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Adlington And Bernard: Queen and King of Europe

Nov 26, 2008  - Craig Lord

Rebecca Adlington (GBR) and Alain Bernard (FRA) have been voted queen and king of the European pool in a vote by LEN federations and writers of the LEN Magazine.

Adlington, double Olympic champion in the pool in Beijing and coached by Bill Furniss in Nottingham, was voted European Woman Swimmer of 2008 and also claimed the European Swimming League Popularity Prize as the most liked swimmer in a vote on the website of the continent's governing body. 

The 19-year-old from Mansfield in Nottinghamshire, England, won the 400m and 800m freestyle, the latter in a world record, at the Water Cube. She is the first British woman to win the League's top award in Olympic year since 1960 (when Anita Lonsbrough of England was the only European woman to win an Olympic title in Rome), and the first British swimmer to emerge with a top prize  n the biggest year of the four-year cycle since 1976 (when David Wilkie of Scotland was the only non-American man to win an Olympic crown in Montreal). 

In a vote by members of the European Swimming League Adlington collected 39 per cent of votes, compared with 30 per cent for Federica Pellegrini, the Italian who holds the world record holder in the 400m but was defeated by the British champion for the Olympic crown before winning the 200m freestyle three days later, and 24 per cent for Britta Steffen, the German sprinter who won the 50m and 100m freestyle titles. 

Bernard, Olympic 100m freestyle champion and coached by Denis Auguin in Antibes, received 51% of votes to win the Male Swimmer of the Year Award, ahead of the 32% of votes for Laszlo Cseh, the Hungarian who in a world without Michael Phelps would have been the superhero of the pool, his three silver medals all won behind Superfish and all in European-record time, and 11% of votes for another man pipped by the Baltimore Bullet, Milorad Cavic (SRB), silver medallist in the 100 'fly by 0.01sec.

For the full vote, profiles of the winners, news and features on European swimming, read the LEN Magazine, the latest edition of which is out now.

Here is a summary of results for the 2008 LEN Awards:


  • Men: Alain Bernard (France)
  • Women: Rebecca Adlington (Great Britain)


  • Men: Dmitry Sautin (Russia)
  • Women: Yulia Pakhalina (Russia)

Synchronized swimming

  • Anastasia Davydova, Anastasia Ermakova (Russia)

Open water swimming

  • Men: Maarten van der Weijden (Netherlands)
  • Women: Larisa Ilchenko (Russia)

Water Polo

  • Men: Peter Biros (Hungary)
  • Women: Danielle de Bruijn (Netherlands)

The detailed results


  • Men: 1. Alain Bernard (France) 51%, 2. Laszlo Cseh (Hungary) 34%, 3. Milorad Cavic (Serbia) 11%. (Others receiving votes: Alexander Dale Oen, Norway; Hugues Duboscq, France; Arkady Vyatchanin, Russia). Alain Bernard in 2008: Olympic Champion (100m free), Olympic silver (4x100m free), Olympic bronze (50m free), European Champion (50m and 100m free)
  • Women: 1. Rebecca Adlington (Great Britain) 39%, 2. Federica Pellegrini (Italy) 30%, 3. Britta Steffen (Germany) 24%. (Others: the Dutch 4x100m freestyle relay). Rebecca Adlington in 2008: Olympic Champion (400m and 800m), WR-holder (800m), World Champion (800m, short course)

Open water swimming

  • Men: 1. Maarten van der Weijden (Netherlands) 86%, 2. Thomas Lurz (Germany) 10%, 3. David Davies (Great Britain) 4%. Maarten van der Weijden in 2008: Olympic Champion (10km), World Champion (25km), World Ch. bronze (5km)
  • Women: 1. Larisa Ilchenko (Russia) 90%, 2. Anne-Keri Payne (Great Britain) 8%, 3. Cassandra Patten (Great Britain) 2%. Larisa Ilchenko in 2008: Olympic Champion (10km), World Champion (5km, 10km), European Champion (10km)

Next chance to see many of Europe's finest swimmers gathered together for battle (no Adlington but Bernard is due to race): the European short-course Championships in Rijeka, Croatia, on December 11-14. Some 500 athletes from 40 countries will take the plunge at the new Kantrida Swimming Pool Complex in the old port city of Rijeka.

The championships coincide with the centenary celebrations of the city's Primorje ’08 Swim Club, prompting former European record holder Tomislav Karlo, now 37 and Director of the Rijeka08 Organising Committee, to declare the European event a "Festival of Swimming" that will include "additional events outside the competition venue.  and the centenary celebration of  will also be a part of it all”.

Karlo added: "Owing to the successes of Sanja Jovanovic and Duje Draganja at the World Short Course Championships in Manchester in the spring of 2008, swimming is booming again in Croatia. And with the Short Course Europeans here in Rijeka we hope for a further impetus." Half the 4,000 tickets available to paying members of the public at the championships have been sold so far.

The third-largest city in Croatia, Rijeka is the principal seaport, overlooking Kvarner Bay, an inlet of the Adriatic Sea. 

Two things that Rijeka is famous for:

  • Tvornica "Torpedo" (the Torpedo factory): The first European prototypes of a self-propelled torpedo were created by Giovanni Luppis, a retired naval engineer from Rijeka. The remains of this factory still exist.
  • Svetište Majke Božje Trsatske (Sanctuary of Madonna Trsatian) (Zvijezda mora, Kraljica Jadrana, zaštitnica putnika - Star of the sea, Queen of Adriatic, protector of the travellers.) Built 135 meters above the sea on the Trsat hill seven centuries ago, it represents the Guardian of Travellers, especially seame. The Gothic sculpture of (Gospa Slunjska) the Madonna of Slunj and works by the Baroque painter C. Tasce can be found there.

And the third thing may well be as the city that helped to bring to a close a year in which almost 100 world records (90 and counting...) have fallen in what has been FINA's centenary year, a year that has witnessed technology driven speed transform the sport.