This award is given to the male swimmer with the greatest single individual race of the year, with special emphasis on the 2019 FINA World Championships.
Caeleb Dressel, 50m Freestyle, 2019 FINA World Championships
July 27, 2019 marked a historic day for Dressel, as he won three world championships gold medals in a single day for the second time in his career. Dressel dominated from start to finish in this race and came out on top in 21.04, marking the fastest 50m freestyle in the past 10 years and the fourth-best swim of all time. The performance also bettered his own American record in the event, giving him five American records set in Gwangju. With the 50m victory, Dressel also repeated his sweep in the 50 and 100m freestyles from 2017, joining Russian swimming legend Alexander Popov as the only swimmer to ever sweep the events at two different world championships.
Caeleb Dressel, 100m Freestyle, 2019 FINA World Championships
Dressel set an American record when he turned in the third-fastest performance in history with a time of 46.96 in the 100m free at the 2019 FINA World Championships, besting reigning Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers of Australia for the gold by twelve-hundredths of a second. With the win, Dressel became the first American to win back-to-back gold medals in the event since Matt Biondi in 1991. Not only was Dressel’s 46.96 time a new American record, but it marked the first time an American has cracked the 47-second mark.
Caeleb Dressel, 50m Butterfly, 2019 FINA World Championships
The first of four individual gold medals for Dressel came by way of the 50m butterfly, an event that no American had previously won on the world championships stage. While just eight-hundredth of a second shy of world-record time, Dressel’s time of 22.35 was the second-best swim in history and was good for a new championship and American record. The impressive swim, along with his 22.57 semifinals swim, are the only two American performances inside top-10 all-time swims in the event.
Caeleb Dressel, 100m Butterfly (sf), 2019 FINA World Championships
Dressel surprised even himself with his quickness when he broke Michael Phelps’ 10-year-old world record during semifinals of the 100m butterfly at the 2019 FINA World Championships. His time of 49.50 broke the mark by .32. Dressel later went on to become just the fourth man to win multiple titles in this event when he won his fifth gold medal of the World Championships, posting the second-fastest time ever in the event (49.66) during finals.
Jay Litherland, 400m Individual Medley, 2019 FINA World Championships
Midway through the race, Litherland was clearly in position to earn a medal in the 400m individual medley at the World Championships in Gwangju. However the gold medal seemed unlikely as he turned at 300m some 3.3 seconds behind leader Daiya Seto, the two-time world champion from Japan. At the 350m mark, Litherland was still over two seconds behind Seto, but he did not give up, and closed with a blazing freestyle split of 56.99 to finish with a silver medal, just .27 behind Seto. It was the first international medal for the 23-year-old Athens Bulldog swimmer.