Adam Peaty and Katinka Hosszu have been voted the best swimmers in Europe: the British Lion claimed his third LEN Award while this is the 5th triumph for the Hungarian medley queen. Russian diver Aleksandar Bondar and Ekaterina Beliaeva earned their first-‐ever recognition respectively just like compatriot Aleksandr Maltsev among the male artistic swimmers. Italy, Spain and Hungary can be proud of two winners apiece.
This was the 12th time when Europe’s national federations and LEN’s officials
– members of the Bureau and the various committees – voted the continent’s bests in five disciplines.
Two household names top the lists in swimming. Among the men, Adam Peaty was a clear winner, the three-‐time world champion – also broke the 50m breast WR in Gwangju – got almost 50 per cent of the votes and took back his throne after 2016 and 2017.
Katinka Hosszu indeed got 50% among the women – the voters appreciated her outstanding performance at the World Championships where she became the first female swimmer to win a fifth title in the same event (400m IM) and she achieved the medley-‐double for the fourth time in a row. Her four golds at the year-‐ending European Short-‐Course Swimming Championships, held shortly before the voting process started, might also have an affect on the outcome which granted Hosszu her fifth award (she clinched four in a row between 2013-‐16).
For the first time Russian divers got both LEN Awards. Aleksandar Bondar and Ekaterina Beliaeva are first-‐time awardees – Bondar halted the British divers’ four-‐year winning streak, though only a couple of votes separated him from 2016 and 2018 winner Jack Laugher who had also claimed a world synchro silver and an individual bronze like Bondar. Beliaeva was one of the two European female medallists in Gwangju and also delivered synchro medals, including a gold, at the European Championships in Kiev.
Russia’s third win came in artistic swimming – this is not surprising, but it was indeed that the women’s crown went to Spain’s Ona Carbonell. Russia’s two world champions Svetlana Romashina and Svetlana Kolesnichenko got more votes combined and in fact they were tied – but at the end the Spaniard finished atop for the second time after five years. Among the men, Aleksandr Maltsev finally earned the LEN Award after having settled for the second place in the previous two years.
Hungary’s Kristof Rasovszky retained his award in open water swimming, though only by a fingernail. His outstanding performance at the 2018 Europeans ensured him a clean victory a year ago, now a small margin – a tiny 1,7% – put him to the first place ahead of his great German rival Florian Wellbrock (Rasovszky won the 5km, Wellbrock came first in the 10km at the Worlds).
Italy’s Rachele Bruni is a newcomer among the awarded ones, and it was a stylish opening as she received the highest percentage of the votes (73.9%) this year among all champions.
A second win for Italy came among the men’s water polo players: Francesco di Fulvio was arguably the best player of the world champion team last summer so his win here was a commanding one. Spain’s women enjoyed another great season, the national team came runner-‐up at the Worlds and Laura Ester, besides receiving the prize for the best goalkeeper in Gwangju, also played a pivotal role in Sabadell’s Euro League victory. This secured the second award for the goalie after 2017 – and a second award altogether for Spain in this election.