January 4 - Americans Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin have today been named as World Swimmers of the Year for 2012 by FINA as it honoured the best athletes across its five disciplines.
Last year Phelps (pictured top) become the most decorated Olympian of all time with 22 medals, after he took home six medals – four gold and two silver – from the London 2012 Olympic Games, to finally break the record held by former Soviet Union gymnast Larisa Latynina, who was awarded the last of her 18 medals in 1964.
The 27-year-old Olympic superstar brought to an end to his unparalleled career as he confirmed his retirement after last summer's Games after 12 years in the profession, which also saw him securing six gold and two bronze medals at Athens 2004, followed by his historic eight golds at Beijing 2008.
Claiming the title for the second consecutive year, Franklin, a world record holder and now four-time Olympic champion, made her Games debut at London 2012 to lead the women's field in terms of medals won.
The 17-year-old won a total of five medals, four of which were gold, as she swept the women's backstroke events to win both the 100 and 200 metres, was victorious in the 4x200m freestyle and 4x100m medley, and won a bronze in the 4x100m freestyle.
Her outstanding success this year means she now has 12 medals in international competition to her name - seven gold, three silver, and two bronze - spanning London 2012, the World Championships and the World Short Course Championships.
FINA's pick for top athletes in the open water discipline saw Tunisia's Ous Mellouli and Éva Risztov of Hungary, both Olympic champions in the 10-kilometre swim at London 2012 - Mellouli also won bronze in the 1500m freestyle, named as the discipline's athletes of the year.
The divers of the year titles went to Russian Ilya Zakharov, the Olympic individual 3m champion and silver medallist in 3m springboard synchronised, and China's Wu Minxia, after claiming gold medals in both the individual and synchronised 3m in London.
Natalia Ishchenko of Russia was named synchronised swimmer of the year after securing two gold medals in the duet and team events at the London 2012 Olympics, while water polo players Croatia's Josip Pavić and American Maggie Steffens, both part of 2012 gold medal-winning teams and World League winners, complete the FINA athletes of the year line up.
The FINA awards date back to 2010 and the athletes of the year are selected after collecting votes from the 202 national member federations, the media and aquatic experts.
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org