As Katie Ledecky‘s dominance has grown the last three years, the same woman has earned FINA’s Female Swimmer of the Year three straight times.
That would be Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu.
Michael Phelps and Hosszu were named this year’s Swimmer of the Year honorees on Sunday, the awards based largely on Rio Olympic performances (with a set points-based criteria).
Phelps earned five golds and one silver in Rio. He was the most decorated athlete of the Games across all sports for a fourth straight time and was the only male swimmer in Rio to earn three individual medals.
Phelps also received a special “Aquatic Legend, the Greatest of All Time,” award from FINA after retiring with a record 28 Olympic medals, including 23 golds. This came four years after FINA handed Phelps a trophy at the London Olympics declaring him “The Greatest Olympic Athlete of All Time” upon his first retirement.
Hosszu was the only swimmer to bag four individual medals in Rio, and three of them were gold. She is unquestionably the world’s best all-around female swimmer, sweeping the 200m and 400m individual medleys at the 2013 and 2015 World Championships and the Rio Games.
Ledecky’s mastery comes in a different form. She won the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyles in Rio, smashing her world records in the latter two. She also earned two relay medals, including anchoring the U.S. 4x100m freestyle relay with the sixth-fastest split of the field.
FINA’s criteria states that only individual events are taken into account for Swimmer of the Year purposes.
Outside of the Olympics, Hosszu holds an edge over Ledecky in World Swimmer of the Year consideration because the Hungarian cleans up at international World Cup stops, often swimming several races per day. Ledecky does not swim World Cups.
Ledecky did win Swimmer of the Year in 2013 (over Missy Franklin, after Franklin won six golds at the 2013 Worlds) and earned the female Performance of the Year for 2015 and 2016.
Other 2016 award winners included Great Britain’s Adam Peaty for male Performance of the Year, after he broke his 100m breaststroke world record twice in Rio.
Divers of the Year were Chinese gold medalists Chen Aisen and Shi Tingmao.
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