Poliana Okimoto was voted as the 2009 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year out of 21,275 votes cast by fans around the globe.

Poliana Okimoto (Brazil)

Poliana OkimotoPoliana graciously said, "Thanks very much. I'm very happy for this!"

"I'm very happy to win this voting. This year was very special for me. I enjoyed many new experiences that made me grow and become a better person and a better swimmer. I hope to be here again in the voting in 2010, with more goods results."

The World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year Award is meant to honor the woman 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 Poliana is one of the world's best endurance athletes with a strong competitive edge, a constant hunger to improve and a heart of a champion.

The physical presence of the slender and polite Poliana belies her intensity and focus on becoming the best in the world. Poliana travels the world seeking to race the best in all kinds of open water races – from 1-mile invitational swims in Great Britain to professional World Cup races in South America. Poliana, who placed seventh in the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim in Beijing, is only getting faster and better with age. She won the FINA 10KM Marathon Swimming World Cup title this year based on her victories at the 10K New York City (USA) World Cup, the Copenhagen (Denmark) World Cup, the Lake Annecy (France) World Cup, the Setubal (Portugal) World Cup and the Chun An (China) World Cup and second-place finishes at the Varna (Bulgaria) World Cup and the Santos (Brazil) World Cup races. For her success on the FINA World Cup circuit and her sense of adventure, tenacity and perseverance in exploiting her full potential as a marathon swimmer, Poliana is undoubtedly worthy to be the 2009 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

We salute all the nominees who joined Poliana in the waterways around the world in 2009:

  1. Marcia Cleveland (USA), Administrator, Promoter and Coach
  2. Lisa Cummins (Ireland), Patience and Persistence Pay Off
  3. Natalie du Toit (South Africa), Inspirational Athlete and Spokeswoman
  4. Melissa Gorman (Australia), World Champion
  5. Angela Maurer (Germany), Professional Swimmer and Mother
  6. Mighty Mermaids (USA), Masters Team Extraordinaire
  7. Sally Minty-Gravett (Jersey), Teacher, Motivator and Coach
  8. Penny Palfrey (Australia), Marathon Swimming Adventurer
  9. Keri-Anne Payne (Great Britain), World-class Racer