free LCM: 51.71, Worlds relay leadoff
  • Sarah Sjostrom 50 free SCM: 23.10, Moscow World Cup
  • Sarah Sjostrom 100 free SCM: 50.77, Moscow World Cup
  • Sarah Sjostrom 100 free SCM: 50.58, Eindhoven World Cup
  • Sarah Sjostrom 200 free SCM: 1:50.43, Eindhoven World Cup
  • Lilly King 50 breast LCM: 29.40, Worlds final
  • Lilly King 100 breast LCM: 1:04.13, Worlds final
  • Kylie Masse 100 back LCM: 58.10, Worlds final
  • Katinka Hosszu 100 IM SCM: 56.51, Berlin World Cup
  • Mireia Belmonte 400 IM SCM: 4:18.94, Eindhoven World Cup
  • Ranomi Kromowidjojo 50 free SCM: 22.93, Berlin World Cup
  • Cate Campbell 100 free SCM: 50.25, Australian Championships

World Rankings

The top 5 swimmers in the world rankings in every individual event also earn points. This is a source of some confusion, though – we’ve asked FINA when the qualifying period for world rankings spots opens and closes, but haven’t yet received a response. At this point, it appears the 2017 Swimmer of the Year award is for the calendar year 2017, meaning the world rankings would cover all swims done in the year 2017. The award is announced on December 2. It’s possible the world ranks go through that day, or that they close on an unspecified earlier date. Or, it’s conceivable that FINA is using the 2016-2017 season as boundaries, meaning the qualifying period would be September 2016 – August 2017. We’ll update if we receive clarification from FINA.

One twist here: world records don’t receive world ranking points – essentially that means a world record earns that 75-point bonus, but not the 25 points for being (likely) the #1 time in the world for the year.


2017 Winners

By our math, Sarah Sjostrom should run away with the women’s title on account of a whopping 6 world records: LCM 100 free, LCM 50 free, SCM 50 free (since broken), SCM 100 free (twice, since broken) and SCM 200 free. That alone accounts for 450 points. Sjostrom also earns 180 as Swimmer of the World Championships and is in line for 120 if she holds her lead on the World Cup tour.

She’s got 750 points without even factoring in world rankings. No one else has more than 300. Katinka Hosszu is next-closest with 295 plus world rankings points.

Things are much more interesting on the men’s side. Swimmer of the World Championships Caeleb Dressel takes a 40-point lead over Adam Peaty by virtue of Worlds overall finish. But Peaty earns 150 points in world records to push to a 290-180 lead.

Dressel does top the world ranks currently in the 50 free, 100 free and 100 fly, plus sits 4th in the 50 fly. That gives him 85 world rank points, with no short course meter points to speak of. Still, Peaty holds a 290-265 lead, and gets his own world rankings boost in the long course 100 breast. (His 50 breast doesn’t earn world ranking points as it nabbed the 75-point world record bonus). Peaty doesn’t currently have any short course top-5 world ranked swims, but should still win the award regardless.

The only way for Dressel to steal the award would be to jump into a short course meters pool and swim two world-leading times and another top-5 time prior to the end of the qualifying period – which, again, is still unclear.

Here’s a look at the rough leaderboard – remember that World Cup points are still likely to change over the final cluster, and that world ranking points can also change. However, the bulk of the points under this system (World Champs and world record points) are pretty much locked in at this point. We only included current world ranking points inasmuch as we needed them to more accurately project a close race on the men’s side. As neither Peaty nor Dressel should get any short course world rank points, we only included long course events. For the women, Sjostrom should win regardless of world rank points, so we didn’t factor those in for simplicity’s sake.

Men’s Rankings

These numbers include long course meter world rankings in all events to compare Peaty & Dressel further.

Name TOTAL: Worlds World Cup* WR World Rankings**
Adam Peaty 315 140 150 25
Caeleb Dressel 265 180 85
Chad le Clos 205 60 120 25
Sun Yang 180 130 50
Chase Kalisz 180 130 50
Gabriele Detti 175 90 30 55
Gregorio Paltrinieri 120 80 40
Xu Jiayu 120 60 60
Ben Proud 110 80 30

*World Cup points as of October 26

**Long course world ranking points only as of October 26

Women’s Rankings

These numbers do not include any world ranking points, as the winner is already obvious without factoring them in.

Name TOTAL: Worlds World Cup* WR
Sarah Sjostrom 750 180 120 450
Katinka Hosszu 295 130 90 75
Lilly King 280 130 150
Mireia Belmonte 205 90 40 75
Ranomi Kromowidjojo 190 35 80 75
Katie Ledecky 140 140
Kylie Masse 135 60 75
Emily Seebohm 130 70 60
Yulia Efimova 80 80
Cate Campbell 75 75

*World Cup points as of October 26

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Steve Nolan

“The only way for Dressel to steal the award would be to jump into a short course meters pool and swim two world-leading times and another top-5 time prior to the end of the qualifying period – which, again, is still unclear.”

Storming a random SCM meet the day of the deadline would be swell.


When is the deadline? Peaty is due to swim a few SCM meets culminating in Euro SCs champs in December.

FINA won’t tell us the deadline. We’ve asked.


he would need to rest some to put world leading times up and I doubt he’ll be resting much between now and the deadline

Steve Nolan

He’s Caeleb Dressel. He will swim all 3 world-leading times in back to back to back heats.


But Joe Schooling could also do a SCM meet the same day – top ranking times in the 50, 100, 200 free and fly (150 points), maybe 6 world records in fly events, 3 in prelims, 3 in finals, 525 points and the run away winner.


I heard he did exactly that in practice last week

Years of Plain Suck

Here’s the solution: throw in Caeleb’s NCAA times from last March. Nothing is so out-of-this-world as his 40:00 in the 100 free. Low 18 in the 50 and low 43 in the 100 fly should count for something as well!


The scm conversions would have him at a 48.34 100 fly, a 44.40 100 free, and a 20.20 50 free. Those would be world records in the freestyle (.50 in the 100 and .06 in the 50), take that as you will with your own faith in Swim Swam’s time converter. The 100 fly would be .26 off the WR, so probably the world leading time as well.


.54 in the 100


I don’t think dressel can go 20.20/44.40 in scm sprints

Aussie crawl

Imperial doesn’t count.


Concerning Peaty’s two WR bonuses in the LCM 50 breast; are you certain that FINA allows more than one WR bonus per event? FINA has already set the restriction that if a swimmer receives a 75 points WR bonus, they lose the 25 points world ranking bonus in the same event, effectively reducing the total WR bonus to 50 points (75-25). Why then would FINA award 75 unrestricted points for a second WR in the same event – an effectively larger reward than from the first WR? I’m bringing this up because IF the WR bonus is restricted to 75 points PER EVENT, then Dressel suddenly has more overall points than Peaty. In any case, it couldn’t hurt asking FINA… Read more »

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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