SwimSwam Pulse: 42% Pick ‘Other’ In Split Vote Over Top Woman of 2020

SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side, or you can find the poll embedded at the bottom of this post.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers to pick the top women’s swimmer of the year 2020:


Question: Who was the world’s best female swimmer in 2020?

Voters were completely split on the best women’s swimmer of the year 2020, with 43% voting for ‘someone else’ over Kaylee McKeown (26%) and Lilly King (18%).

McKeown was one of just two women to set an individual world record in 2020. She went 1:58.94 to break the world 200 back record. But her resume was also stacked with high-level long course results, including a barrier-breaking 57.93 in the 100 back and 2:04.46 in the 200 back. Both sit #1 in the world for the season.

It appears voters might have been considering a different backstroker with their ‘someone else’ votes. Kira Toussaint set a world record in the 50 back twice in 2020, first going 25.60 in the ISL semifinals and then equaling that time at the Amsterdam Christmas meet a month later. Toussaint does sit second to McKeown in the long course 100 back and leads the world in the long course 50 back with a 27.37 this year. But she did finish well behind McKeown in the short course 100 back, and it seems likely that had McKeown competed in the ISL, she would have separated herself more from Toussaint in this poll.

Lilly King set no individual world records this year, but had a dominant win streak in the ISL. King won 34 consecutive races in the ISL without a loss. More than half (18) of those consecutive wins came in the year 2020. And even after dropping a couple of events late in the grueling ISL season, King won 36 of 39 races, including a league-high five skin races.

Regan Smith made our poll for her early-season brilliance. It feels like a million years ago, but it was only March (pre-COVID pandemic) when Smith was dominating the Pro Swim Series, going 58.26 in the 100 back in Knoxville, then 58.18 in Des Moines. Considering the world record was just 58.0 before Smith got ahold of it, those were incredibly dominant in-season swims, and had pretty much set Smith up to win the Pro Swim Series title unless someone else managed a world-record swim.

The only other world records in 2020 on the women’s side were a Dutch 4×50 free relay in short course meters (headed by a 23.0 leadoff from Ranomi Kromowidjojo) and a Cali Condors/USA short course 4×100 medley relay (featuring King on a 1:02.40 breaststroke leg).

Outside of Toussaint, voters may have been considering Katie Ledecky (still the world leader for 2020 with times of 1:54.5/3:59.6/8:16.2/15:29.2 in long course free), Beryl Gastaldello (third in ISL MVP scoring) or Sarah Sjostrom (fifth in ISL MVP scoring despite missing one meet) with their ‘someone else’ votes.


Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks voters whether Sun Yang will be able to compete in the Tokyo Olympics or not:

Will Sun Yang swim at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021?

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A3 Performance is an independently-owned, performance swimwear company built on a passion for swimming, athletes, and athletic performance. We encourage swimmers to swim better and faster at all ages and levels, from beginners to Olympians.  Driven by a genuine leader and devoted staff that are passionate about swimming and service, A3 Performance strives to inspire and enrich the sport of swimming with innovative and impactful products that motivate swimmers to be their very best – an A3 Performer.

The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner

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22 days ago

I am debating between McKeown and Ledecky, can’t decide!

22 days ago

Ledecky barely swam in meets so she loses.

Reply to  Taa
22 days ago

Wait, Ledecky had top times in the world in four LCM events ranging from 200 thru 1500, and there’s even a debate here? She swam in three LCM meets this past season (Greensboro, Atlanta and Des Moines) and also swam ISL in 2019-20 season and broke the American SCM record in the 400 Free.

Reply to  Swim20
22 days ago

McKeown has world leading times in 3 LCM and 2 SCM including a world record and #2 time in another LCM event. The award is for 2020 not 2019-2020.

22 days ago

True- but would be nice to share the award with a newcomer who has swum out of her skin this year…..

Mr Piano
22 days ago

I recommend that swim swam uses a ranked choice voting system

22 days ago

How does Smith make this poll and Ledecky doesn’t?

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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