The Most Dominant Swimmers of 2021

Who were the 2021’s most dominant swimmers in their respective events?

Of course, the definition of “dominant” can be tricky. Swimming Stats’ Instagram page has published some lists, featuring swimmers who managed to set a high number of swims among the top 10 fastest performances of the year in long course meters.

Swimmers who appear with many swims among the fastest of the year typically are those who won the main titles and finished the year at #1, that is, very dominant swimmers.

Of course, there are a few exceptions. For example, in the women’s 100 butterfly, Zhang Yufei owns four of the ten fastest swims of the year. But it was Maggie MacNeil who won the Olympic gold medal and finished the year with the fastest time in the world – which was her only appearance among the top 10 fastest swims of 2021 in the event.

But this is a rare exception. Considering Olympic events, the most dominant swimmer in 2021 in terms of the number of swims among the 10-fastest performances is Katie Ledecky in the women’s 800 freestyle. She set eight of the 10 fastest swims of 2021, which is no surprise given she is undoubtedly one of the most dominant swimmers in history, undefeated in the event for over a decade, and the three-time Olympic champion.

If we also consider non-Olympic events, Benedetta Pilato set no less than nine of the 10 fastest swims of the year on the women’s 50 breaststroke, including setting the world record. However, many swimmers did not even race the 50m stroke events during 2021, opting to focus solely on Olympic events, so it’s not entirely fair to rank that as highly as Ledecky’s exploits, for example.

In five events, there were swimmers who registered seven of the 10 fastest swims of the year: Emma McKeon in the women’s 100 freestyle, Katie Ledecky in the women’s 800 freestyle, Zhang Yufei in the women’s 200 butterfly, Adam Peaty in the men’s 100 breast, and Kristóf Milák in the men’s 200 butterfly. It is worth noting that Peaty and Milák were probably the two most heavily favored to win Olympic gold medals in their events on the men’s side, and they were the only two swimmers who registered the seven fastest performances of the year in Olympic events — undisputed dominance.

Swimmers with the most swims in the 2021 top-10 fastest performances:

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Joel
18 days ago

Maybe a non American for the photo? Any chance?

swimming435
Reply to  Joel
18 days ago

No! And you will like it!

Rico23
Reply to  Joel
18 days ago

It’s almost as if the writers might be in America 😱

Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
Reply to  Joel
18 days ago

Cry about it

Swimbo
Reply to  Joel
18 days ago

Sorry Drongo, not this time.

SuperSwimmer 2000
Reply to  Joel
18 days ago

Or maybe one of the two swimmers with the top performances?

katie’s gator cap :)
Reply to  Joel
17 days ago

cope and seethe

HJones
18 days ago

I feel like everyone forgot KK went a 47.11 in the 100 FR in Tokyo semis. This is by far the most glaring omission considering “essentially” the same swim, Chalmer’s 47.08, is in the top 10.

Furthermore, I can’t understand how MA and NM’s 100 BR times are ranked above KK’s and Rylov 100 BK times.

There's no doubt that he's tightening up
18 days ago

Rylov/Kolesnikov’s 100 backs look a little low to me. They’re 4 and 5 all time, but very close to Ryan Murphy’s WR. Think they should be between Wang Shun and Michael Andrew.

Milak’s 49.68 should be number 5 for me. I know ZSC is proportionally closer to the WR, which is probably why he’s ranked higher, but IDK 49.45 is a more impressive WR than 2:06.

Also Zhang Yufei got done dirty by Liu Zige’s 2:01 lol.

Dressel and Bolt = Sprint GOATS
18 days ago

Daniel, wait until Dressel drop 20.6 in the 50 free next year and make your rubberized boy Cielo Fielho look like an age grouper.

Caeleb Remel Dressel is a genetic freak of nature.

Biden4dogcatcher
Reply to  Dressel and Bolt = Sprint GOATS
17 days ago

You speak the truth. He is also 10x better than any swimmer anywhere!

Joel
Reply to  Biden4dogcatcher
17 days ago

Yeah…. No

JimSwim22
18 days ago

I would be interested in who had the most top 10 swims total, all events summarized

Last edited 18 days ago by JimSwim22