2020 WOWSA Awards Announced
Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.
The annual WOWSA Awards, sponsored by the World Open Water Swimming Association, serve as an annual public recognition of the best heroes and heroines in the world’s open water swimming community. There are four categories of the WOWSA Awards:
“The mission of the World Open Water Swimming Association is to educate, enthuse and entertain those who venture beyond the shoreline,” says Steven Munatones. “This week, we announced 13 nominees from 11 countries for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year, 12 nominees from 11 countries for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year, 12 nominees from 9 countries for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year, and 22 nominees from 11 countries for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year category. In a year unexpectedly impacted by government closures, mandates, stay-at-home orders, lockdowns and quarantines, the number of solo crossings, relays and competitive races fell dramatically. Selecting these nominees from the innumerable heroes and heroines in the sport is a nearly impossible task. Each of these nominees is a very special individual and are representative of the best of the sport. 2020 was certainly a year like no other.“
2020 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year nominees:
2020 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year nominees:
2020 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year nominees:
Detailed descriptions of the nominees for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year nominees are listed below in alphabetical order:
André Wiersig has followed up his Oceans Seven achievement with all kinds of positive dryland activities. After encountering dolphins, whales, sea lions and jellyfish in his channel swims, Wiersig became an ambassador for the German Ocean Foundation. His mission is to teach life lessons to others, including how to live an adventurous, eco-friendly life. After his Oceans Seven success, he co-created the beautiful hardcover book with incredible photography (called Nachts Allein Im Ozean, Mein Weg durch die Ocean’s Seven or Alone in the Ocean at Night, My Way through the Ocean’s Seven) together with Erik Eggers and Dennis Daletzki. He also co-produced the audio CD Ein Mann des Meeres: André Wiersig erzählt sein Schwimmen durch die Ocean’s Seven (or A Man of the Sea: André Wiersig Tells of his Swimming through the Ocean’s Seven) with Erik Eggers and Klaus Sander. For helping to motivate and inspire others as a German icon of extreme stamina, for serving as an ocean advocate, and for leveraging his Oceans Seven success via a book, public speeches, television appearances, and a CD, André Wiersig of Germany is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
American marathon swimmer Scott Zornig predicted that Evan Morrison would be the most important person in the history of marathon and channel swimming. His prediction has come to fruition. Morrison’s influence and, in fact, dominance over the global open water swimming community is not due to his track record as a swimmer, but primarily as one of the co-founders of the Marathon Swimmers Federation. Over the last 8 years, he has demanded transparency and carefully peer-reviewed documentation in the sport. This year, as one example of his underlying focus on accuracy, he redefined the distance of the most iconic waterway in the open water swimming world: the English Channel. For redefining the English Channel distance as determined by the Channel Swimming Association (21 miles) and the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation (33.52 km) to 32.3 km, for maintaining and constantly fine-tuning the LongSwims Database, and for being the globally acknowledged authoritative voice in the marathon swimming community, Evan Morrison of the USA is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
As reigning Olympic pool swimming champions, only Grant Hackett and Oussama Mellouli have attempted to add marathon swimming to their Olympic goals. But 2016 Rio Olympic gold medalist Gregorio Paltrinieri is proving himself capable of exceeding their goals and setting himself up to achieve the exceedingly difficult Mellouli Double – winning Olympic medals in both pool swimming and marathon swims in one Olympic Games. But with great implications for the future for swimmers of all levels, Paltrinieri is getting faster in both the pool and in the open water at the same time, a feat previously thought impossible by pool coaches. For breaking the 1500m freestyle European and Italian national records, clocking 14:33:10 at the 2020 Sette Colli Trophy in Italy in the second fastest 1500m in history in a year of training cut short by the pandemic, for qualifying and simultaneously training and preparing for the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim, 800m and 1500m freestyle pool events at the Tokyo Olympics, and for being open, realistic, and positive about his chances and dreams for achieving the Mellouli Double in Tokyo, Gregorio Paltrinieri of Italy is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
Henri Kaarma started ice swimming out of curiosity. The credit analyst in the banking industry quickly took well to The Ice and has remained one of the icons of the global ice swimming community for over 6 years. Nicknamed The Ice Machine, he competes all over the world freely sharing his experiences and know-how with others, training with friends and teammates, while explaining his passion with the media, swimmers in his native Estonia, and people who just stare at his accomplishments in utter astonishment. The humble Ice Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Swimmer was inducted in its inaugural class with world records and many titles to his credit. For initiating and constantly growing the sport of winter swimming in Estonia including the Pirita Open winter swimming festival, for organizing the Estonian Winter Swimming Championships including a 505-person record-setting mass relay, and for gladly serving as a global ambassador of ice swimming and being a living laboratory of what is physiologically possible, Henri Kaarma of Estonia is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
For 44 years, Jaime Lomelin Gavaldon has loomed large over the Mexican open water swimming community. He has won all major Mexican open water races between 1986 and 2020; some of them many times over. The 57-year-old’s latest victory in the shortened 2020 season cluded the 32 km Los Cabos Open Water Acuarium Swim in rough waters in 10 hours 36 minutes in Cabo San Lucas. His participation and support of domestic swims from shorter (5 km Maratón Guadalupano and 6.1 km Durango Reto de Aguas Abiertas) to longer (10 km Por La Libre Cancún-Isla Mujeres and 18 km Cañon del Sumidero) and longest (22 km Reto Acapulco and 42 km Cancún International Swim) over 4 decades is his testament to his speed and stamina, passion and dedication. For ably representing Mexico for decades in professional marathon races from Italy to Argentina, Canada to the USA, Australia to Brazil, for swimming quickly across channels as a soloists (9 hour 50 minute English Channel in 1990 and 3 hour 27 minute Strait of Gibraltar in 2019, and for serving as a global ambassador of the sport, Jaime Lomelin Gavaldon of Mexico is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
Joe and John Zemaitis could not be more similar and more alike. In a year like no other, the two brothers from Arizona took to the seas, rivers and lakes from coast to coast during their off times. And swim they did, in warm and cold, tranquil and turbulent. Older brother Joe and younger brother John bring two totally different approaches to the sport: one is intense and diligent, the other is laidback and swims whenever. They both smile broadly and laugh frequently; they both enjoy adventures and love travel. They set a goal when both their work schedules allow and did 644 km worth of tandem swims in 2020. For their swims across Monterey Bay, Lake Tahoe, Santa Barbara Channel, twice around Manhattan Island, for Joe’s 112 km solo Roosevelt Lake swim in 47 hours 23 minutes, and for the boundless joy and goodwill and appreciation they have for others and the sport, brothers Joe and John Zemaitis of the USA are worthy nominees for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
Besides crossing the English Channel in 2004, 2014, 2017 and 2019, Julian Critchlow has researched, analyzed and explained the feats of swimmers of all ages and abilities across the English Channel for 16 years. He is analytical like no one else; he patiently and thoroughly documents the details of 2,804 English Channel crossings since 1875. His genius insight on the data enables him to view, present and comment on the English Channel community from both obvious and non-obvious perspectives, about both solo swimmers and relays. For his uncanny, thoughtful, highly inquisitive observations of the English Channel community, for his deep thinking and historical analyses of solo swims and relays across the most iconic waterway of the world, and his comprehensive accuracy in building, maintaining, and sharing the most authoritative English Channel solo and relay swimming database, Julian Critchlow of the UK is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
