Greta Andersen To Speak At The Global Open Water Conference

Greta Andersen To Speak At The Global Open Water Conference

One of the greatest swimmers of all time, Greta Andersen, will speak at the 2010 Global Open Water Swimming Conference in Long Beach, California on June 5th.

If you want to hear about her solo swims in Hawaii, her head-to-head races in Mexico against the world’s top men, her 1948 Olympic gold and silver medal performances in the pool, her incredibly tough workouts off the coast of California, her 36-60 mile races in Lake Michigan or her famous victories in the English Channel races of the 1950’s, Greta will entertain you with her first-hand accounts.

Greta colorfully relived her solo attempt in the Molokai Channel, from the island of Molokai to Oahu, where she swam in a shark cage. After getting seasick in the turbulence caused by the shark cage, Greta swam outside the cage only to be surrounded by sharks. “After swimming with dolphins around me for a while, I thought everything would be OK,” recalled Greta who had no intention of getting out. “But, I kept on swimming and they were all around me, circling underneath. Always circling. I was in the water for a long time, but then they finally pulled me out. There were no questions asked. They just got me out of there. I had a lot of sponsors in those days – Hilton Hotels, Roman Meal Bread – so we were disappointed. But that is our sport – there are always risks.”

“And the races in the English Channel were incredible (see videos below). “We had helicopters covering the races. There was so much coverage and so many boats. With the traffic in the Channel, there was a lot happening. We didn’t have all the technology like today. We just swam hard.”

And so she did.

I used to hire lifeguards to paddle for me. [Down by Belmont Plaza], I used to go for daily 10-mile swims. Every day, training hard.”

Greta was renowned for her unrelentless stroke-per-minute pace. You can see her in a cap overtaking the world’s top men in the 1958 42K (26-mile) marathon swim in Guaymas, Mexico:



For a swimmer who held the world record in the 100-meter freestyle from 1949-1956 and who won a gold medal in 100-meter freestyle and a silver medal in the 400 freestyle relay at the 1948 London Olympics, these 10-mile ocean training swims were most certainly a step up in yardage. But her hard work paid off. Greta set English Channel records – in both directions – from France to England in 11 hours and 1 minute, and from England to France in 13 hours and 10 minutes.

Greta kept up a strong pace and a strong kick during her 1958 victory in Billy Butlin’s professional English Channel International Race which she won in 11 hours:



She also was the first person to swim the Santa Catalina Channel both ways (see photo above). “No one else had done a double-crossing before, so it was something to do. In those days, we didn’t know about the effects of the tides on a swimmer. I remember swimming for 4 straight hours over the same rock off of Catalina. 4 hours and I was swimming hard over the same rock. Instead of 26 hours, I should have down a 22-hour swim,” laughed Greta as she recalled her historic swim. “If I had known what I was getting into, I wouldn’t have done it.”

After a strong first leg of 10 hours and 49 minutes, she eventually finished in 26 hours and 53 minutese-per-minute pace. Her determination and sheer exhaustion upon her completion are quite dramatic, see below:



Greta will be joined by other open water swimming and triathlon illuminaries at the Conference held at the Long Beach Marriott in Southern California.

Her colleagues at the Conference will include 7-time world professional marathon swimming champion Shelley Taylor-Smith, English and Catalina channel swimmers Anne Cleveland and Forest Nelson, the world’s fastest swimming pro triathlete John Flanagan, Mr. Open Water Sid Cassidy, long-time chairman of the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee, FINA Sports Medicine Commission member Dr. Jim Miller, former two-time world masters open water swimming champion Gerry Rodrigues, Antarctica swimmer and founder of the Cadiz Freedom Swim in South Africa Ram Barkai, TRISLIDE and Foggle inventor Karen Smidt-Allard, Dr. Sultan Aziz of Bangladesh, a FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee member, Frank Flowers of the Flowers Sea Swim in the Cayman Islands, Captain Adam Smith, an inspiring representative from the Navy SEALs, Dan Empfield, the inventor of the triathlon wetsuit and founder of SlowTwitch, Steven Munatones, creator of the Daily News of Open Water Swimming, Paul Hekimian, founder of the LA Tri Club, Pedro Rego Monteiro, visionary founder of the King of the Sea Challenge in Brazil and Portugal, and a host of international guests including Mark Schubert, 7-time USA Swimming Olympic Swim Team coach and USA Swimming National Team General Manager, Paul Asmuth, winner of 59 professional marathon swims and an inductee in the International Swimming Hall of Fame, Pierre Lafontaine, CEO and National Team Coach for Swimming Canada and Mark Perry, British Swimming’s Open Water Swimming Performance Manager. Swimmers from Japan, New Zealand, Mexico and elsewhere will also be able to network and exchange information and experiences with each other.

The Long Beach Marriott is offering a special package deal for all conference attendees (ask for ‘USA Swimming Nationals’ special rate).

Upper photo of Greta Andersen finishing her historic Catalina Channel double-crossing swim by the Long Beach Press Telegram.

Copyright © 2010 by Open Water Source
Steven Munatones