James Pittar

James Pittar

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James Pittar is an Australian tax official and open water swimmer from Sydney who was inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Swimmer in 2009. He become the first blind swimmer to complete the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming and swims and raised over $AUS 100,000 on behalf of the Fred Hollows Foundation and works for the Rainbow Club Foundation which teaches disabled kids how to swim. He is a member of the Rottnest Channel Swim Honour Board and author of Blind Vision, his autobiography. He serves as a Marathon Swimming Mentor.


  • Claire Daniel wrote a book, Swimming the Continents, about Pittar’s aquatic exploits in the oceans, rivers and lakes around the world.
  • Pittar was the subject of the documentary, Swimming with Skyscrapers.
  • He wrote and released Blind Vision, his autobiography in the face of loss, triumph and love.


Pittar suffers from a genetic disorder called Retinitis Pigmentosa, which causes a degeneration of the retina. This disease was diagnosed when he was 16 after he suffered from rapidly decreasing vision. He was legally blind by 21 and completely blind by his early 30s.

Open Water Swimming Career

2019 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year Nomination

Pittar’s autobiography Blind Vision was nominated for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year award as follows:

Blind Vision is the autobiography of James Pittar, an Australian tax official who is an International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Swimmer. Pittar is not only a prolific marathon swimmer with myriad channel crossings around the world, but he also has raised over $100,000 on behalf of the Fred Hollows Foundation and works for the Rainbow Club Foundation which teaches disabled kids how to swim. Blind Vision shares his story from his sighted youth to becoming completely blind by his early 30’s due to the degeneration of his retina. For telling the hopes, dreams and challenges – both on dryland and in the open water – of a most incredible human being, for describing many of his aquatic adventures in as-yet-untold details, and for sharing the mindset of daring to be different, the autobiography of James Pittar, Blind Vision, is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

2012 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year Nomination

Pittar’s Shelley Beach Swim was nominated for the 2012 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year award as follows:

What you believe, you can achieve. Your dreams are deep within you; you feel it in your heart, you visualize it in your mind. James Pittar cannot see but he certainly envisions his marathon swimming goals – and all the good that comes from his sims. The International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer suffers from impaired vision, but that has not slowed him in dreaming and achieving all kinds of successes in the open water. His 12 km Shelley Beach Swim was another achievement in his impressively prolific body of work in the water and on land. Many swimmers have their favorite charities but Pittar’s lack of vision makes his charity swims on behalf of The Fred Hollows Foundation especially fitting. For his ability to envision and execute success, for his stature as a role model for visually impaired athletes, for his ability to help raise funds, James Pittar’s Shelley Beach Swim is a worthy nominee for the 2012 WOWSA Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year Award

The Bering Strait Swim was selected as the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year in a global poll managed by the World Open Water Swimming Association.

Bering Strait Swim

Relay Members in Bering Strait Swim:


