Among an extraordinarily impressive field of outstanding open water swimming heroes, Bulgaria's Petar Stoychev was voted as the 2009 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year out of 18,024 votes cast by fans around the globe. Petar graciously said, "Thank you very much for the wonderful news. I am very happy with this award."

Petar Stoychev (Bulgaria)

Petar Stoychev"During the year I was able to win 5 out of 8 FINA Grand Prix marathons (57K Santa Fe, 15K Sumidero, 30K Ohrid, 32K Roberval and 34K Magog) to rank first in the FINA rankings for a record ninth consecutive year. I also finished fourth in the FINA 10K World Cup rankings and was the first Bulgarian to be inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. My achievements secured my place among the Ten Best Bulgarian Athletes of the Year (I was ranked sixth). Finally, I was elected in the FINA Athletes Commission, where I hope to be able to contribute for the development of marathon swimming. Thank you again for the great honor."

The World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year Award is meant to honor the man who (1) best embodies the spirit of open water swimming, (2) possesses the sense of adventure, tenacity and perseverance that open water swimmers are known for, and (3) has most positively influenced the world of open water swimming in 2009.

Although the Award is not necessarily meant for the best athlete, it was clear that Petar is one of history's best endurance athletes with a strong competitive edge, a constant hunger to improve and a heart of a champion.

Petar, Bulgaria’s Olympic flag bearer at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, won his ninth consecutive FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix, an unprecedented string of professional marathon swimming dominance that is longer than the streaks held by the legendary pro stars like John Kinsella, Paul Asmuth and Shelley Taylor-Smith.

His reign over the longest and toughest marathon swimming circuit over the past nine years is incredible, especially when one considers how close the finishes are at contemporary marathon races. As the reigning English Channel record-holder, Petar also competed at several FINA 10KM Marathon Swimming World Cup races and was inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. The only person to swim the English Channel under 7 hours, Petar won the 30K FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix in Ohrid Lake(Macedonia), the 32K Traversée Internationale du lac St-Jean (Canada), the 34K Traversée Internationale du Lac Memphrémagog (Canada), the 15K FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix in Sumidero Canyon (Mexico) and the 57K Maraton Acuatica Rio Coronda (Argentina) Grand Prix and was fourth in the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix in Viedma (Argentina). For his continued demonstration of superior marathon swimming abilities in all types of competitions and conditions, Petar is a worthy recipient of the 2009 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

We salute all the 2009 nominees who have enjoyed remarkable careers in the sport as athletes, coaches, promoters, race directors and administrators:

  1. Flavio Bomio (Switzerland), European & Global AdministratorColin Hill (Great Britain), Visionary Innovator and Successful PromoterThomas Lurz (Germany), World Champion Professional SwimmerKevin Murphy (Great Britain), Hall of Famer King of the ChannelBob Placak (USA), Generous Visionary and PromoterScott Rice (New Zealand), Innovator and Branding ExpertRostislav Vitek (Czech Republic), Fast Channel SwimmerRick Walker (USA), Quick-thinking FINA Referee and Long-time CoachDouglas Woodring (Hong Kong), Race Innovator and Ocean Protector