Katinka Hosszú won the women's award in 2016 following her memorable year in the pool and must be seen as a strong contender to figure again in the awards in Sanya ©Getty Images

The International Swimming Federation (FINA) will announce its best athletes of 2017 at an event in Chinese city Sanya in December, the governing body has announced.

An event to honour the stars of aquatics will be held at the Mangrove Tree Resort World on Sanya Bay on December 2.

It will form part of the World Aquatics Gala, also known as Soirée des Etoiles.

In order to be selected, swimmers need to have amassed points at various FINA events, with results at the World Championships taken into account.

FINA President Julio Maglione said the athletes deserved "the highest recognition" and it was an honour to partner with Chinese company Alisport to present the event.

"We are looking forward to celebrating the brilliant results our best athletes have obtained in their discipline of choice," the Uruguayan said. 

"They deserve the highest recognition and this special evening will pay tribute to their success. 

"It is a real honour to partner with Alisport for this prestigious Soirée des Etoiles and Sanya will be the perfect host."

Awards for best male and best female will be handed out across the FINA disciplines of swimming, diving, artistic swimming, open water, water polo and high diving.

Last year, Michael Phelps of the United States and Hungarian Katinka Hosszú were both named as the swimming winners after their outstanding results at the Rio 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

Phelps won six medals, including five gold, while Hosszu won three gold medals in the 100 metre backstroke, 200m individual medley, where she set a new Olympic record in the process, and the 400m individual medley in which she broke the world record.

She also won silver in the 200m backstroke and dominated last year's FINA World Cup, claiming a total of 1,197 points, while her closest rival, Jamaican Alia Atkinson, finished back on 480 in second.

The best Olympic swimming performances went to Great Britain's Adam Peaty for his world record-breaking 100m breaststroke final win, and American Katie Ledecky who won four gold medals in Brazil.

Britain's Adam Peaty must be seen as a strong contender in the male awards after his strong performance at the World Championships in Budapest ©Getty Images
Britain's Adam Peaty must be seen as a strong contender in the male awards after his strong performance at the World Championships in Budapest ©Getty Images

In water polo, the Olympic and World League champions, respectively Serbia for the men and the US in the women's field, were winners.

Dutch Olympic gold medallists Ferry Weertman and Sharon Rouwendaal won the men's and women's awards in the open water swimming category respectively, while synchronised swimmers Svetlana Romashina and Natalia Ishchenko of Russia, who won the duet and team events in Rio, took the artistic prize.

World Cup winners Gary Hunt of Great Britain and Canadian Lysanne Richard were considered the best high divers of the year.

At the end of the Gala Phelps received the "Aquatic Legend, the Greatest of All Time" special award from FINA.

Phelps, who retired following the 2016 Games, won 28 medals at Olympic level, an unprecedented feat among all sports.

Stars of this year's FINA World Championships in Budapest in July, who may be in the running for awards in Sanya, include Peaty as well as Hosszú.

Male contenders also include other gold medallists such as Americans Caeleb Dressel and Chase Kalisz and China's Sun Yang.

In the women's events, Hosszú will face competition from Ledecky and her fellow American Lilly King, as well as Sweden's Sarah Sjöström and others.

The partnership with Alisports means that the company became the exclusive e-commerce, ticketing and sports tourism partner for the Chinese territory.

The first Soirée des Etoiles was held in Doha, Qatar, in 2014.

In 2015 it was held in Budapest and 2016's event was held in Windsor, Canada.