MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
This award is given to the top male swimmer of the year with special emphasis on achievements at the 2019 FINA World Championships.
A dominating series of swims in Gwangju left 22-year-old Caeleb Dressel with one of the most memorable world championships performances in the 46-year history of the competition. Dressel’s eight world championships medals was a mark that no other swimmer has ever accomplished, while his six gold medals tied for the third-most by a male swimmer at a single world championships competition since 1973. Dressel also added his name to the record books by recording world records in the 100m butterfly and as part of the mixed 4x100m freestyle relay, while also capturing American records in the 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle and 50m butterfly. His American-record-breaking performance in the 50m butterfly also earned Dressel the first gold by an American in the event’s history. On the second-to-last day in Gwangju, he won three gold medals in one day, which has only been accomplished once before — also by Dressel in 2017.
FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
This award is given to the top female swimmer of the year with special emphasis on achievements at the 2019 FINA World Championships.
The 22-year-old breaststroke phenom proved herself in Gwangju, totaling three gold and one silver medal to become the second-winningest American female in the competition. King defended her 2017 world titles in the 50 and 100m breaststroke in impressive fashion, becoming the only swimmer in the 100m breaststroke to go sub-1:05 and the only swimmer in the 50m breaststroke to touch in under 30 seconds. Prior to her success in South Korea, King’s 2019 was highlighted by NCAA titles in the 100 and 200y breaststroke, making her the winningest breaststroker in NCAA history with eight career titles.
While Katie Ledecky left Gwangju short of what she wanted to accomplish; her 2019 season was still one of tremendous success. Along with her world title in the 800m freestyle, Ledecky claimed silver in the 400m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle relay, increasing her world championships career-medal total to 18, which is the second-highest total by a female all-time, behind Natalie Coughlin’s 20. Domestically, Ledecky saw tremendous success at TYR Pro Swim Series events, becoming the only female swimmer in the nation to win 10 events, which she did in just three TYR Pro Swim Series appearances.
Simone Manuel finished the 2019 FINA World Championships with more medals than any woman at a single FINA World Championships when she brought home seven – four gold and three silver. She also became the first American woman to win the 50m freestyle at the World Championships since Amy Van Dyken in 1998. She is also the only American woman to win both the 50 and 100m freestyles at the World Championships. In addition to her two American records set in Gwangju, she also anchored the mixed 4x100 free relay and the 4x100 medley relay to two world records.
Regan Smith made the most of her time in Gwangju, as she came away with gold medals in the two events she competed in—the 200m backstroke and women’s 4x100m medley relay. The Minnesota native also set new world records in the 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke and as part of the women’s 4x100m medley relay. While her performance in Gwangju was the highlight of her 2019 season, Smith also won five TYR Pro Swim Series events and captured a Phillips 66 National Championships title in the 200m butterfly.