Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Top 50 Swimmers of 2013 - The Top 10

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
Top 50 Swimmers of 2013 - 20 to 11

This is it. The final installment takes us from number 10 to this year's number 1 swimmer of 2013.

10. Chad le Clos - 2013 Highlight: Emerged as the undisputed best male fly swimmer in the world. Two decisive victories in the 100 and 200 fly gave the South African his first world titles. Le Clos then backed up his Barcelona performance by twice lowering the short course world record in the 200 fly and taking home $305,000 in prize money as the Top Male on the World Cup tour.

9. Rikke Moller Pedersen - 2013 Highlight: Her superb world record of 2:19.11 in the 200 breast semi-final in Barcelona. Although Yulia Efimova was able to get past the Dane in the final of the event, Moller Pedersen's world record still stands. The 200 breaststroke event has turned on its head since Rebecca Soni's domination at London 2012 with Pedersen leading the revolution.

8. Mireia Belmonte - 2013 Highlight: Belmonte is the highest ranked non-world champion on this year's list. She makes it this high thanks to the overall strength of her 2013. She set three short course world records, picked up two silvers (200 fly, 400 IM) and a bronze (200 IM) in Barcelona and ended the year with 6 Top 20 ranked long course times, which was only bettered by her Hungarian rival who appears a little higher up this list.

7. Cate Campbell - 2013 Highlight: Leading off the Australian 4x100 freestyle relay in a new textile best time of 52.33 on day one at worlds before following that up with gold in the 100 free individual event in 52.34 and silver in the 50 free in 24.14. Campbell's 52.09 relay split in the medley relay also turned a bronze into a silver for Australia. Watch out in 2014, Britta Steffen's world record of 52.07 which once seemed light years away from the current crop of sprinters, suddenly seems within reach for the Australian freestyler.

6. Sun Yang - 2013 Highlight: The Chinese distance star is our top ranked male for 2013. It shows how much further ahead of the rest of the world he is when he can have an off-year by his high time standards and still win the 400, 800 and 1500 free world titles comfortably. His most impressive swim in Barcelona was arguably his 1:43.16 split in the 4x200 free relay which was 1.8 seconds faster than any other split and took China from 5th up to 3rd. Frustratingly it also showed us what kind of competition he could have given Yannick Agnel in the 200 individual event.

5. Missy Franklin - 2013 Highlight: There were no world records or textile best times for Franklin in 2013, but she secured three world titles (200 free, 100 back, 200 back) and had two stand-out relay performances in the 4x100 medley (58.39 backstroke split) and 4x200 freestyle (1:54.27 final leg, moving USA from 2nd to 1st in the process). Having a 6-time gold medalist at number 5 goes to show just how strong a year 2013 was for women in the pool.

4. Katinka Hosszu - 2013 Highlight: The Iron Lady of swimming was able to combine her incredibly tough schedule of racing with success on the biggest stage with victories at the World Championships in the 200 and 400 IM, as well as bronze in the 200 fly. While her performances in Barcelona were impressive, Hosszu then put together a magnificent short course season setting an incredible 6 new world records as well picking up the Top Female award (and $365,500 in prize money) from the world cup tour.

3. Yuliya Efimova - 2013 Highlight: The Russian breaststroke ace proved that she saves her best for the races that matter the most. Efimova went into the 50 and 200 breaststroke finals in Barcelona as the underdog to a world record setter in the semi-final. On both occasions she got to the wall first in times that shook the new world records, but ultimately didn't topple them. She also finished the year in great form setting two short course world records to go alongside the 50 breast world record she set in the Barcelona heats (that ultimately lasted less than a day).

2. Ruta Meilutyte - 2013 Highlight: It was incredibly difficult to split Efimova and Meilutyte and ultimately it came down to how much long course world records were valued. Meilutyte finished the year with world record times of 29.48 and 1:04.35 in the 50 and 100 breaststroke, gold in the 100 breast, silver in the 50 breast in Barcelona as well as a new short course mark of 1:02.36 in the 100 breast. In Meilutyte's young career she has shown a tendency to have her best swims in semi-finals which is something she will need to work on when she next locks horns with Efimova, but remains a well deserving number 2 in this list. She also possesses one of the best starts in swimming.

