What a year 2015 has been for British swimming, with high quality results and performances throughout the year. That makes picking the standout performers harder than it has been for several years, but pick we must. So without further ado, here are the results of the pullbuoy Swimmers of the Year for 2015. Let us know what you think on Twitter or leave a comment below.
This category was a two horse race in 2015 with a difficult decision to be made between Jazz Carlin and Siobhan Marie O’Connor. Both won bronze medals at the world championships, with O’Connor possibly delivering the better performance, but it was results in the small pool at the European SC championships that tipped the balance in favour of the Welsh lady.
It was in Netanya that Carlin completed her double-double of European 800m and 400m freestyle titles long and short course, and she touched out that arch SC racer Katinka Hosszu to win the shorter race into the bargain. It was a sign that perhaps there has been some improvement around the walls to go with true fast swimming Carlin has always had between them.
In Kazan speed between the walls was never going to be enough to challenge Katy Ledecky but Carlin battled well with Jessica Ashwood to snatch 800m bronze. In doing so she erased any lingering doubts from Barcelona in 2013 when she’d finished 4th in the 400m, which she also did this year, and then sunk like a stone in the longer events. This time round she was buoyant to the end and a trip to the podium was her reward.
Really who else could it be? There was a strong case for James Guy of course, but for his sheer dominance in world breaststroke this year it was only right that Adam Peaty should retain his title as pullbuoy Male Swimmer of the Year.
There was a worry that 2015 would prove to be the difficult second album after a masterly 2014, but we needn’t have worried. From the moment he set an astonishing world record in the 100m breaststroke at trials in April, to the moment he mounted the podium in Kazan to collect his third gold of the meet in the 50m breaststroke, reclaiming his world record that had been denied him by bureaucratic failings, Peaty has been a class apart.
A pair of short course defeats at the European championships were the only blemish on his year and demonstrated again that there is still more to come in his turns and underwater work as he works towards Rio. Having beaten all of the major contenders LC over the past two seasons he goes into the games with a huge target on his back, but it’s one those massive shoulders carry with ease. 2016 could be the next smash hit album.
2015 was quite a year for the young freestyler from Grangemouth. No sooner had he returned from the European Games in Baku with 6 medals in his luggage, including 3 gold and a 100-200 freestyle double, than he was off to make his senior GB debut at the world championships in Kazan. He’d been slated to swim in the 4×100 free team but was instead parachuted into the 4×200 squad for the heats and duly helped the morning team through to the final in third place with a solid anchor split. Competition for places in that team will be tough in 2016 but Scott has shown he has the credentials to be a key part.
Honourable mentions in this category must go to Luke Greenbank, the 2014 winner, who set a world junior record in the 200 back to win in Baku, and the 400 medley triumvirate of Abbie Wood, Rosie Rudin and Georgia Coates. Between them that trio secured a 1-2 finish at the World junior championships, Rudin setting a WJR ahead of Coates, while Wood took gold at the European Games.
2015 was the year that Tully Kearney really make her mark in para-swimming waters as she went home from the IPC world championships in Glasgow with a mighty impressive haul of 4 golds, a silver and a bronze.
Having been reclassified into the S9 class this year, Kearney took individual golds in the 400m freestyle, 200IM and 100 butterfly, all in European Record times, adding gold from the 34 point medley relay to her collection for good measure. Meanwhile in the 100m backstroke it took a world record from Australia’s Ellie Cole to keep her off the top step of the podium, and she added bronze in the 4×100 freestyle relay for good measure. Quite a year for the 18 year old.
An honourable mention to Ollie Hynd here; he took two golds and a bronze at the world championships, including breaking his older brother Sam’s world record in the SM8 400 freestyle.
Despite a late resurgence from Kerri-Anne Payne at the end of the year, a 5th placed finish at the World Championships combined with two wins on the marathon world cup circuit were enough for Jack Burnell to get the nod in this category. His placing in Kazan was earned him a place in the 10km at the Rio Olympics, making him the first Team GB athlete to confirm their spot at the Games. Racing in 2015 has improved Burnell’s tactical awareness and has shown enough to suggest he could be in the podium mix in Brazil.
As 2015 was something of a vintage year for GB there were many contenders for performance of the year. Adam Peaty had about 4, the mixed medley quartet who broke a world record on the way to a world title were another strong shout, while James Guy’s 200 freestyle world title was a close runner up.
In the end it was another relay, taking in the aforementioned Guy, that got the nod as the world champion men’s 4 x 200 freestyle team take the prize for their finals swim. It was a terrific race; after the heats it looked like it was on, but the US still looked like they might just edge it, bringing back as they were Ryan Lochte into their quartet. But GB were not to be denied; Dan Wallace, the surprise package on the lead off, with Robbie Renwick and Calum Jarvis both strong in the engine room, set up a thrilling final leg. The coup de grace was applied by Guy who mowed down the Americans in the last 25m to take a fabulous victory. A clear decision in the end.
Given he was male swimmer of the year for 2013, it might seem strange to name James Guy as the breakthrough swimmer of the year, but his previous award came from a year pretty thin on the ground in terms of British success. 2015 was the year he truly broke through to the top table of world swimming with some fantastic performances at the world championships which saw him home with gold in the 200m freestyle, silver in the 400m free and a not insignificant part in the gold won by the men’s 4×200 freestyle. In deed his form was so irresistible in Kazan that he popped up on the fly leg of the medley relay for good measure.
Guy is now firmly in the big time and will be a firm British hope for a medal in Rio. The 200m will not be an easy race to maintain his place at the top though, with Yannick Agnel and a certain M. Phelps looming in Brazilian waters, but the young shark from Millfield is an arch racer and he has a terrific chance to gain a place on the Olympic podium next year.
When you say special in relation to swimmers, there are several names that come to mind. Michael Phelps is one, Ian Thorpe another, but in 2015 Katie Ledecky earned the right to be thought of in the same bracket with a frankly incredible performance at the world championships. She won an unprecedented 200-400-800-1500 clean sweep and took the 800 free world record into the stratosphere. The 200m final was testament to her aura and reputation; the rest of the field looked nervous that she was there and swam their races around the American, leaving a clear run for her to take gold on the last lap.
Ledecky is now an almost unbackable favourite for the 400 and 800 in Rio; the biggest question is what she can do to her WR in the longer event. And those with eyes on the 400IM should keep tabs – Ledecky has been swimming those recently too…