1. Vladimir Chegorin, Russia

2. Maria Chizhova, Novosibirsk, Russia

3. Elena Guseva, Russia

4. Ram BarkaiCape Town, South Africa

5. Jack Bright, UK

6. Oksana Veklich, Blagoveshchensk, Russia

7. Aleksandr Jakovlevs, Jelgava, Latvia (Starter,Swimmer,Navigator)

8. Matías Ola, Buenos Aires /Tucuman Argentina

9. Henri Kaarma, Tallinn, Estonia

10. Toomas Haggi, Tallinn, Estonia

11. Nuala Moore, Ireland

12. Anne Marie Ward, Donegal, Ireland

13. Toks ViviersCape Town, South Africa

14. Melissa O’Reilly (‘Mo’), Lambertville, New Jersey, USA

15. Ryan StramroodCape Town, South Africa

16. Cristian Vergara, Santiago, Chile

17. Craig Lenning, Colorado, USA

18. Rafał Ziobro, Krakow, Poland

19. Andrew ChinCape Town, South Africa

20. Jackie Cobell, Tunbridge Wells, UK

21. James Pittar, Australia

22. Paolo Chiarino, Italy

23. Mariia Yrjö-Koskinen, Finland

24. Ivan Papulshenko, Ukraine

25. Zdenek Tlamicha, Czech Republic

26. Zhou Hanming, China

27. Oleg Adamov, Russia

28. Andrei Agarkov, Russia

29. Alekseev Semen, Russia

30. Tatiana Alexandrova, Russia

31. Roman Belan, Russia (Swimmer & Starter)

32. Elena Semenova, Russia

33. Alexander Brylin, Russia

34. Afanasii Diackovskii, Russia

35. Vladimir Nefatov, Russia (Swimmer and Chief Starter)

36. Evgenii Dokuchaev, Russia

37. Oleg Docuckaev, Russia (Swimmer and Chief Organiser)

38. Roman Efimov, Russia

39. Dmitrii Filitovich, Russia

40. Olga Filitovich, Russia (Swimmer & Starter/helper)

41. Victor Godlevskiy, Russia (Swimmer, Starter/helper)

42. Olga Golubeva, Russia

43. Alexei Golubkin, Russia

44. Alexander Golubkin, Russia (Youngest Swimmer at 13 yrs old)

45. Alexsandr Iurkov, Russia (Starter, Swimmer, Navigator)

46. Oleg Ivanov, Russia

47. Pavel Kabakov, Russia Swimmer, starter, navigator

48. Eduard Khodakovskiy, Russia

49. Aleksandr Komarov, Russia

50. Aleksandr Kuliapin, Russia

51. Andrey Kuzmin, Russia

52. Irina Lamkina, Russia

53. Vladimir Litvinov, Russia

54. Andrey Mikhalev, Russia

55. Victor Moskvin, Russia

56. Nikolay Petshak, Russia

57. Sergey Popov, Russia

58. Vladimir Poshivailov, Russia

59. Grigorii Prokopchuk, Russia

60. Dmitrii Zalka, Russia

61. Natalia Seraya, Russia

62. Viacheslav Shaposhnikov, Russia

63. Olga Sokolova, Russia

64. Andrei Sychev, Russia

65. Alexei Tabakov, Russia

66. Nataliia Usachaeva, Russia


67. Nikolay Khitrik, Russia (Organiser)

68. Lurii Melnikov, Russia (Organiser)

69. Sergei Chernukhin, Russia (Organiser)

70. Irina Makarova, Russia (Interpreter, Starter, helper)

71. Alexey Svistunov, Russia (President of Russian Book of Records)

72. Rafael Valdes Mendosa, Russian (Interpreter, Starter)

73. Evgeny Novazheev, Russia(Kite surfer)

74. Denis Berezhnoy, Russia (Kite surfer)

75. Sergey Semenov, Russia (kite surfer)

76. Mariia Netrebenko, Russia (mass media representative)

77. Viktor Muzhetckii, Russia (cameraman)

78. Vladislav Bochkovskii, Russia (mass media representative)

79. Vladislav Bykov, Russia (cameraman)

80. Dmitrii Timofeev, Russia (research team)

81. Victoria Brylin, Russia (recovery team)

82. Nataliya Fatyanova, Russia (Head of medical group)

83. Irina Zhidkova, Russia (doctor)

84. Aleksandr Gremitskikh, Russia (Chief Judge)

85. Krutikov Konstantin, Russia (mass media representative)

86. Gavriil Ugarov, Russia (research crew)

87. Denis Kabakov, Russia (support crew)

88. Kiriil Zaika, Russia (support crew)

89. Natalia Yael Szydlowski, Argentina (nutritionist)

90. Paolo Adolfo Testa, Argentina (coach)

91. Carlos Eduardo Reges, Argentina (doctor)

92. Anibal Ariel Calderon, Argentina (cameraman)

93. Guillermo Gallishaw, Argentina (cameraman)

94. Alasdair Ross McCulloch, South Africa (cameraman)


95. Yason Demeev, Russia (Chief of Hospital)

96. Oleg Revutskiy, Russia (surgeon)

97. Vyacheslav Grigoryev, Russia (traumatologist)

98. Valeriy Koshkin, Russia (dermatologist)

99. Svetlana Gulenkova, Russia (stomatologist)

100. Inna Lesnova, Russia (therapeutist)

101. Vladimir Savinskiy, Russia (doctor of functional diagnostics)

102. Sergey Demyanenko, Russia (Doctor of Clinical Laboratory Diagnostics)

103. Sergey Milovanov, Russia (anesthesiologist)

104. Denis Yakushin, Russia (anesthesiologist)

105. Georgiy Feodoridi, Russia (neurosurgeon)

106. Igor Rogushin, Russia (opthamologist)

107. Yuriy Obraztsov, Russia (infectionist)

108. Oleg Fartushin, Russia (radiologist)

109. Elena Ionova, Russia (pharmacist)

110. Larisa Popova, Russia (nurse)

111. Svetlana Demenok, Russia (nurse)

112. Galina Domnina, Russia (nurse)

113. Tatyana Bolshakova, Russia (nurse)

114. Svetlana Panidova, Russia (nurse)

115. Maya Surgayeva, Russia (nurse)

116. Ludmila Denisova, Russia (nurse)

117. Valentina Shilova, Russia (nurse)

118. Elena Repula, Russia (nurse)

119. Elena Kukurba, Russia (nurse)

120. Elena Sadovaya, Russia

121. Tatyana Nikolaeva, Russia

2015 World’s 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Men

Pittar was named one of the World’s 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Men in 2015 by the World Open Water Swimming Association.

