Open Water Swimming Community Honors its Best at 2022 WOWSA Awards

Open Water Swimming Community Honors its Best at 2022 WOWSA Awards

Open Water Swimming Community Honors its Best at 2022 WOWSA Awards

The 2022 WOWSA Awards Celebrates Exceptional Individuals, Events, Products, and Services

SAN FRANCISCO, California – January 8, 2023 – The WOWSA Awards, an annual recognition of excellence in open water swimming, announced the winners of its 2022 awards across six categories: Man of the Year, Woman of the Year, Performance of the Year, Para Performance of the Year, Event of the Year, and Product or Service of the Year.

The awards celebrate individuals and offerings that embody the spirit of open water swimming and have positively impacted the community, showcasing their determination, fortitude, and sense of adventure. Over 143 nominations were evaluated by the 94 members of the WOWSA Awards Voting Academy and narrowed down to 10 finalists in each category, hailing from 23 different countries.

More than 11,400 public votes were cast, with a 75% weighting from the WOWSA Academy and 25% from the general public, to determine the top three winners in each category. The results are as follows:

WOWSA Man of the Year: 

1st Place (Gold): Paddy Conaghan (Ireland) 

The 81-year-old completed a non-contiguous charity swim around Ireland, raising over €104,400, starting and finishing on Arranmore Island, swimming more than 300 times during the stage swim.

2nd Place (Silver): Lewis Pugh (South Africa) 

Completed the Coral Swim in the Red Sea Swim between 12-26 October 2022 when Lewis swam 123.42 km on a 16-day stage swim from Tiran Island in Saudi Arabia to Hurghada in Egypt to effect change in the marine environment.

3rd Place (Bronze): Gregorio Paltrinieri (Italy)

The 27-year-old won a gold medal in the 10 km, a silver medal in the 5 km, a bronze medal in the 4x1500m relay, a gold medal in the 1500m freestyle, and finished 4th in the 800m freestyle at the 2022 FINA World Championships.

WOWSA Woman of the Year: 

1st Place (Gold): Sarah Thomas (USA) 

The 40-year-old won the 16 km Swim the Suck, completed an unprecedented 70 km two-way crossing of the North Channel between Scotland and Northern Ireland in 21 hours 48 minutes, and continues to be the most accomplished marathon swimmer of the current era while serving as a global ambassador of the sport.

2nd Place (Silver): Ana Marcela Cunha (Brazil) 

The 30-year-old won gold medals in the 5 km and 25 km races, and a bronze medal in the 10 km at the 2022 FINA World Championships in Hungary, won a silver medal in the 10 km FINA Marathon Swim World Series in Israel, won a bronze medal in the 10 km FINA Marathon Swim World Series in Canada, won a gold medal in the 10 km FINA Marathon Swim World Series in Paris, and won a gold medal in the 10 km FINA Marathon Swim World Series in Portugal.

3rd Place (Bronze): Bárbara Hernández Huerta (Chile)

The 37-year-old won the 450m freestyle at the Iceswim Festival held in Estonia and completed a 35 km crossing of the North Channel in 12 hours 19 minutes.

Performance of the Year: 

1st Place (Gold): Sarah Thomas (USA) 

The 40-year-old pioneered an unprecedented 70 km two-way crossing of the North Channel between Scotland and Northern Ireland in 21 hours 48 minutes. Her first leg was 10 hours 4 minutes; her second leg was 11 hours 42 minutes from Northern Ireland to Scotland.

2nd Place (Silver): Team Bits Missing (United Kingdom) 

Team Bits Missing pioneered an unprecedented disabled channel swimming relay with their 35 km North Channel crossing by above-knee amputee Catherine Sunley of England, above-knee amputee David Burke of Northern Ireland, above-knee amputee Andrew Smith of England, above-knee amputee Mary Clewlow-Self of Wales, and above-knee amputee Jonty Warneken of England in 15 hours 8 minutes.

