Sarah Sjöström and Noè Ponti voted swimmers of the year in the 2023 European Aquatics Awards

Credit to: World Aquatics

Sarah Sjöström was named top female for the fifth time and Noè Ponti was voted Europe’s best male swimmer in the 2023 European Aquatics Awards.

The Awards were first held in 2008, based on the votes of national federations with the public voting for the first time last year when Ruta Meilutyte snapped Sjöström’s streak of four straight wins.

In the 2023 Awards, Sjöström was heavily favoured by the federations with Meilutyte getting the public backing of more than 12,000 votes after the Lithuanian won the 50/100m breaststroke double at the World Championships in Fukuoka while also setting a world record in the shorter race.

The Swede ultimately came out on top by more than 5% to lead home Meilutyte and Benedetta Pilato, who collected medals in Fukuoka and Otopeni 2023.

Ponti won 50% of the federation votes for the men’s award with Daniel Wiffen heading the public support.

The Irishman demolished the 800 free short-course world record en-route to three European short-course titles in December following up two fourth places and a European 800 free record at the World Championships.

The Swiss ultimately enjoyed a clear victory ahead of Leon Marchand – who downed Michael Phelps’ 400IM world record among three World titles – and Wiffen.

Credit to: World Aquatics

Sjöström made her first appearance atop the international podium when she won the 100m butterfly aged 14 at the 2008 European Championships in Eindhoven, Netherlands.

A year later, the Swede claimed her first global title when she powered to 100m butterfly gold at the 2009 World Championships in Rome, setting a world record in the process.

Since then, she has won four Olympic medals as well as World and European titles in the long and short-course pools.

At the 2023 World Championships in Fukuoka, Sjöström obliterated the field to claim her fifth consecutive gold in the 50m butterfly with her time of 24.77 then the sixth-fastest in history.

Victory also moved her level with Phelps for the most individual medals won in World Championships competition with 20 solo honours.

Sjöström returned to the pool around 20 minutes later for the semi-finals of the 50m freestyle.

There she lowered her own world record to 23.61secs, six years to the day after setting the previous standard of 23.67 at the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

The following day, Sjöström beat the field by almost half a second en-route to her third World 50 free title in 23.62, the second-fastest time in history.

It was the 21st individual title of her career, moving her clear of Phelps to become the most decorated athlete in solo events in World Championship history.

Credit to: European Aquatics

Ponti became the first Swiss swimmer to win the accolade in any aquatics discipline thanks to his historic butterfly treble at the European Short-Course Championships in Otopeni.

The Olympic bronze medallist opened his programme with gold in the 100m butterfly in a European record of 48.47, taking 0.01secs from Evgeny Korotyshkin’s standard that had stood since November 2009.

Ponti followed that up with the 200m title before becoming the first man to complete the treble with victory in the 50m where his time of 21.79 was just 0.04secs outside the world record and sent him third in the all-time rankings.

The 22-year-old then concluded his competition with silver in the 100m individual medley.