Yeah, I know, it’s been awhile. I haven’t put up a blog here in almost five months. I’ve been busy getting settled into my first year here at Duke, and on the rare occasion there’s been much happening in swimming, I’ve been too busy to blog about it, such as during Short Course Worlds. But as 2013 has gotten into full swing, and swimming starts to become relevant as the summer grows nearer, I wanted to take one look back at 2012 before diving into some new blogs for the new year.
First off, let’s take a look at the infamous Speed Endurance top 50 list, where Tom Willdridge unveils his picks for the best swimmers in the world over the year. I, obviously, disagree with his list, as well as the top-ten lists proposed by other analysts, so I thought I’d share my top twenty swimmers from 2012.
20. Mireia Belmonte, Spain
Didn’t win Olympic gold, but she finally broke through on the biggest stage with two London silver medals.
19. Jiao Liuyang, China
Can’t deny that she’s been the best in the 200 fly for two years.
18. Tyler Clary, USA
You knew he’d break through sooner or later. The ultimate underdog becomes 200 back Olympic gold medalist.
17. Matt Grevers, USA
He didn’t swim in the World Championships in 2011 but didn’t miss a beat. Surprising to see him dominate the 100 back after what Camille Lacourt had done over the previous two years.
16. Katie Ledecky, USA
Most stunning part of the most stunning swim of the Olympics in her 800 free – her 400 split was a best time.
15. Camille Muffat, France
Every month, all year, another really fast freestyle swim from Muffat, anywhere from 200 to 800. Finally put it together when it counted, and she won the 400 free in London.
14. Allison Schmitt, USA
Less consistency but more fireworks from Schmitt. 200 free at the Olympics was one of the top swims of the Games. Also a clutch presence on the end of all three relays.
13. Akihiro Yamaguchi, Japan
The only non-Olympian on the list but a world record-breaker. Look for this guy in breaststroke events for a long time.
12. Daniel Gyurta, Hungary
Lost his world record in the 200 breast to Yamaguchi but kept the Olympic gold. He wins the tiebreak with his win over Yamaguchi at Short Course Worlds.
11. Cameron van der Burgh, South Africa
Say what you want about the dolphin kicks, but this guy beat a tough world record to win the gold medal. Fitting to see him win after the loss of his friend Alexander Dale Oen.
10. Dana Vollmer, USA
Finally broke the 100 fly world record and utterly dominated anyone in that event all year. Also put in a big leg that put the Americans over the top in the 800 free relay.
9. Chad le Clos, South Africa
Upset the greatest swimmer of all time in his specialty. That’s hard to do. Now, in a post-Phelps world, he’s the undisputed best flyer out there.
8. Rebecca Soni, USA
After four years of teasing us – including in the semi-finals with her 2:20.00 – Soni finally got down to 2:19 in the 200 breast. How impressive that swim was makes her loss in the 100 breast more shocking.
7. Yannick Agnel, France
Once again, extremely consistent, and stunning in the 200 free and on the 400 free relay in London, but he couldn’t close the deal, finishing sixth in the 100 free. So, no, not the best swimmer in the world.
6. Ranomi Kromowidjojo, Netherlands
Utterly dominant in the sprints this year. No one came close to her in the 50 or 100. Also extremely clutch on the 400 free relay, despite a loss.
5. Ryan Lochte, USA
Nice medal haul in London, but not up to his usual standard or even close to his best times. Still the best short course swimmer out there, bagging a load in Istanbul.
4. Yi Shiwen, China
Her 400 IM scorcher brought the d-word into conversation, but anyone who watched her 200 IMs prior knew she would be dangerous.
3. Sun Yang, China
Dominant in the 400 and 1500, and his mile finished off the meet with some fireworks. Could easily make a case for number one here.
2. Michael Phelps, USA
I almost did it. I almost put him at number one. The greatest of all time, and after his loss in the 200 fly, he resumed his status, even if for just four more short days, as the most dominant in the world. Special athlete that will be missed.
1. Missy Franklin, USA
Special performances all around in London – the 200 free-100 back double, which culminated in gold; the world record obliteration in the 200 back; setting the tone for all three American relays. Sure, her 200 free wasn’t great. Still, the best swimmer in the world.
Insert picture of Missy Franklin here, preferably one better than any I got at Olympic Trials.