Davies and Dearing lead unique British Swimming Award winners list

11 Dec 2020

A host of deserving and inspiring athletes and staff have been recognised at the end of a unique year with the announcement of the British Swimming Awards winners for 2020.

In light of the global pandemic and the subsequent challenges that has provided, a series of new, bespoke awards have been introduced to mark activities that transcended sporting achievement. In true 2020 style, the annual awards ceremony was swapped for an online vote across British Swimming's website and social media channels, with thousands of votes cast across the eight awards.

First up, Rhys Davies has been named the inaugural ‘In aid of our NHS heroes’ winner. Having reached the Men's S14 100m Backstroke final at the World Para-Swimming Championships in 2019, Rhys spent parts of this year helping to provide essential supplies for NHS staff and other front-line workers.

As the local boat building business he works for diversified their work to help the cause, Pembrokeshire County swimmer Davies ultimately produced 10,000 visors to support local hospitals and care homes over lockdown.

Another athlete to have made a telling positive social impact in 2020 is marathon swimmer Alice Dearing, who has won the Championing Diversity award.

Alice - who is preparing for May's Olympic qualifier in Fukuoka, Japan - embodied the values of aquatic disciplines being "sport for all", by co-founding the Black Swimming Association earlier this year. The BSA is an organisation focused on increasing the participation of people from BAME communities across aquatic sports, in partnership with Swim England.

Dearing has spoken passionately about the importance of inclusivity and education through her BSA work, as well as being involved with the Women's Sport Trust's 'Unlocked' campaign.

Max Litchfield, meanwhile, takes home the Community Award after playing his own part in a push for important change.

The Olympic finalist has been on a mission to encourage others to make at least 'one simple change', in fact, offering tips on his social media on how people can make switches to everyday habits to help the environment and reduce plastic pollution, as well as garnering support from his Loughborough National Centre teammates to join him on clean-ups of the local area.

This year's sporting action may have been largely undermined by coronavirus - but there have still been some eye-opening moments from our athletes in the pool and off the boards.

Fresh from being named BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year on Thursday, Crystal Palace diver Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix has won our Dive of the Year prize following a breakthrough 12 months.

The 16-year-old pipped James Heatly and Noah Williams thanks to a brilliant Back 2 1/2 Somersaults 1 1/2 Twists (5253B) that closed out her maiden Women's 10m Platform victory at January's British Championships in Plymouth, a dive delivered under pressure with gold in sight.

Duncan Scott knows exactly how to perform when the most sought-after medal is up for grabs - and one such display in the recent International Swimming League saw him win the Swim of the Year category.

The Steve Tigg-coached athlete smashed his own British short-course record in the Men's 200m Freestyle on day two of the ISL final, pacing his swim, from an outside lane, to perfection to finish strongly and clock a 1:40.24. That was nearly half-a-second faster than his and the nation's previous best, and quicker than the previous Commonwealth record as well to top it off.

With no supporters allowed in to watch the ISL clashes at the Duna Arena, we were all glued to our screens to take in the action - and that has become a familiar experience in 2020, as online engagement has become the best way for people to stay in touch, catch up and even continue their all-important training.

That was why the Virtual Event of the Year award was up for grabs, with ‘Diving Live @ Five’ winning the vote.

When lockdown began in March, British Diving Pathways and Swim England Talent joined up to deliver the ‘live @ five’ sessions. These provided a daily Monday-Friday technical and physical programme for the junior, youth and talent squads, which varied from core conditioning and circuit training to yoga sessions during a time when athletes could not access pools.

The impact has certainly been seen by those athletes back in training, while those at the younger end of the pathway are still involved in the online classes.

Lockdown and unusual training schedules have meant more time for other activities for many of our athletes, coaches and support staff.

Some of those hours have been spent in the kitchen, with Fuel My Friday continuing as a popular feature to give fans alternative options for nutrition, delivered by those who benefit most from them.

Alys Thomas' oat and fruit pancakes picked up the most votes to win the Fuel My Friday of the Year, perhaps because, as Alys said herself, they are delicious, versatile and can be enjoyed as a breakfast or a timely snack option.

Rounding out this year's unique British Swimming awards, James Guy will surely get the choice of the track that will play us out of this virtual awards ceremony, after winning the Track Tuesday of the Year.

The four-time world champion was up against Adam Peaty in the very first instalment of this musical mash-up, triumphing with his selection of Stormzy's 'Own It', featuring Ed Sheeran and Burna Boy. It was clearly a popular selection, given the votes he received for this award, which was shortlisted for the final and ultimately triumphed.

The British Swimming Awards 2020 were certainly not what many will have expected them to be back at the start of the year, but they go to show how personnel from across the organisation and the wider aquatics world have adapted and excelled in unique circumstances, setting themselves up for what now looks set to be a huge year in 2021.



In aid of our NHS Heroes - Rhys Davies

Championing Diversity - Alice Dearing

Dive of the year - Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix

Swim of the year - Duncan Scott

Fuel my Friday of the year - Alys Thomas

Community award - Max Litchfield

Virtual Event of the year - Diving Live @ Five

Track Tuesday of the year - James Guy