Nejib Belhedi, a former special operations officer and Lieutenant Colonel, has a long and varied career in the open water. He has been successful as a channel swimmer, cold water swimmer, stage swimmer, boat pull swimmer, extreme swimmer, and a marathon swimmer. While promoting and organizing Ouma events for children and teenagers throughout his native Tunisia, Belhedi has continued to create well-promoted televised marathon swimming events that inspire people from all walks of life and ages to take up their own personal, healthful challenges. For his 47 hour 50 minute record-setting 155 km circumnavigation swim around Djerba Island in Tunisia that was organized by Ajim from the Governorate of Mednine, for generating a tremendous amount of creative publicity and positive inspiration through national television programming, and for accomplishing these feats at the age of 69 years in his post heart surgery life, Nejib Belhedi of Tunisia is a worthy nominee of the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
Paul Georgescu, a 42-year-old multi-talented triathlete, physical therapist, coach, referee, water polo player, and professor at the International British School of Bucharest, took up his newly developed talent as an ice swimmer to an entirely new level. Less than a year after completing his first Ice Mile in 3.02°C water in a pool in his native Romania, he traveled to Hanusse Bay, Antarctica and set a Zero Ice Mile world record in 0.0°C water and 2.0°C air in 22 minutes 44 seconds at the bottom of the world. He then completed the 104 km Iron Gates of the Danube Swim in the middle of the pandemic. In a year of uncertainty and unknowns, Georgescu continues to seek adventures to inspire his students and the next generation, giving them confidence to face challenges with a strength of character and an air of positivity. For continuing to demonstrate a wide range of aquatic talents in cold and warm temperatures including at the Antarctica 2020 International Swim, for inspiring and mentoring swimmers of all ages in his native Romania with a record-setting Zero Ice Mile, and for transforming himself from a water polo player and triathlete to the fastest Zero Ice Mile swimmer in the world and an accomplished marathon swimmer, Paul Georgescu or Romania is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
With its economy trying to recover from a deep recession, Brazil became one of the hardest hit countries by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a double punch to event organizers, but Pedro Rego Monteiro found a way to continue the largest and most popular ocean swimming series in Brazil, the Rei e Rainha do Mar (King and Queen of the Sea) that he founded in 2013. Monteiro and his staff at Effect Sport worked diligently and creatively to stage the largest ocean multi-race event in Rio de Janeiro under strict safety protocols. The result was an unbridled celebration of communal excitement and athletic competition by thousands of open water swimmers where everyone adhered to strict face masking and social distancing rules. The Copacabana Beach extravaganza, with its music and television audience, was a welcomed change to balance the news of a recession and a pandemic. For his relentlessly positive and creative leadership to maintain a semblance of normalcy and safety among open water swimmers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, for organizing wide media coverage and spectator-friendly courses for the Rei e Rainha do Mar series in various locations in Brazil, for his massively huge promotional turn buoys and practical course solutions in the water and on the shore to host enjoyable events, Pedro Rego Monteiro of Brazil is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
Ronnie Wong has always worked hard, starting before he qualified for two Olympic Games in the 1970’s. But in the Year of COVID-19, he had to work especially diligently behind the scenes, making sure that the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim event was not removed from the Olympic calendar as had been rumored. Wong, the 68-year-old chairperson for the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee, worked the phones and gathered information and allies from the global open water swimming committee to convince the International Olympic Committee to, at least until the 2024 Paris Olympics, to keep with the only open water swimming event in the Games. For remaining an energetic and influential force while never calling attention to himself in continuing to promote and organize the sport at its highest levels, for working with the organizers of the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Olympics to navigate the delay of the marathon swim, and for remaining so passionate and objective after over two decades of service to the sport, Ronnie Wong of Hong Kong is a worthy nominee of the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
Give Ryan Stramrood a challenge and he will find a way to get it down – or he will push himself to his maximum physical and mental limits, calmly and with humility. Despite the ongoing pandemic, Stramrood achieved his Century Swim of the Robben Island in his native South Africa. By June, the 47-year-old had completed a total of 114 crossings at a 100% success rate over the cold, rough 7.4 km stretch of water between Robben Island and Cape Town. The 5-time Ice Mile swimmer with extreme swims in Patagonia, Russia and Antarctica including the first Ice Mile in -1°C water in the Southern Ocean is a motivational storyteller, writer and speaker who inspires many through his experiences dramatically told. For delivering inspirational messages with a powerful force of personality and through his speeches and articles based on mind-boggling extreme swims, for setting the bar at 114 for the most number of Robben Island solo crossings, and for being so versatile, hard-nosed and passionate in his aquatic adventures as a teammate, relay member, second, and solo swimmer, Ryan Stramrood of South Africa is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
To vote for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year, visit here.
Detailed descriptions of the nominees for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year nominees are listed below in alphabetical order:
1. Ana Marcela Cunha (Brazil, vote here)
Since first busting out on the international scene in 2006 as a 14-year-old, Ana Marcela Jesus Soares da Cunha has constantly maintained her success and passion for swimming. She has won world titles in 2011 (25 km), 2015 (25 km), 2017 (25 km), and 2019 (5 km and 25 km) while being named FINA’s top open water swimmer 6 times. In 2020, she moved to Portugal as part of Brazil’s Mission Europe program that enabled her to continue training and competing. She competed in the French Open Water Championships (3rd in 10 km, 1st in 5 km), the 36 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli (2nd), and the only FINA/CNSG Marathon Swim World Series event (2nd). Upon her return home to Brazil, she won the 10 km Madeira Island Ultra Swim and the 10 km Super Challenge at the Rei e Rainha do Mar. For always competing against and being competitive with the world’s best elite racers, for coming back from having her spleen removed in 2016, and for her constant smile and affable spirit in racing around the world, Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
2. Anna-Carin Nordin (Sweden, vote here)
Anna-Carin Nordin, the first woman in history to complete the Oceans Seven, has achieved a large number of marathon swims and extreme swims to her credit. The 49-year-old Swedish Honor Swimmer in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame continues to swim and smile, making friends all over the world. But even with more successful swims and additional exposure, Nordin remains humble, soft-spoken, and quietly ambitious. This year, she set off on another swimming dream with her typically small crew: an unprecedented stage swim in the Baltic Sea around Öland, the second largest island in her native Sweden. 333 km later, after a cumulative 117 hours 5 minutes in the water over 32 separate stages, she finished on Färjestaden right where she started 22 days previously. She swam the last 83 km by herself, without an escort kayaker with her father Karl-Erik Nordin coordinating her ground support. For attempting and completing the record-setting Öland Circumnavigation Stage Swim in her typically understated but triumphant manner, for adding another swim to her prolific open water swimming career with a deep passion and humble appreciation for the sport, and for carrying on with her ambassadorial role as an icon in the sport, Anna-Carin Nordin of Sweden is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Women of the Year.
