Edith van Diji
Edith van DijiThe 2008 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year is Edith van Dijk of the Netherlands.

The purpose of the online global vote was to recognize all the nominees who, in turn, represent all that is good with open water swimmers.

The nominees from 11 countries (America, Australia, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa and the U.K.) ranged from world-class teenage swimmers to administrators who have guided the sport for decades.

Edith closely edged out Marcia Cleveland of Chicago.

Like a classic marathon race, the two women were always among the leaders from the start of the three-month online poll. Edith and Marcia maintained a great pace throughout the polling period and were neck-and-neck week in and week out. Towards the end, voters enabled Edith to cap off the Olympic year with a closing surge, just as she has done so many times throughout her athletic career at major international competitions.

Edith has done it all: a mother (shown with her daughter and a competitor above), an Olympian, a six-time world champion, a top pro marathon swimmer, a competitive pool swimmer and an English Channel swimmer with a doctorate in economics and a movie credit to boot.

After she announced her retirement at the 2008 European Open Water Swimming Championships, the sport looks fondly back upon this woman of stature and remarkable abilities.

The global open water swimming community salutes you and your fellow nominees.