The land of Navia´s estuary is in love with swimming,” says Juan Ignacio Martínez Fernández-Villamil, otherwise known as Moreno.

The Descenso a Nado Ría de Navia swim started 55 years ago there in the estuary, and I am very honoured to receive the 2012 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year award, together with other award recipients Stephen Redmond of Ireland, WOWSA Man of the Year, Annaleise Carr of Canada, WOWSA Woman of the Year, and SWIM Channel of Brazil, WOWSA Offering of the Year.

It is obvious that the merit of achieving such an award is due to the enthusiastic participation of a lot of people in the voting process. I am no more – and I really feel this way – that the old guy whose persistence for so many years in the Descenso a Nado Ría de Navia‘s organising committee got me to be included among the nominations. The keenness and passion of many friends, persons with a special attachment to the river and the Descenso a Nado Ría de Navia and the people of Navia land did the rest. And the real value of the award should be attributed to all the people that, throughout 55 years of working for the Descenso a Nado Ría de Navia, made of the Navia’s estuary country a landscape – a human and natural scenery – beloved to the swimming world’s people who came across it.

I’d like to remind you of the phrase that, like a definition, we use within the organising committee to quickly explain to someone new to the Descenso about the essence of an event that is still going after 55 years. I believe that this phrase reflects very well – better than any of my own expressions – the reality to what the award is owed.

The deep spirit of the Descenso a Nado Ría de Navia lies within the friendship established between the locals and the swimming people, commonly seduced by an estuary in where to compete and to cherish. “Always the Water, Always the Friends”.

Moreno is, simply, an old guy in this framework. I am personally moved, of course, by the human and natural scenery previously mentioned and by the fond memories of the missing friends. And, now, I am deeply touched by the affection that many people from Navia, Spain, and many other places around the world have showed me along these last weeks. Thank you.

Belonging to a land in love with swimming, I have to express in the current situation, on behalf of Navia’s people and most specially on my behalf, the greatest recognition to all the nominees for the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year award: Alina Warren, Brenton Williams, Dan Projansky, Dutch Ladies First, Frank Flowers, Haley Anderson, James Pittar, Lexie Kelly, Night Train Swimmers, Penny Palfrey, Philippe Coizon, Saint Martin Island Long Distance Channel Swimming, Stephen Redmond, Trent Grimsey and for the rest of the nominees in the other categories (Man of the Year, Woman of the Year, and Offering of the Year). I’ve read on the web all their merits and I feel insignificant compared to them.

There is, for me, a bigger prize than the WOWSA Performance of the Year award. A prize that I share collectively with friends, swimmers, members and volunteers from the organising committee, Navia’s land people. In general with all those that, one way or the other, feels the human and natural landscape of our estuary. A prize that consists simply in enjoy for so long the spirit of the Descenso within a land in love with swimming. And I’d feel honoured of sharing this prize from here onwards with all of you.”

Moreno will receive his award at the 2013 Global Open Water Swimming Conference where the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Class of 2012 will be inducted. For more information on the ceremonies, visit here with the event Facebook page here.

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