3. Bárbara Hernández Huerta (Chile, vote here)
Bárbara Hernández Huerta is known as the Sirena de Hielo (Ice Mermaid) in her native Chile where she specializes in glacier swimming, winter swimming and high-altitude swimming. This year, she completed the 45.9 km 20 Bridges Swim around Manhattan Island in 7 hours 59 minutes to achieve the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming as well as completed an unprecedented 7.5 km high-altitude swim across Chungará Lake in the Andes Mountains in 10°C water in 2 hours 11 minutes at 4,517 meters in altitude. The child and adolescent psychologist also pioneered a 9.5 km course across the Beagle Channel in 1 hour 55 minutes in 7.8°C water and won the 30-39 age group in the 2019-2020 International Winter Swimming Association World Cup. For her adventurous spirit and passionate love of extreme swimming in all its various forms, for her sharing of her swims in dramatic venues on social media and on television, and for her inexhaustible joy that is clearly evident before, during and after her swims in cold water, Bárbara Hernández Huerta of Chile is worthy nominees for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
4. Cath Pendleton (Wales, vote here)
In a most unusual year, Catherine Pendleton, known as The Merthyr Mermaid, found an equally unusual path to become famous. Her quiet, matter-of-fact ambitions in cold water swimming, her eloquent, easy-to-grasp descriptions of her adventures in the Southern Ocean of Antarctica and inside the Polar Circle in Russia, her realistic understanding of the difficult challenges that she set for herself, and her passionate dedication to acclimate properly to The Ice was more than sufficient for her to become the protagonist in a BBC One documentary film. In January, the 48-year-old completed her 7th Ice Mile in Morocco and then, in March, became the first person to complete a Zero Ice Mile in 0.03°C water and -3.20°C air in 32 minutes 54 seconds in Antarctica. For representing the ice swimming community so well and so authentically on BBC and in the media, for achieving the first Zero Ice Mile inside the Antarctic Polar Circle in rough water conditions during the Antarctica 2020 International Swim, and for thoroughly and constantly enjoying her journey with a bright smile and a deep sense of gratitude for her supporters, sponsors and seconds, Cath Pendleton of Wales is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
5. Chloë McCardel (Australia, vote here)
43 is one of the most iconic records in the sporting world. 43 or the number of English Channel crossings by Alison Streeter, MBE was once considered an unassailable standard, a far-out world record that would stand the test of time. But Chloë McCardel continued to get closer and closer to reaching the standard set by the Queen of the Channel® with her 37th career English Channel crossing in August. As her channel crossings increase, so does her charity work for a number of causes, including those to fight domestic violence, and her reach to corporations in the financial and information technology industries, conferences, schools and organizations. The personable 35-year-old serves as an inspiration for business and education leaders and a mentor and an escort crew member for swimmers from all walks of life and ages, and the ambassador for a number of charitable causes. For completing 6 English Channel crossings in 3 months including 4 crossings in 16 days in a shortened 2020 season, for promoting marathon swimming and fighting domestic violence through her advocacy to a global audience, offering free online educational seminars to swimmers, for constantly serving as one of the most visible, highly sought-after and public ambassadors in the global open water swimming community, Chloë McCardel of Australia is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
6. Elena Savinkova (Russia, vote here)
Elena Savinkova was the dominant overall and 65-69 age-group winner in the 2019-2020 International Winter Swimming Association Winter Swimming World Cup. The Victoria team representative scored a total of 192 points, more than any other individual, male or female, in any age group at the 12th Winter Swimming World Championships in Lake Bled, Slovenia. She won 7 winter swimming titles swimming the 25m butterfly event, the 25m, 50m and 100m breaststroke events, and the 25m, 50m, and 100m freestyle events. For continuing her dominance in the winter swimming competition for the second straight year among women in their 60’s, for enjoying the challenge and ambiance of the International Winter Swimming Association World Cup series, and for being a gracious and passionate ambassador of winter swimming on the global circuit, Elena Savinkova of Russia is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Women of the Year.
7. Jaimie Monahan (USA, vote here)
Jaimie Monahan barrels on swimming longer and colder, all with a wide smile and many words of heartfelt gratitude for her escort team. The 41-year-old from New York continues to be able to push herself further and further into the extreme, while always staying humble and ever adventurous. In a shortened 2020 swim season she modified her usual globetrotting schedule and swam closer to home. She completed an incredible total of 18 circumnavigation swims around Manhattan Island, including history’s first Quadruple Manhattan Swim, a 184 km solo swim in 45 hours 24 minutes. She remains ready to help others, giving practical advice and inspirational messages to others, serving as one of the most accessible icons in the sport of marathon swimming, winter swimming and ice swimming. For completing twenty-nine 45.9 km circumnavigation swims around Manhattan Island over her career that has no sign of slowing, for pushing the limits with her local Mannahatta Project that complements her career of completing the Ice Sevens, 9 Ice Miles and dozens of marathon swims around the world, and for becoming the Queen of Manhattan despite a year of limited opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jaimie Monahan of the USA is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
8. Kyra Wijnker (Netherlands, vote here)
Building on two good years in 2018 and 2019, Kyra Wijnker started out fast – very fast – in the 2020 season. Before the International Ice Swimming Association season was cancelled, the 22-year-old Dutch phenom was able to win the Ice Kilometer at the Amstel IISA Netherlands Championships and at the Cheltenham IISA Great Britain Championships and finish 2nd in the Ice Kilometer in Veitsbronn at the IISA Germany Championships. At the Amstel Ice Swim, she was the second fastest 1000m swimmer overall, only slightly behind Christof Wandratsch. At the Ice Swimming Volendam, she was slightly behind overall winner Fergil Hesterman. At the IISA Great Britain Championships, she was a close third overall behind Wandratsch and James Leitch. At the Open Dutch Championship / Green Heart Ice Swim, she was only 1.5 seconds behind overall winner Fergil Hesterman. For starting out her third International Ice Swimming Association World Cup season so strongly with several victories, for swimming so quickly and pushing the top men on the World Cup circuit, and for maintaining such a positive attitude throughout the shutdown and working towards next season, Kyra Wijnker of the Netherlands is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
9. Mariel Hawley Dávila (Mexico, vote here)
For years through her marathon swims and channel crossings, attorney and author Mariel Hawley Dávila has been raising money for Quiero Sonreír to fund surgeries for Mexican children with cleft lips and palate, paying for oncological treatments for children with cancer, working with women in jail, and promoting health via Mexicanos Activos. Her selflessness and widespread charitable work has touched many people. She swims, she works, she writes, and she is a working mother who had to struggle on after the death of her husband in 2015. But after achieving the Oceans Seven, the 52-year-old continues on. She was one of the first to complete the 32 km Los Cabos Open Water Acuarium Swim in 10 hours 14 minutes. For establishing a new swim called the Cruce de Bahía de Banderas and pioneering a new 34 km course in the Pacific Ocean in 9 hours 14 minutes, for organizing a shorter 10 km Corazón de Mar Bahía de Banderas event to help expand the sport, and for being a strong, resilient, selfless mother in face of adversity, unexpected obstacles and challenges, Mariel Hawley Dávila of Mexico is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
10. Sarah Thomas (USA, vote here)
After her historic 134 km four-way crossing of the English Channel in 54 hours 10 minutes in 2019, Sarah Thomas became globally well-known. Highly respected and admired within the marathon swimming community, she is always poised and introspective in her constant media interviews. The 38-year-old has an inherently calm and humble demeanor that plays extremely well in the public eye. The impressions that she leaves – not only including her channel swim that will be remembered for centuries – are especially inspirational and poignant for people of all ages and from all walks of life. For her record-setting swim across the Anacapa Channel and for swimming the length of Lake Tahoe while sharing her story and her journey on podcasts, television shows, radio programs and media articles with an extraordinary depth of character and gratitude, for her engaging and friendly personality that is characterized with patience and a rare eloquence to explain channel swimming to the general public, and for her impeccable position as an icon of the sport who overcame breast cancer, Sarah Thomas of the USA is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
11. Susan Simmons (Canada, vote here)
In an unprecedented challenging year, Susan Simmons stepped up in a huge way, characteristically with her selfless, humble, compassionate demeanor. The 55-year-old from British Columbia shifted her focus from her own marathon solo swimming career to coaching, mentoring and guiding the Spirit Orcas, a group of Special Olympic swimmers who did an 80 km 8-week stage swim in Canada to raise funds for COVID Relief. Despite living with Multiple Sclerosis, she swam every stroke on the way with the Spirit Orcas in addition to encouraging them and celebrating with them. For safely increasing the distance in her second difficult swim with the Spirit Orcas, for positively dealing with MS while shepherding along her swimmers, for safely achieving her goals with Cheyenne Furlong Goos, Meliah Motchman, Maria Sharock, Aly White, Dixon McGowan, Drew Sabourin, Ben Vanlierop, and Lidia White, Susan Simmons of Canada is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
12. Valérie Grégoire (St Kitts & Nevis, vote here)
Valérie Grégoire is a marine biologist, open water swimmer, coach, triathlete, scuba dive instructor, Reef Check coordinator, and a PADI Instructor. She organized a 8.6 km memorial swim, the inaugural MV Christena Memorial Swim in St Kitts & Nevis in the West Indies. Her swim was established to honor the victims of the worst maritime disaster in the English-speaking Caribbean Sea. When the MV Christena went down off St Kitts, only 91 of the 320 people on board survived in 1971. In addition to her compassion, she also serves as the head swimming coach for the Special Olympics athletes and as coach for the St Kitts & Nevis Swimming Federation. For being multi-talented and tirelessly working to help others including serving as the lead instructor for the Swim to Win program on St Kitts, for volunteering her time with Special Olympics athletes, and for establishing a new memorial swim in the Caribbean Sea, Valérie Grégoire of St Kitts is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
To vote for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year, visit here.