3rd Place (Bronze): Adherbal de Oliveira (Brazil)

The 52-year-old shark attack survivor completed the 50 km Travessia da Praia Vermelha à Barra de Guaratiba in 13 hours 57 minutes and the 16 km Travessia do Leme à Barra da Tijucato in 4 hours 25 minutes to become the first swimmer to achieve the LPSA Triple Crown (16 km, 36 km, and 50 km LPSA courses).

Para Performance of the Year: 

1st Place (Gold): Mark Omrod, MBE (United Kingdom) 

The 39-year-old triple amputee this amazing man swam 1 km in 35 minutes 48 seconds at Plymouth, raising more than £600,000 for charity.

2nd Place (Silver): Théo Curin (France) 

The 22-year-old quadruple amputee competed in the 57 km Maratón Acuática Internacional Santa Fe – Coronda, a professional marathon river swim in Argentina, with hand paddles, finishing in 8 hours 52 minutes.

3rd Place (Bronze): Team Bits Missing (United Kingdom)

Team Bits Missing is an unprecedented channel swimming relay that completed a 35 km North Channel crossing by above-knee amputee Catherine Sunley of England, above-knee amputee David Burke of Northern Ireland, above-knee amputee Andrew Smith of England, above-knee amputee Mary Clewlow-Self of Wales, and above-knee amputee Jonty Warneken of England in 15 hours 8 minutes.

Event of the Year: 

1st Place (Gold): S.C.A.R Swim Challenge (USA) 

The S.C.A.R. Swim Challenge is a 4-day stage swim in Arizona in the Saguaro Lake, Canyon Lake, Apache Lake, and Roosevelt Lake. At a total cumulative distance of 41.7 miles (66.9 km), it is one of the longest marathon swims and organized stage swims in the world, and part of the Triple Crown of Stage Swims.

2nd Place (Silver): Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean (Canada) 

Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean is a professional and amateur open water swimming competition held in lac St-Jean in Roberval, Québec, Canada since 1955. This event has been long considered to be one of the greatest professional marathon swims in history with an excellent organization that focuses on the athletes. The entire community celebrates the exploits and abilities of all of the athletes, from the fastest to the slowest, in the competition usually held in late July.

3rd Place (Bronze): Por Ellas (Mexico)

Por Ellas is held in La Paz, Baja California in Mexico to raise funds and awareness to breast and cervical-uterine cancer. Over its 13-year history, over 4,800 swimmers have swum in the 3 km, 5 km, 35 km relay, and 35 km solo races.

Product or Service of the Year: 

1st Place (Gold): Cork Distance Week (Ireland) 

The Cork Distance Week (Distance Training Week) is a marathon swimming preparation camp designed and led by International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator Ned Denison of Ireland. Held in Sandycove Island in Cork, Ireland as its base, the training camp lays the groundwork to high mileage and significant psychological stress with the goal to help its participants achieve their marathon swimming and channel swimming goals.

2nd Place (Silver): WOWSA Webinars & Education (USA) 

The educational section of WOWSA provides a series of world-class educational webinars and courses led by experts in their fields.

3rd Place (Bronze): Morocco Swim Trek (Morocco)

The MOROCCO SWIM TREK “Sahara Edition” is an international open-water swimming event for amateurs and professional swimmers. The event consists of 6 days immersion in the desert, between ocean and dunes of sand, with 4 heats of swimming, each one different.

The winners of the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year and the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year will receive a selection of gifts from leading open water swimming brands, including a Hydrastrong Swimsuit and accessories from Nike Swim, an Openwater Backpack from Orca, a protective swim cap from Hammerhead, an Evo Swim Parka from Red Paddle, and Nutritional Algae Tablets from Energybits.

The WOWSA Awards honor those who embody the spirit of open water swimming and make a positive impact on the community. The 2022 winners are a testament to the sport’s commitment to adventure, tenacity, and perseverance.

About WOWSA

WOWSA is dedicated to promoting and celebrating the joy and beauty of open water swimming around the world. From its popular blog, The Daily News of Open Water Swimming, to its comprehensive directory and online learning center offering training and certification, WOWSA supports the open water community, helping swimmers, coaches, and event organizers stay informed and connected. Whether you’re an experienced athlete or just starting out, WOWSA is a go-to resource for all things open water.

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