"The Unratified" - Chronicles of Incredible Swims: The Tale of Roman Urbina Crespo - Playa Agujas to Playa Heradura in Costa Rica

“The Unratified” – Chronicles of Incredible Swims: The Tale of Roman Urbina Crespo – Playa Agujas to Playa Heradura in Costa Rica

In the vast sport of open water swimming, there are tales of incredible feats, of swimmers pushing boundaries, and of journeys that inspire awe. Yet, not all of these tales meet the stringent criteria set by the rules for ratification. This series, “The Unratified,” delves into these remarkable stories, highlighting the challenges we face in ratifying certain swims and emphasizing the importance of meticulous pre-swim planning.

The Swim: Roman Urbina Crespo – Commemorative Swim Playa Agujas to Playa Heradura in Costa Rica

Román Urbina Crespo, a multifaceted Costa Rican athlete, is best known for founding La Ruta de los Conquistadores in 1993, one of the world’s most challenging mountain biking races. The three-day, 200-mile odyssey mirrors the route of early Spanish explorers from the Pacific to the Caribbean coast, pushes bikers through dense jungles, towering volcanoes, and unstable bridges, showcasing Costa Rica’s breathtaking landscapes. Urbina’s route design earned him the title “godfather of the multi-day bike race.” He is the first Latin American inductee into the Marin Museum of Bicycling and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. Beyond biking, Urbina is a triathlete, surfer, adventure racer, and open-water swimmer. 19 years ago, he set a marathon swimming record in Costa Rica, swimming 25 km across the Gulf of Nicoya in just 4 hours and 24 minutes. This swim, aimed at conserving the leatherback turtle and advocating for the Baulas Marinas National Park and paved the way for the inception of La Ruta de Los Conquistadores.

On February 9, 2023, Roman attempted an open water monofin swim from Playa Agujas to Playa Herradura, covering a distance of 13 km, though the straight-line distance between the start and end points is 11 km. The swim took 3 hours, 13 minutes, and 13 seconds.

Swim Details:

Shortest Straight-Line Tangent Distance From Start to Finish: 11km
Exact GPS Swim Distance Covered: 13km
Time of Swim Start: 06:18 AM
Time of Swim Finish: 09:31 AM
Exact Elapsed Swim Time: 3 hours, 13 minutes, and 13 seconds
Body of Water: Pacific Ocean
Body of Water Type: Ocean
Route Type: Point to Point, One-way
Swimming Stroke: Freestyle (Fin swimming using only butterfly kick)
Equipment Used: Monofin, snorkel, and goggles. Wore Garmin. He initially wore a cap but removed it during the swim.
Primary Escort Pilot Name: Marcel Oliveira
Experience: SUP national champion, one of the best watermen in the country
Primary Observer Name: Tomas Casas
Experience: 20 years of surfing, SUP, and various water sports
Additional Support Vessel: Only vessel used was the SeaDoo, 2 SUP, a small dingy, and a kayaker
Rules for the Swim: Start and never touch a floating object to rest. All needs must be given in the water and retrieved by the swimmer. Only 1 mono fin, snorkel, and goggles allowed.

Support Team: Marcel Oliveira, the SUP national champion, was part of the support team, guiding Roman on his SUP. Roman followed Marcel’s board, maintaining a distance of 15-20 meters. Roman hydrated once during the swim, drinking half a liter of electrolytes handed to him by Marcel without touching any vessel.

Documentation Issues: There was an issue with the Garmin GPS used during the swim, which recorded the time accurately but not the distance.

Intent: Roman’s primary goal was to inspire the youth and celebrate the 30th anniversary of his Gulf swim. He emphasized that the swim was not for personal notoriety but to motivate younger generations to pursue their dreams.

Communication with WOWSA: Roman communicated with WOWSA before and after the swim, providing all available information, seeking ratification and inviting WOWSA observers. However, due to the lack of complete documentation, the ratification process faced challenges. Roman expressed understanding of WOWSA’s process but decided not to pursue further ratification, offering the fee as a donation to WOWSA.

Quote: “This is a commemorative swim celebration 30 years of having established a world record being the first to cross the Gulf of Nicoya . I’m doing this swim to give an example of to the younger generations that adventures like this one are possible you only have to dream and do your home work and try to face your personal fears . It is a celebration of life and love for family , friends, life and nature . Thankful with god for so much !”

Reason for Non-Ratification: Broken GPS tracker

What Could Have Made It Ratifiable: Backup GPS tracker.


The world of open water swimming is filled with tales of amazing swims. While WOWSA aims to recognize and celebrate every achievement, the rules set forth ensure the authenticity and credibility of each ratified swim. “The Unratified” is not about undermining these incredible feats but rather a call to all swimmers to understand the importance of preparation. Proper planning, adherence to guidelines, and attention to detail can ensure that your swim is not only a personal achievement but a recognized achievement in the global OWS community. We hope these swims get the recognition they deserve and send a message that swimmers prepare, and dive into their next adventures prepared.

Congratulations to Román Urbina Crespo on his personal achievement!

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Discussion & Ratification of Román Urbina Crespo's Swim

Should we discuss and possibly ratify Román Urbina Crespo's swim with the rules & regulations committee?