1. Katie Ledecky - 2013 Highlight: The runaway winner in this year's list goes to the young American distance phenomenon. Ledecky put on a freestyle display for the ages in Barcelona breaking the 800 and 1500 freestyle world records en route to golds in both events. She also broke the iconic 4 minute barrier to win the 400 freestyle title. Lotte Friis put up a brave fight in both the 800 and 1500 races, but Ledecky couldn't be stopped. The truly terrifying part for her competitors is that you get the impression that she has only just scratched the surface of her potential and is still just 16 years old. They will be lining up against her for the foreseeable future. Ledecky's 1:56.32 opening relay leg in the 4x200 free points to a Sun Yang-esque freestyle range and should she decide to shift her focus to the shorter distance as she gets older, who knows how much lower she can take her best time to.

Final tally for Ledecky in 2013: 2 LC world records, 3 individual world titles, 4 Top 10 ranked times. Total distance freestyle domination.

The Top 50

50. Chase Kalisz
49. Jimmy Feigen
48. Melani Costa
47. Laszlo Cseh
46. Belinda Hocking
45. Pawel Korzeniowski
44. Radoslaw Kawecki
43. Emily Seebohm
42. Connor Dwyer
41. Fabien Gilot
40. Jessica Hardy
39. Aya Terakawa
38. Federica Pellegrini
37. Thiago Pereira
36. Ryan Cochrane
35. Zhao Jing
34. Dana Vollmer
33. Vladimir Morozov
32. Camille Lacourt
31. Nathan Adrian
30. Danila Izotov
29. Yannick Agnel
28. Fu Yuanhui
27. Lauren Boyle
26. Liu Zige
25. James Magnussen
24. Daiya Seto
23. Jeanette Ottesen
22. Alicia Coutts
21. Kosuke Hagino
20. Matt Grevers
19. Daniel Gyurta
18. Lotte Friis
17. Sarah Sjostrom
16. Cameron van der Burgh
15. Christian Sprenger
14. Jeremy Stravius
13. Cesar Cielo
12. Ranomi Kromowidjojo
11. Ryan Lochte
10. Chad le Clos
9. Rikke Moller Pedersen
8. Mireia Belmonte
7. Cate Campbell
6. Sun Yang
5. Missy Franklin
4. Katinka Hosszu
3. Yuliya Efimova
2. Ruta Meilutyte
1. Katie Ledecky


  1. Ledecky was SwimVortex's swimmer of the year.

  2. I really think you put Ryan Lochte too high in the list. He was about a second slower on each of his 2011 times, and most significantly, off the podium on the 200free, where Agnel had a performance that IMO trumps the significance of Lochte's individual achievement this year. Perhaps the rest of his performance doesnt warrant a higher ranking than Lochte's, but I would think that Morozov, or even Manadou, had a better year than Lochte. Afterall, this was the year that Morozov entered the big boy sprint leagues, and dropping significant personal bests (how many times did he go sub46 in 100free SC?). Additionally, although Manadou did not win any individual medals, I would contend that his performances his year has shown form much greater than his 2012.

    His 21.37 in Barcelona semis was "shut down", and hints at the sort of improvements he has made over the last year, while I would argue that his 45.04 is, by some margin, the best swim by a man this entire year.

  3. Others have argued that Lochte deserves to be in the Top 10... that's the beauty of a list like this, it is 100% subjective. I think 11 is fair given he was one of only 8 swimmers with two or more world titles, even if his times were down on 2011.

    Morozov has more of an argument for a spot higher in the rankings, but ultimately the lack of medal in the 100 free cost him around 10 spots.

    Manaudou was right on the edge of making the list. His 45.04 was incredible (as was his 21.37), but the lack of medal in Barcelona just kept him out of contention. There were silver medalists that didn't make the list, so tough to put Manaudou in before them.