Adlington will be looking to win more gold at London 2012
Double Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington and France's Alain Bernard have been voted the 2008 European swimmers of the year.
Adlington won gold in the 400m and 800m freestyle and was also the 2008 world champion in the 800m short-course race.
"Before Beijing, I never thought I would win awards. It is really nice to be recognised for all the hard work I have put in," the 19-year-old said.
Bernard won 100m freestyle Olympic gold, as well as a silver and bronze.
Adlington added: "I feel really honoured to have won this award. I am enjoying all of the opportunities that have opened up because of my success."
At the Beijing Olympics, Adlington became the first British woman to win in the pool since Anita Lonsborough triumphed in 1960.
The Mansfield-born swimmer is one of the favourites to pick up the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year award and was recently named the sportswoman of the year at the Sports Journalists' Association British sports awards.
Representatives of Europe's national swimming federations and media members voted for the awards, which were announced on Tuesday in LEN Magazine, which is published in Budapest.
Russians Dmitry Sautin and Yulia Pakhalina were voted the best European divers of 2008, while Hungary's Peter Biros and Danielle de Bruijn of the Netherlands were named the best water polo players.
Russian pair Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Ermakova were best in synchronized swimming, and the winners of the open water swimming award went to Maarten van der Weijden of the Netherlands and Larisa Ilchenko of Russia.