At the start of 2016 most people were writing the Swans off after losing more than 1000 games of experience and having one of the youngest lists in the competition.
Fast forward 12 months and you can reflect on a very positive year for the red and white with plenty of great milestones, moments and celebrations along the way.
We reflect on the highs and lows of 2016 in our Year in Review series in the lead up to New Year.
Buddy is back
Having missed the 2015 finals series to deal with ongoing mental illness, all eyes were on Lance Franklin to start 2016. Hopes were high that the superstar forward would return to his best and he didn't disappoint. In a strong start to the season it was the round nine arm-wrestle against Hawthorn at the MCG that stands out, with Franklin standing up in the fourth quarter to seal the match. First, he received the ball just in front of the centre circle and with no teammates ahead, he unloaded an incredible 75m goal. Minutes later he wheeled onto his left boot outside 50m and again converted to put the Swans 21 points up. Franklin finished the season with 81 goals, his highest tally for a season since joining the Swans.
Jack’s memorable milestone
In his 200th game, and after enduring a taxing week in which a family disagreement became public, Kieren Jack led his side to a memorable victory over Geelong at Simmons Stadium. Jack had 24 disposals, laid 10 tackles and kicked three goals to lead the Swans to one of their best wins of the season. Jack's girlfriend Charlotte Goodlet, had an emotional embrace with her partner in the Swans' rooms after the game, while Brandon Jack was also on hand to support his older brother. The emotion of the week was clearly evident after Jack booted the first goal of the game as his teammates rallied around him. "I thought he was really good tonight. He's a pretty mentally strong person and he applied himself really well tonight. He knew the players were supporting him," coach John Longmire said after the match.
Mills named Rising Star
Young Swans Callum Mills joined illustrious company becoming the third Sydney Swans player to win the AFL Rising Star award in September. Mills joined Dan Hannebery (2010) and Adam Goodes (1999) as previous winners of the award that acknowledges the best first year player in the competition. The Swans have now had the most winners of the award since its inception in 1993. Mills also created history by becoming the first New South Wales born player to win the Ron Evans Medal finishing with 49 votes, leaving him with the full five votes from all but one of the members of the voting panel. The courage of Mills shone through during his first season at AFL level where he was forced to play across half back for the first time in his career as he averaged 18.5 disposals from 22 games.
The rise of Aliir Aliir
As Sydney's season gained momentum in 2016, so did the burgeoning career of defender Aliir Aliir, whose story made it all the way to world political stage. The 22-year-old grew up in a refugee camp in Kenya, after his family fled the bloody civil war in Sudan, and he moved to Australia with his family when he was seven years old. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said his story was a shining example of the success of Australia's migrant policy. "Tall, fast and agile, Aliir was a natural for Australian Rules football and once he took up the game hasn't looked back," Turnbull said at a UN General Assembly meeting in September. Aliir would injure himself in the Preliminary Final win over Geelong which would force him out of the Grand Final side. The future of the young defender was set in stone throughout the course of the 2016 season as he proved he belonged at the top level.