Detailed descriptions of the nominees for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year nominees are listed below in alphabetical order:
1. Century Swim To Malta by Neil Agius (Malta, vote here)
2004 Olympian Neil Agius has increased his distance from 400 meters to 38 km around Gozo to 70 km around Malta and is now at 100 km when he swam from Sicily, Italy to his native country of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. His 28 hour 7 minute not only broke the existing record held by fellow Maltese Olympian Nicky Farrugia who also swam from Sicily to Gozo in 1985 in 30 hours 17 minutes, but it has also immediately inspired him to go further. The 34-year-old departed from Sicily at 5:15 am and arrived at St Julian’s Water Polo & Aquatic Club in Malta the next day at 9:24 am, with the swim becoming a subject of a documentary called The Long Swim Home. For creating and succeeding in a charity swim as part of the Wave of Change movement which raises awareness about marine pollution and threats to marine habitats, for setting a new record from Sicily to Malta, and for dreaming of longer, tougher and more ambitious goals as a result of his Sicily-to-Malta crossing, the Century Swim To Malta by Neil Agius of Malta is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
2. FINA/CNSG Marathon Swim World Series Victory by Leonie Beck (Germany, vote here)
Leonie Beck realized her dream, making it to the Tokyo Olympic Games in the 10 km marathon swim. Her hard work paid off as she finished in the Top 10 at the 2019 FINA World Championships. But punching her ticket to the Olympics would soon turn into an unexpected two-year wait when the COVID-19 pandemic delayed everything a year. But the delay appears to be working in the 23-year-old’s favor. In February, at the only FINA/CNSG Marathon Swim World Series event in Doha, Qatar, Beck upset a whole slew of world champions, Olympic medalists and the crème de la crème at the highest echelon of competitive open water swimming. For winning in 1 hour 56 minutes by 0.2 seconds over Olympic champion Sharon van Rouwendaal and 2019 FINA Best Open Water Swimmer Ana Marcela Cunha, for surprising herself with a victory over 53 competitors including European champion Arianna Bridi, Olympic silver medalist Haley Anderson, and 2019 FINA/CNSG Marathon Swim World Series champion Rachele Bruni, and for establishing herself as a dark horse Olympic 10K Marathon Swim medalist for Tokyo Olympic Games, Leonie Beck of Germany is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
3. HK360Xtreme Challenge by Mayank Vaid (India, vote here)
Mayank Vaid works as an intellectual property lawyer in Hong Kong, but the Indian triathlete wanted to do something unique and special in and around Hong Kong. Working with the renowned Shu Pu, he trained for the 45 km HK360Swim, but the circumnavigation swim around Hong Kong was postponed. Nearly a year later due to the COVID-19 pandemic and his newest plans, he started and completed the HK360Swim in 18 hours 8 minutes, that took him longer than expected. But he continued on because his goal was the 360 km HK360Xtreme Challenge that required him to dry off, hop on his bicycle and cycle 215 km around Hong Kong Island and New Territories, and then run 100 km around Hong Kong. 70 hours 19 minutes later after a series of unexpected adventures and physical challenges, Vaid ultimately completed his goal. For his tenacity and patience in training, planning and executing the first massive triathlon literally around Hong Kong Island, for tackling his first major marathon swim and then carrying on for a total of 70 hours 19 minutes, and for working well with Mercedes Benz and a slew of sponsors and support staff, the HK360Xtreme Challenge by Mayank Vaid of India is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
4. Ice Kilometer by Alisa Fatum (Germany, vote here)
At the 6th Ice Swimming Aqua Sphere German Open & IISA® World Cup, Alisa Fatum outdid herself – and faster than the entire rest of the field, including both men and women. In the early-season race, the 25-year-old German ice swimming speedster swam a 12 minute 49 second Ice Kilometer, even beating Olympian Rostislav Vítek (12:53), world champion Christof Wandratsch (13:22), American star Colin Bushweller (13:24), and Dutch icon Fergil Hesterman (13:37). In nearly breaking her own world record, she averaged a 1:16.9 per 100m without the benefit of a dive or flip turns in the 25-meter pool in Veitsbronn, Germany. For swimming only 4 tenths of a second slower than her existing Ice Kilometer World Record of 12:48:60, for swimming the 11th fastest Ice Kilometer in history including all males and females, and for elevating the expectations about the potential speed of elite female ice swimmers in the eyes of the global swimming community, the fast Ice Kilometer by Alisa Fatum of Germany is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
5. Lake Baikal Relay Eco-Crossing (Russia, vote here)
Russian swimmers Oleg Dokuchaev, Maria Chizhova, Pavel Komarov, Eugene Zozulya from Vladivostok and Andrey Bugay from Irkutsk crossed Lake Baikal that holds 20% of all drinking water on Planet Earth. Situated in the southern part of the Eastern Siberia, the quintet of Russian swimmers completed the 50 km course in 16 hours 11 minutes from Vydrino, Buryatia in 30-minute rotations as the water temperature fell from 14°C to 12°C and the air temperature dropped to 5°C and the winds picked up. Conditions continued to get worse until the water sunk to 5°C over the final 2 km, ending in Listvyanka, Irkutsk where the coldest water from the depths flow out to the Angara River. For dealing with increasingly colder and tougher over the entire 15-hour ordeal, for maintaining a high level of mutual support and focus while repeatedly handling the back-to-back immersions in cold water, and for completing an unprecedented relay crossing of the deepest lake in the world, the unprecedented Lake Baikal Relay Eco-Crossing by Oleg Dokuchaev, Maria Chizhova, Pavel Komarov, Eugene Zozulya, and Andrey Bugay of Russia is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
6. Lake George Two-way Crossing by Caroline Block, Ph.D. (USA, vote here)
Lake George has been crossed by marathon swimmers since 1958, but only infrequently to say the least. The 51.8 km Queen of American Lakes is a long, narrow lake in upstate New York. Dr. Caroline Block, the only person to attempt two-way crossings of the North Channel between Northern Ireland and Scotland, took her endurance, willpower and support team to the shores of Lake George to attempt an unprecedented 103.6 km two-way crossing. A tough 52 hour 24 minutes later, Block emerged victorious and smiling. The 36-year-old anthropologist became the first person to attempt and complete a double. For yet another multi-day non-stop marathon swim by a modern-day Renaissance Woman, for pushing herself beyond expectations and setting a world record, and for being so positive, personable and passionate about pioneering new swims, Dr. Caroline Block of the USA is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
7. Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli by Arianna Bridi (Italy, vote here)