2017 World’s 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Men

Pittar was named to the World’s 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Men in 2017 (alphabetized by last name) by the World Open Water Swimming Association:

1. Dr. Doron Amosi, extreme relay/cross-border swimmer from Israel

2. Antonio Argüelles Díaz-González, channel swimmer and endurance athlete from Mexico

3. Cyril Baldock, marathon/channel swimmer from Australia

4. Ram Barkai, administrator, event organizer and ice swimmer from South Africa

5. John Batchelder, butterflying marathon swimmer from USA

6. Nejib Belhedi, marathon/stage/boat pull swimmer from Tunisia

7. Alexander Brylin, channel ice swimmer from Russia

8. Luc Chetboun, extreme relay/cross-border swimmer from Israel

9. Salvatore Cimmino, amputee advocate and marathon/extreme swimmer from Italy

10. Jean Craven, marathon/extreme swimmer from South Africa

11. Ned Denison, IMSHOF administrator and marathon/ice swimmer from Ireland

12. Craig Dietz, disabled open water swimmer from USA

13. Ben Enosh, extreme relay/cross-border swimmer from Israel/USA

14. Udi Erell, extreme relay/cross-border swimmer from Israel

15. Stephen Junk, channel swimmer from Australia

16. Henri Kaarma, event organizer and ice swimmer from Estonia

17. Ger Kennedy, ice, underwater and extreme swimmer from Ireland

18. Craig Lenning, marathon/channel/ice swimmer from the USA

19. Neil Macaskill, extreme/cross-border swimmer from South Africa

20. Pádraig Mallon, escort pilot, event organizer and marathon/channel/ice swimmer from Ireland

21. Ingemar Patiño Macarine, channel/marathon swimmer from the Philippines

22. Andrew Malinak, administrator and cold water/marathon/channel swimmer from the USA

23. Chris Marthinusen, extreme/high-altitude swimmer from South Africa

24. Patrick McKnight, marathon/channel swimmer from the USA

25. Allan McLeland, Peak and Pond swimmer/climber from the USA

26. Darren Miller, channel swimmer and event director from the USA

27. Rohan More, marathon/channel swimmer from India

28. Gullupilli Narhari, extreme relay swimmer from India

29. Matías Ola, event organizer and ice/extreme swimmer from Argentina

30. Kieron Palframan, ice/extreme swimmer from South Africa

31. James Pittar, blind marathon/channel swimmer from Australia

32. Javier Mérida Prieto, disabled Triple Crown swimmer from Spain

33. Lewis Pugh OIG, ocean advocate and ice/extreme swimmer from the UK

34. Oded Rahav, extreme relay/cross-border swimmer from Israel

35. Stephen Redmond, channel/marathon swimmer from Ireland

36. Adrian Sarchet, marathon/channel swimmer from Guernsey

37. Ori Sela, extreme relay/cross-border swimmer from Israel

38. Dan Simonelli, coach/guide/observer and marathon/channel swimmer from the USA

39. Paramvir Singh, extreme relay swimmer from India

40. Albert Sobirov, ice swimmer from Russia

41. Petar Stoychev, marathon/channel/ice/Olympic swimmer from Bulgaria

42. Ryan Stramrood, ice/extreme swimmer from South Africa

43. Martin Strel, marathon/stage swimmer from Slovenia

44. Dr. Otto Thaning, channel/marathon swimmer from South Africa

45. Jacques Tuset, prison island swimmer from France

46. Toks Viviers, ice/extreme swimmer from South Africa

47. Adam Walker, coach, event organizer, and channel swimmer from England

48. Christof Wandratsch, event organizer and ice/marathon/channel/professional swimmer from Germany

49. Brenton Williams, event organizer and butterfly ocean swimmer from South Africa

50. Herman van der Westhuizen, extreme high-altitude swimmer from South Africa

Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Honourees

He is a member of the inaugural class of Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame honourees who were inducted on August 2020.

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