Monday 6 January 2014

Top 50 Swimmers of 2013 - 20 to 11

The third annual Speed Endurance Top 50 Swimmers of the Year list is upon us. There is no set-in-stone criteria, but priority is given to achievements in Barcelona at the World Championships. World records and textile best times also carry a lot of weight. Other outstanding achievements away from Barcelona were acknowledged, but it took an extraordinary feat to better a World Championship medal. Also worth noting, as this is a list of the Top 50 individuals, relay medals did not come into play, however race-changing relay contributions were valued highly.

Top 50 Swimmers of 2013 - 50 to 41
Top 50 Swimmers of 2013 - 40 to 31
Top 50 Swimmers of 2013 - 30 to 21

20. Matt Grevers - 2013 Highlight: Winning the 100 backstroke in Barcelona as the only man sub-53 seconds. Grevers backed up his Olympic gold with his first individual world title. He also led-off the ill-fated medley relay team in 53.02. Although his times were down on 2012, he still showed that he is the man to beat when it comes to the 100m backstroke.

19. Daniel Gyurta - 2013 Highlight: Three-peating as world 200 breaststroke champion in 2:07.23, the second fastest time of all-time. Nobody other than Gyurta has stood at the top of the men's 200 breast podium at a world championships since 2007. The Hungarian also shook the short course world record to its core with his 2:00.72 effort at European SC, just 0.05 shy of his own 2009 mark. Very few other swimmers had as much dominance in one event as Gyurta did in 2013.

18. Lotte Friis - 2013 Highlight: Crushing the previous 1500 freestyle world record with her time of 15:38.88. Unfortunately for Friis, Katie Ledecky crushed it by a little more leaving the Dane to settle for silver in the race of the year. Friis bravely took on Ledecky in both the 800 and 1500 free leading both races until the latter parts. If there was a prize for gutsiest racer of the year, Friis would be my pick.

17. Sarah Sjostrom - 2013 Highlight: Getting back on the top of the 100 butterfly world podium, 4 years after her breakthrough in Rome. Sjostrom's victory in 56.53 was exceptional and the showdown between Sjostrom and Vollmer when they next meet will be electric. The Swede also shone in the 100 free final with silver in 52.89 as well as finishing the year with Top 10 ranked swims in 5 separate events.

16. Cameron van der Burgh - 2013 Highlight: Setting a new textile best time in the 50 breaststroke in a time of 26.77, just 0.1 seconds off his own world record. Although Van der Burgh missed out on the 100 breast world title, his speed was better than ever in 2013. Fortunately we should get to see a tapered rematch with the next swimmer on our list in 2014.

15. Christian Sprenger - 2013 Highlight: An excellent year for the Australian breaststroker winning gold in the 100 breaststroke in a time of 58.79, bettering last year's silver in London. He also finished just 0.01 behind van der Burgh's new textile best time in the 50 breaststroke final as well as an excellent 58.47 medley relay split to take the Australian's from 4th to 1st.

14. Jeremy Stravius - 2013 Highlight: Stravius is our highest ranked male not to win an individual gold medal. He makes it to such a lofty rank due to two excellent relay contributions. Taking over in 4th position after 300m in the 4x100 free relay, his 47.59 final leg took the Frenchman past Jimmy Feigen, Danila Izotov and James Roberts to give victory to the French quartet. He also put in a sterling effort in the victorious medley relay with his split of 51.33, the fastest of the field, from a backstroke specialist. Stravius ended the year with 6 Top 20 ranked LC swims, showing off his tremendous versatility

13. Cesar Cielo - 2013 Highlight: Cielo stepped up to the blocks in two events and left with two golds and a textile best time in the 50 free of 21.32. His 50 free final was another example of a big-time performance from the Brazilian in a major final. In a final that included all the big hitters, he won by a significant gap of 0.15 seconds. After skipping the event in Barcelona, the swimming world now awaits to see what type of form Cielo comes back to in the 100 freestyle.

12. Ranomi Kromowidjojo - 2013 Highlight: Difficult to pick a highlight between the 50 free world title and her new short course world record of 23.24 in the 50 free on home soil. Kromowidjojo did lose out to Cate Campbell and Sarah Sjostrom in the 100 free final but proved that when it comes to the shorter distance she still reigns supreme.

11. Ryan Lochte - 2013 Highlight: In a year that saw Lochte make moves to becoming more of a mainstream star which ended early with a freak accident, he was still able to pick up two individual golds in Barcelona. His victories in the 200 backstroke and 200 IM were won by some margin and he ended the year with Top 10 times in 5 different events. His 1:44.98 relay split was solid in the 4x200 free relay, but was overshadowed by Sun Yang's 1:43.16. Lochte was just announced as the FINA Male Swimmer of the Year, I have him as the No.3 ranked Male in 2013.


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