Even after a disappointing 2019 when she failed to quality for the Tokyo Olympic Games and an unexpected pandemic this year that put a halt to her training, 25-year-old Arianna Bridi continued to train hard and did the frankly unexpected and totally improbable. Not only did she revive her long ongoing rivalry with Ana Marcela Cunha at the 36 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli in Italy, but she also beat all the professional men in a 1-2 all-female finish. But what was most remarkable in that professional marathon race was the world record that resulted. After decades of attracting the world’s best male and female swimmers in history including John Kinsella, Claudio Plit, Petar Stoychev, Veljko Rogošić, Paul Asmuth, Alfredo Camarero, Yuri Kudinov, Nasser Elshazly, and Nabil Elshazly, Bridi set an overall course record of 6 hours 4 minutes. For swimming faster than every other professional marathon swimmer – male or female – since 1954, for touching out Ana Marcela Cunha by a 1 second in a close race to the finish, and for setting the bar almost impossibly high on one of the world’s most famed marathon swimming courses, the Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli victory and overall record by Arianna Bridi of Italy is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
8. Monterey Bay Crossing by Catherine Breed (USA, vote here)
With a team of veteran Monterey Bay channel swimmers on her boat, NCAA pool swimmer-turned-marathon swimmer Catherine Breed dug deep and kept swimming through a cold, dark night across the foggy 40.2 km Monterey Bay in northern California. Without any sense of location due to fog that lay on the water surface, Breed could not distinguish between the water and sky for nearly the entire crossing. Effectively blinded by the conditions and guided solely through the fuzzy outline of her escort boat, she relied on the calm and experienced guidance of Kim Rutherford and Amy Gubser. In addition to the darkness of night and the thick blanket of fog, Breed encountered dozens of jellyfish with their painful venomous touch on her face and all over her body. She started in 14°C water and endured passing over the underwater Monterey Bay canyon with its water temperature drop and turbulent currents before finishing on the northern shore in 12 hours 42 minutes, the fastest time in history. For fighting through the pain of jellyfish stings, for completely trusting in her escort crew despite being disoriented throughout her crossing save for the last 500 meters, and for making a successful transition for warm-water chlorinated pools to the always dynamic marine environment with its unexpected obstacles, the record-setting crossing of the Monterey Bay by Catherine Breed of the USA is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
9. Peace Route Swim (Turkey, vote here)
Nine swimmers, ages 33 to 60, from Turkey took on an ambitious goal: to swim 91.27 km from Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus to the Turkish mainland. This was the first time this route had ever been attempted. Along the 37 hour 30 minute relay crossing in the Mediterranean Sea, Erman Akkaya (55), Temel Yakşi (60), Nükhet Atilgan (46), Mehmet Hilmi Soylu (43), Pelin Çelik (48), Zafer Özdem (60), Deniz Kayadelen (33), Burçak Tümay Pekel (33), and Murat Meto (47) encountered much marine life including sharks, while facing warm water and air. They laughed and they worried. They relaxed and they stressed out with the vastly dynamic sea conditions, ranging from a calm sea and tranquil conditions during the daytime hours to challenging turbulent conditions over a long night of uncertainty. For pioneering a new relay swim route from Northern Cyprus to the Turkish mainland, for bringing together young and older swimmers of both genders and various speeds in a successful relay, and for swimming for and celebrating peach through the expression of open water swimming on World Peace Day, the Peace Route Swim by nine swimmers of Turkey is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
10. Sea of Galilee Perimeter Swim (Israel, vote here)
The Sea of Galilee Perimeter Swim in Israel was a breakout celebration stage swim by Udi Erell, Doron Amosi, Ben Enosh, Ori Sela, Oded Rahav, Luc Chetboun, Shani Moskuna, Adina Faur, Amnon Salai, Ami Ginsburg, Dror Belkin, Or Kind, Tal Fridman, Tal Snunit, Avishag Turek, Oded Gross, Erez Tzuk, and Tzvika. Held under strict safety protocols in the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 18 Israeli swimmers swam 18.1 km, 15.7 km and 13.4 km respectively during the three-day stage swim. Their tandem swim course was close to the entire shoreline of the Sea of Galilee. The unprecedented 47.2 km cumulative perimeter swim presented logistical difficulties and required a large escort crew, but the tandem swim was successful in completing the three separate courses, swimming 48 km in total. For initiating another environmental awareness and protection program where the theme is to keep the Sea of Galilee clean and safe, for the original vision of Ami Ginsberg to established a new marathon course and offer a celebration of open water swimming in Israel, and for all 18 swimmers who showed selflessness throughout, embodying teamwork and sharing a profound sense of camaraderie throughout their three days at sea, the Sea of Galilee Perimeter Swim by 18 Israeli swimmers is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
11. The Original Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming by Kamil Resa Alsaran (Turkey, vote here)
Kamil Resa Alsaran became the first person in 45 years to complete the Original Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming with a successful 13 hour 9 minute crossing of the 28 km Bristol Channel in England. The Bristol Channel was last crossed in 1982, a difficult body of water to say the least, but Alsaran completed the swim at the age of 59. For becoming the oldest person to complete a crossing of the very tidal Bristol Channel and only the seventh successful swimmer in history, for completing the Original Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming to join International Marathon Swimming Hall of Famer icons Kevin Murphy and Ted Keenan as the only three individuals in history to achieve this feat, and for freely and humbly sharing his advice to properly mentally prepare for all his endeavors that includes many channel swims, the Original Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming by Kamil Resa Alsaran of Turkey is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
12. Travessia do Leme ao Pontal by Mariana Chevalier (Brazil, vote here)
Inspired by a famous Brazilian song Do Leme ao Pontal, the 36 km Travessia do Leme ao Pontal has become the most popular marathon swim in South America. Mariana Chevalier Santos, a 16-year-old competitive swimmer, set off at 2:02 am in March along the coast of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on a starry night illuminated with a full moon, not fully knowing what to expect. As she swam along the edge of the well-lit municipality, Mariana became seasick – and stayed that way. But she forged on for a total of 9 hours 42 minutes, especially a fast last 10 km when she picked up her pace and kick. The beauty of the shoreline scenery helped her focus on her goal to become the youngest person to complete the Travessia. For her precocious sense of adventure, degree of tenacity, and abundance of perseverance on her first major marathon swim, for becoming the youngest successful swimmer of the Travessia do Leme ao Pontal swimming the third fastest time among women in history, and for utilizing this experience for a follow-up success in the English Channel four months later on a 11 hour 55 minute crossing, the record-setting Travessia do Leme ao Pontal by Mariana Chevalier Santos of Brazil is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
To vote for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year, visit here.
