FINA Communications Department

Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, from USA, and surely two of the greatest stars in the swimming history, also appear in a relevant position in the list of the “FINA Best Athletes of the Year”. Over the seven winners so far, Lochte appears on three occasions – 2010, 2011 and 2013 – while the most successful all-time Olympian, Phelps, was the best in 2012 and 2016. 

Ryan Lochte has an impressive roll of honour – over his remarkable career, he won 12 Olympic medals, plus 27 at the FINA World Championships, and an outstanding 38 at the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m), the best in the history of the competition. In 2010, at the Dubai edition of this event, the US great climbed on the podium on seven occasions (six of them in the highest march). This success was decisive for that year’s FINA accolade. In 2011, at the Shanghai World Championships, Lochte was once more the athlete to watch, with six medals, including five titles. He was naturally the best of that year. Finally, in 2013 in Barcelona, the US star collected four more medals, including his three wins in the 200m back, 200m IM and 4x200m free relay.

Ryan Lochte (USA) - Photo by deepbluemedia

Phelps will remain in history as the best Olympian in history, after ending his career in Rio 2016 with a total of 28 medals, an unparalleled success. After his two last Games’ appearances, in London 2012 and Rio 2016, the “kid of Baltimore” was honoured with the “FINA Best Athlete of the Year” accolade. In the British capital, Phelps collected six medals (and four golds), while in Brazil the US great earned an additional six awards (included five titles in the 200m fly, 200m IM and the three relays). Additionally, Michael Phelps is the best in the history of the FINA World Championships, with a total of 33 podium presences.

In 2014, coinciding with his four titles at the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in Doha (QAT), plus the overall title at the FINA Swimming World Cup, South Africa’s Chad Le Clos received the “Best Athlete of the Year” award. In the following year, the prize went to Mitch Larkin, from Australia, one of the revelations of the 2015 FINA Worlds in Kazan, after earning gold in the 100m and 200m back and the silver in the 4x100m medley relay.

Hosszu, a Magyar icon
Among women, the last three editions were won by Hungary’s great Katinka Hosszu. The Magyar star, winner of the FINA Swimming World Cup between 2012 and 2016, is also a prolific medal recipient at the FINA World Championships (13, including seven gold) and at the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m), where she was 22 times on the podium. 

In 2014, Hosszu got eight medals (four gold) at the Doha (QAT) FINA short course Worlds, while she was also in evidence at the Kazan 2015 Worlds (triumphs in the 200m and 400m IM, and bronze in the 200m back). After a long wait for an Olympic achievement, the Hungarian ace was able to finally shine at the Rio Games, getting three gold (100m back, 200m and 400m IM) and one silver medal (200m back).

Katinka Hosszu (HUN) - Photo by deepbluemedia

Before Hosszu’s era, two US stars appear on the list of the “Best Athletes of the Year”: Katie Ledecky in 2013 – four titles in Barcelona (400m, 800m and 1500m free, and the 4x200m free relay), and Missy Franklin in 2011 and 2012. 

At the Shanghai FINA World Championships, the US swimmer went home with five medals (three gold, one silver and one bronze), while at the London Olympics Franklin earned four gold and one bronze medal.

Earlier, in 2010, the prize went to Therese Alshammar (SWE). Winner of the FINA Swimming World Cup that year, the Swedish star, retired after the 2016 Olympics (she was the first female swimmer in history to take part in six editions of the Games), collected three Olympic medals, eight at the World Championships and 17 at the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) over a long and successful career.

List of past winners*


2010 – Ryan Lochte (USA)
2011 – Ryan Lochte (USA)
2012 – Michael Phelps (USA)
2013 – Ryan Lochte (USA)
2014 – Chad Le Clos (RSA)
2015 – Mitchell Larkin (AUS)
2016 – Michael Phelps (USA)


2010 – Therese Alshammar (SWE)
2011 – Missy Franklin (USA)
2012 – Missy Franklin (USA)
2013 – Katie Ledecky (USA)
2014 – Katinka Hosszu (HUN)
2015 – Katinka Hosszu (HUN)
2016 – Katinka Hosszu (HUN)

*The FINA World Aquatics Gala “Soirée des Etoiles” has been successively organised in Doha (QAT, 2014), Budapest (HUN, 2015), and Windsor (CAN, 2016).