Detailed descriptions of the nominees for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year nominees are listed below in alphabetical order:
1. Antarctica 2020 International Swim by Ger Kennedy (Ireland: vote here)
The Southern Ocean is at the bottom of the world surrounding the continent of Antarctica. Inhospitable to humans, but remarkably, Ger Kennedy organized a series of ice swims accessible around the ice-covered tundra to some of the most hardened ice swimmers on the planet. Antarctica 2020 International Swim was held inside the Antarctic Circle to celebrate Lynne Cox’s pioneering Antarctica swim in 2002 and enable people to swim short distances or Polar Ice Miles. From Argentina, the Polar Swimming Quest set off by ship and stopped in the Bellingshausen Sea and the Weddell Sea over a few weeks. 12 swimmers entered the cold waters of Antarctica with bioprene only with three major swims safely recorded. Paul Eugen Dorin Georgescu set a world record in Hanusse Bay in 0.0°C water with 22 minute 44 second Zero Ice Mile. Two days later, Ger Kennedy swam another Zero Ice Mile in Paradise Bay in 0.53°C water and -1.10°C air in 34 minutes 2 seconds, and Cath Pendleton followed up 10 days later in Hanusse Bay with a 32:54 Zero Ice Mile in 0.03°C water and -3.2°C air. For safely organizing swims by Kathryn Pratschke, Redy Redfern, Dee Newell, Jane Hardy, Tiffiny Quinn, Michelle White, Una Campbell, Martina Ring, Anne O’Donovan, Matías Ola, and Alice Kelliher in Antarctica with the help of Sean Cullen and Dimcea Lulian Zamfir, for encouraging marine conservation awareness while encountering challenging conditions, and for enabling the extension of the known physical boundaries for everyone involved, the Antarctica 2020 International Swim by Ger Kennedy is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
2. Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (Australia: vote here)
Australia’s relationship with freestyle dates to the 19th century. Since the front crawl was first popularized Down Under, many of the greatest and most influential marathon swimmers in history have been trained in Australia and then ventured internationally to establish their legacies around the world. Christopher Guesdon and the Panel of Five worked diligently to establish the Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame this year. The Hall of Fame dedicated exclusively to marathon swimmers and contributors released 37 names in August and a further 24 names in December in its inaugural Class of 2020/2021, an effort that collectively required thousands of hours of research and discussion by its nomination selection committees. For calling attention to the greatest Australian swimmers of all time, for promoting the accomplishments and achievements of Australian swimmers, coaches, organizations and handlers who through their career achievements have made a significant contribution to marathon swimming and for researching the history of the sport dating back generations, the Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
3. Der Mensch Als Fisch – Die Abenteuer von Otto Kemmerich friesischer Schwimmpionier by Erik Eggers (Germany: vote here)
Der Mensch Als Fisch – Die Abenteuer von Otto Kemmerich friesischer Schwimmpionier is a biography of Otto Kemmerich (1866-1952), an Honor Swimmer in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame who arguably took on the greatest cumulative risk of any open water swimmer in history. Kemmerich did many of his marathon swims unescorted – up to 46 hours alone without escort boats or support crews. German sports historian Erik Eggers covers three decades of his prolific career between the early 1920’s and the mid-1960’s until Kemmerich finally pushed the envelope too far and died during a 200 km stage swim from Denmark to Germany at the age of 66. For recalling the character, dreams, and vision of Kemmerich for contemporary audiences, for giving tribute to a truly colorful open water explorer and adventurer who weighed the risks of his challenges with detailed planning, and for telling about his experimentation with waterproof watches and implementation of other safety measures, Der Mensch Als Fisch – Die Abenteuer von Otto Kemmerich friesischer Schwimmpionier by Erik Eggers is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
4. Galilee Marathon Swimming Association by Guy Cohen and Eyal Schachner (Israel: vote here)
The Galilee Marathon Swimming Association was on a roll. Co-founders Guy Cohen and Eyal Schachner researched and compiled several decades of historical data about widthwise and lengthwise crossings of the Sea of Galilee since 1944. They planned, prepared and promoted the longest and most difficult solo swimming course in Israel in order to meet a growing domestic and international interest. But then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and everything came grinding to a hall. But the Association got busy again after lockdowns and travel restrictions were lifted and were able to safely organize and officially ratify the marathon swims and relays for 34 swimmers. For their energy, wisdom, seriousness that Guy Cohen and Eyal Schachner bring to the sport of marathon swimming, for their meticulous planning and organization of swims in a safe manner during a pandemic in the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea, for their data-filled website and authoritative resources that they make available to the international community, the Galilee Marathon Swimming Association is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
5. I Swim And Travel Around The World by Yasu Fukuoka (Japan: vote here)
Yasu Fukuoka is a 2-time Olympic marathon swimmer who entered the finish chute at the 2016 Rio Olympics in position to capture Japan’s first Olympic medal in open water swimming. Yasu, as he is known among his competitors, in the Japanese media, and among race directors around the world is a personable, passionate athlete who has literally traveled around the world to over 50 countries either racing or training in pursuit of an Olympic medal. In cooperation with his Dutch Olympic friends including gold medalist Ferry Weertman, world record holder Esmee Vermeulen, Paralympic gold medalist Lisa Kruger, Olympic physiotherapist Jan Herber, and Olympic coach Patrick Pearson, Yasu created a lifestyle brand of clothing that speaks swimming. For establishing the first authentic clothing brand for swimmers, for designing fashionable jackets, jeans, sweatshirts, shirts, baseball and knit caps, t-shirts, cases and towels specifically for swimmers, and for identifying and defining a persona and ambiance for those who love training and competing in the water, I Swim And Travel Around The World by Yasu Fukuoka is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
6. It’s Not About The Swim Webinars by Nuala Moore (Ireland: vote here)
The COVID-19 pandemic led to all kinds of unexpected and unprecedented changes in the swimming world. Lockdowns, quarantines, and stay-at-home orders became common. Pools were closed, teams stopped practices, competitions were cancelled. These mandates served as a catalyst to an exodus to the shorelines, many swimmers going in cold water for the first time. As a result, the Irish Coast Guard, and the Rescue services in Ireland responded to multiple weekly near-drowning incidents. Nuala Moore saw a gap between the experience and the foundational knowledge needed for swimming in sub-10°C water. She helps swimmers to safely swim within their limits in cold water and developed 2-hour online webinars on cold water injuries, focusing on the complex cocktail of cold water temperatures and distance swimming. For educating the influx of swimmers transitioning to the cold and comprehensively explaining the how-to’s, do’s and don’ts of safely venturing past the shorelines, for helping develop a passion and respect for the sea among less experienced swimmers, and for addressing safety issues for swimmers in cold open water, the It’s Not About The Swim Webinars by Nuala Moore is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
7. Kosatka DV by Oleg Dokuchaev (Russia: vote here)
Vladivostok is site of Kosatka DV, a winter swimming club and center with hundreds of passionate swimmers and year-round competitions led by President, Founder and Head Coach Oleg Dokuchaev. But the club’s reach and renowned reputation goes far beyond the port city in eastern Russia. The club organizes and trains people for extreme swims, eco-marathon swimming relays, and other open water swimming adventures with a goal of marine conservationism and environmentalism in Far East Russia. Based on his experience organizing the 86 km Bering Strait Swim, dubbed The Most Dangerous Crossing In The World, Dokuchaev organizes four other extreme swimming adventures while balancing the highest safety protocols with difficult challenges. For organizing the 75 km Amur River Swim for an 8-swimmer relay ending in Khabarovsk and the 160 km Peter the Great Gulf Swim for a 16-swimmer relay around the Empress Eugénie Archipelago in the sea around Vladivostok, for staging the 50 km Lake Baikal Crossing by a 5-swimmer relay across the famous Lake Baikal and the 75 km Russky Round Swim around the Russky Island by 14 swimmers south of Vladivostok, and for training, leading and motivating cold water swimmers of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to challenge themselves in distant extreme eco-swimming relays in unspoilt waterways, the Kosatka DV by Oleg Dokuchaev is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
8. Mallorca Open Swim by Boris Nowalski (Spain: vote here)
The waters around Mallorca vary in shades of sea greens and blues, from azure and baby blue to turquoise and royal blue. The beautiful coastline are the sites of Mallorca Open Swim sessions organized by Boris Nowalski. Mallorca is the largest island in the Balearic Islands archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea and popular holiday destination. Nowalski knows where the best coastal spots are to explore on any given day based on the local weather and climate conditions. For finding the optimal location for all swimmers can visit and enjoy swims along dozens of 42 different coastal courses on the island, for taking care of everything for their guests from safety protocols and improving stroke technique, and for providing memorable adventures and unique experiences in new destinations in the Mediterranean Sea, Mallorca Open Swim by Boris Nowalski is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
9. Marathon Swim Stories by Shannon House Keegan (USA: vote here)
When COVID-19 hit and pools and shorelines closed as a result, open water swimming coach and mentor Shannon House Keegan took to the Internet. Keegan found a niche and touched many hearts with her new Marathon Swim Stories program. Marathon Swim Stories is a weekly podcast that captures the lives, lifestyles, challenges, training habits, and accomplishments of marathon swimmers and ice swimmers around the world. For establishing a friendly, educational and inspirational corner of the Internet entirely and specifically dedicated to open water swimming in various forms, for serving as an motivational ambassador and experienced coach for a growing number of people from all walks of life, and for providing thousands of enjoyable downloads for open water swimmers to listen, Marathon Swim Stories is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
10. Maratona Aquática. Das Piscinas As Aguas Abertas O Guia Definitivo Do Treinamento Para Nadadores E Triatletas by Diogo Zoppi (Brazil: vote here)
Maratona Aquática. Das Piscinas As Aguas Abertas O Guia Definitivo Do Treinamento Para Nadadores E Triatletas is a thick Portuguese-language guide filled with details, explanations and specific workouts written by Diogo Zoppi to help educate coaches, swimmers and triathletes about training in swimming pools and in open bodies of water. Based on his experience as a professional marathon swimmer racing on the FINA Grand Prix circuit and his solo crossings like the 36 km Travessia do Leme ao Pontal in his native Brazil, Zoppi understands how swimmers can overcome all adversities including currents, wind, waves and marine life in order to succeed in open water races, triathlons and channel swims. For channeling his decades of experience and knowledge in the written word for the benefit of many, for addressing issues from warming up and post-swim recovery to nutrition to strength training, and for founding Swimming for the Planet aimed at environmental initiatives, Maratona Aquática. Das Piscinas As Aguas Abertas O Guia Definitivo Do Treinamento Para Nadadores E Triatletas by Diogo Zoppi is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
11. NOAA National Weather Service “Wave Safe With Bruckner Chase” Series (USA: vote here)
Beach goers know they must be safe around the coastal shorelines, but few people teach others what to specifically look for and know how to react in emergency or unexpected situations. Bruckner Chase and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration creatively stepped into this vacuum of information and produced the NOAA National Weather Service “Wave Safe With Bruckner Chase” Series. This groundbreaking series of demographically and geographically specific videos offers a plethora of visual assets and educational materials that is easy to understand and remember. For addressing specific hazards and risk factors along the coasts of American East Coast, the American Pacific Northwest, Southern California, Hawaii and American Samoa, for sharing and teaching actions that people can take and specific behaviors that people can adapt, and for taking a lifetime of experiences as a lifeguard and ocean athlete and transforming them to an impactful series of short educational videos that can literally save lives and empower people at the shore to make good choices for themselves and others, the NOAA National Weather Service “Wave Safe With Bruckner Chase” Series is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
12. OceanFit by Andre Slade (Australia: vote here)
When the COVID-19 pandemic slowed things down on dryland and with open water swimming events, Andre Slade of OceanFit sped up, big-time. When pools were closed, swimmers flocked to the open water and sought information and camaraderie among like-minded aquatic enthusiasts. OceanFit filled that vacuum and helped make open water swimming accessible to an entirely new slew of open water swimmers throughout Australia. Training programs were offered for free, up-to-date information on events and virtual swims were shared with over 13,000 swimmers. For launching the ONSHORE podcast featuring 39 interviews from Victoria to Queensland that share stories from Australia’s east coast and Swim Buddies to enable people to register a profile (like Facebook) and contact with others to meet up for swims, for growing a Social Swimming Group directory to generate a more enlightened and educated swimming community, for launching domestic swimming holiday programs including Swim The Whitsundays, Swim Keppel Island and Swim Magnetic Island, and for taking a leadership role in exponentially growing the Australian open water swimming community with innovative programs and at unprecedented rates, OceanFit by Andre Slade is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
13. Ocean Grease by Edward Beck (Australia: vote here)
Marathon swimmers, channel swimmers, triathletes, ice swimmers and others have long used various kinds of grease and lubricants to prevent chafing on swims of all kinds and reduce the uncomfortable rubbing of skin-on-skin and swimsuit-on-skin. Years ago, anhydrous lanolin was readily available in pharmacies and other retail locations, but no longer. Edward Beck, a pharmacist, recognized the growing need and developed Ocean Grease, a range of anti-chafing lubricants made from a combination of anhydrous lanolin (wool fat) and petroleum jelly. For simplifying the pre-race preparations by open water swimmers of all ages by supplying a wide range of anti-chafing lubricants in various mixes to meet the needs of every swimmer, for making Ocean Grease available for easy online purchase, in small enough and competitively priced quantities in user-friendly packaging, and for understanding the vacuum in the market of growing channel and marathon swimmers, Ocean Grease by Edward Beck is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
14. Open Water Virtual Grand Slam by Mark Johnston (USA: see here)
In the midst of a near global lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mark Johnston from Flathead Lake in the state of Montana knew that he needed to do something positive and uplifting. So the race director and marathon swimmer created the Open Water Virtual Grand Slam, a multi-month catalyst and online social group that kickstarted hundreds of swimmers to join the growing global community of open water swimmers. With many pool closed and nowhere to swim, many looked at open bodies of water for the first time, but it took the attention and dedication for Johnston and other like-minded swimmers to develop and shape this new community. For organizing four competitive distances in the open water (800m, 1500m, 1.93 km and 3.96 km), for providing a low-cost means to participate and compete in something new and something fun and inspirational, and for rapidly developing and nurturing additional challenges like The Beast, an 128 km, 120-day virtual perimeter swim in Flathead Lake, the Open Water Virtual Grand Slam by Mark Johnston is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
15. ORCA SW Smart Wetsuit by Orbea (Spain: vote here)
The ORCA SW Smart Wetsuit is the next generation open water swimming smart wetsuit developed and distributed by Orbea. It is smart with an embedded NFC identification system; it is safe for integrating Restube connectors; it is highly visible with a bright orange color; it provides 4 mm thick thermal insulation for comfort in the open water; its fast with increased flexibility to swim efficiently in any conditions; its features enables self-confidence in the open water. For introducing the next generation wetsuits for newbies and veterans in any conditions, for enabling a number of leading edge safety features like visibility, Restube integration and an NFC identification system, and for elevating the standards and technology for triathletes and open water swimmers, the ORCA SW Smart Wetsuit by Orbea is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
16. RIO with Lucas Rivet and Anthony McCarley (Argentina/Brazil/USA: vote here)
Watching a 60-year-old man swim non-stop for hours on end has never been more dramatic or profound. Lucas Rivet produced a sensational hit with his 33-minute documentary film RIO. Cameras above, below and on escort boats capture Anthony McCarley at his strongest and at his most vulnerable during the 36 km Travessia do Leme ao Pontal and the 39.7 km crossing attempt of Río de la Plata between Argentina and Uruguay. With music and sound effects that pulsate throughout the film, McCarley shares his philosophical well-earned wisdom in a touching one-on-one relationship with the viewer. As the film fluctuates rhythmically between success and failure, teamwork and solitude, joy and fear, sunrise and sunset, McCarley constantly dispenses valuable life advice based on his own experiences and uncommon adventures in the oceans and rivers of the world. For its inspirational message that comes from the heart of a modern-day hero, for its camerawork that fills the screen with immensely powerful images, and for showcasing the strength of a humble adventurer, RIO the movie with Lucas Rivet and Anthony McCarley is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
17. Splash! 10,000 Years of Swimming by Howard Means (USA: vote here)
Open water swimming is considered the newest niche of aquatic sports, with its introduction at the Summer Olympic Games coming in 2008. However, mankind has been swimming in oceans, seas, lakes, rivers and bays for millennia. Howard Means takes readers of Splash! 10,000 Years of Swimming through the long history of open water swimming from mankind’s earliest ventures beyond the shorelines to the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Filled with wit and humor, Means tells the fascinating history of how, where and why humans swim – a sport that has been transformed during the COVID-19 pandemic with global closures of pools and a resurrection of people flocking to open water venues. For researching and teaching swimmers how their chosen aquatic activities came to be, for sharing swimming stories from Egypt, Greece and Rome through the Dark Ages, Middle Ages and Renaissance, and for explaining how swimming interacts with religion, fashion, public health, segregation, sexism and athletic glory, Splash! 10,000 Years of Swimming by Howard Means is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
18. Strong Like Her. A Celebration of Rule Breakers, History Makers and Unstoppable Athletes by Haley Shapley (USA: vote here)
Strong Like Her. A Celebration of Rule Breakers, History Makers and Unstoppable Athletes is a book by Haley Shapley that shares stories of various female athletes with larger-than-life characters and historic achievements that were mind boggling and record-shattering. Shapley tells the history of female strength to understand more profoundly how the physical power, stamina, endurance and creative vision of women can be encouraged and celebrated from the early 20th century to contemporary times. For illuminating the lives and accomplishments of four swimmers including Annette Kellerman, Rose Pitonof, Gertrude Ederle and Jaimie Monahan, for portraying these swimmer together with other famous female athletes, and for describing how their contributions to society – sometimes obvious, sometimes not – go far beyond their record-setting swims, Strong Like Her. A Celebration of Rule Breakers, History Makers and Unstoppable Athletes by Haley Shapley is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
19. Swim.com App (USA: vote here)
Swim.com app by Spiraledge is one of the leading swimming apps for setting goals, tracking your training, and comparing statistics with your teammates, friends and rivals around the global swimming community. Its latest iteration has ventured beyond the shoreline with significant improvements on some of the GPS limitations of the current smart watches on the market by radically improving the accuracy of distance and pace parameters. For Swim.com’s dedicated focus on developing cutting edge technology, for the app’s specificity for the open water swimming community, and for innovatively combining a swimming workout and training platform with the camaraderie and competition for swimmers of all ages and abilities, the Swim.com app by Spiraledge is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
20. THE PONDS, Still Waters Run Deep by Patrick McLennan and Samuel Smith (UK: vote here)
Producers Patrick McLennan and Samuel Smith captured the heart and soul of the swimmers of Hampstead Health, a well-established gathering place in London. The documentary film, created by Laser Guided Productions with original music by Dai Watts and executive producer Christopher Hird, tells the swimmers who regularly enjoy the waters of Hampstead Heath. The swimmers of all ages and from all walks of life are the subject of their documentary film THE PONDS, Still Waters Run Deep. For over 200 years, the beauty and tranquility of the segregated Men’s, Ladies’ and Mixed Ponds has drawn swimmers to relax, revive and recover from the stress of their dryland existence. For showcasing the confidence and joy of swimmers emerging from the Ponds, for presenting dramatically inspirational cases of resilience and recreation by men and women, and for presenting relatable human stories in the backdrop of a historic pond, THE PONDS, Still Waters Run Deep by producers Christopher Hird, Patrick McLennan and Samuel Smith is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
21. Wave Warrior by Matt Wild (UK: vote here)
From Captain Matthew Webb in the English Channel to Marilyn Bell on Lake Ontario, memorials and landmarks dot shorelines here and there around the globe commemorating a small handful of the greatest channel and marathon swimmers in history. Jonathan Ratcliffe figuratively entered the Parthenon of great swimmers with his year-end achievement of the Oceans Seven in 2019. With five children, ages between 10 and 25, each of them crewed individually alongside his wife on his seven challenging crossings, making the Oceans Seven truly a family affair. Matt Wild of BrewBabu celebrated Ratcliffe’s achievement with a specialty pale ale called Wave Warrior, an appropriately named for the British financier’s distance swims in waterways that were often cold and turbulent. For creating a specialty brew to celebrate one of the 21 people in history to achieve the Oceans Seven, for coming up with a great name to commemorate Ratcliffe’s Oceans Seven, and for helping promote the Oceans Seven and share Ratcliffe’s goal for his challenge charity efforts, Wave Warrior by Matt Wild of BrewBabu is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
22. Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui (USA: vote here) Why is the most asked question in the open water swimming world. Why did you cross the channel? Why do you swim in 0°C water? Why did you swim the marathon? Why do you train so much? Why is also arguably the most difficult question to answer. But Bonnie Tsui pens the most eloquent response in her highly acclaimed book, Why We Swim. She explains the seduction of the water in its various forms – from the frigid cold to the tropical warmth – from myriad perspectives in San Francisco Bay, Japan, and Baghdad. For elevating the joy of swimming and the raison d’être in the water to millions of swimmers and non-swimmers alike, for becoming an Amazon best seller and Time Magazine Must-Read Book of 2020, for sharing her thoughts on how to answer the question ‘why?’, Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui is a worthy nominee for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
To vote for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year, visit here.
Copyright © 2008 – 2021 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Southern California native, born 1962, is the creator of the WOWSA Awards, Oceans Seven, Openwaterpedia, Citrus Corps, World Open Water Swimming Association, Daily News of Open Water Swimming, Global Open Water Swimming Conference. He is Chief Executive Officer of KAATSU Global and KAATSU Research Institute. Inductee in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (Honor Swimmer, Class of 2001) and Ice Swimming Hall of Fame (Honor Contributor – Media, Class of 2019), recipient of the International Swimming Hall of Fame’s Poseidon Award (2016), International Swimming Hall of Fame’s Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award (2010), USA Swimming’s Glen S. Hummer Award (2007, 2010) and Harvard University’s John B. Imrie Award (1984). Served on the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee and as Technical Delegate with the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games, and 9-time USA Swimming coaching staff.