World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Men

World’s 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Men

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Men’s Journal published its list of 50 Most Adventurous Men.

Without a doubt, these 50 men are daring, courageous, and audacious whose lifestyles are unique and mindsets are rare.

The list includes adventurers who focus on mountains like climbers (Alex Honnold, Mike Libecki, Erik Weihenmeyer, Ueli Steck, Tommy Caldwell, Dean Potter, Conrad Anker, Renan Ozturk), skiers (Cody Townsend, Chris Davenport, Jimmy Chin, Matthais Giraud), and snowboarders (Jeremy Jones, Travis Rice).

The list includes land-based explorers like an environmentalist (Wade Davis) and scientists (M. Sanjayan, Chris Begley).

The list includes a myriad adventurers of the terra firma (Colin Angus, Mike Horn, Mike Horn, Eric Larsen, Levison Wood, Bill Stone, Gregg Treinish, Erden Eruc, J. Michael Ray and Sebastian Copeland) as well as a cyclist (Danny Macaskill), a walker (Karl Bushby), runners (Anton Krupicka, Kilian Jornet, Kenton Cool, John Grunsfeld, Will Gadd), rescuers (Chhiring Dhenduk, Siddarha Gurung), and a storm chaser (Geoff Mackley).

The list includes those who prefer to deal in the sky and high places like a tight-rope walker (Nik Wallenda) and base jumper (Felix Baumgartner).

The list includes watermen like surfers (Greg Long, Laird Hamilton), kayakers (Tyler Bradt, Aleksander Doba, Ben Stookesbury, Chris Korbulic), a paddler (Mark Kalch), a submariner (James Cameron), shark conservationists (Greg Skomal, Chris Fischer), and free diver (Guillaume Néry).

But the list only includes one swimmer, Lewis Pugh.

While we understand the majesty of snow-covered mountains, dense jungles, inhospitable deserts, sheer cliff walls, and outer space, and the creative boldness of watermen who use equipment like surfboards, paddle boards, submarines and boats to push the envelope of what is possible, two men in this list stand out in our minds: Guillaume Néry and Lewis Pugh.

In terms of equipment and gear, they are least armed of the world’s 50 most adventurous men when they step off the shoreline. No clothes, no protective gear: they are suited up with the most basic covering around their private parts and eyes.

Like many others on the list, they can be easily killed and certainly injured in any number of ways. But like their fellow adventurers, they take calculated risks after careful planning and intense training.

But the Daily News of Open Water Swimming did its own research and compiled the following list of the 2015 World’s 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Men, listed alphabetically by last name.

The list includes contemporary aquatic adventurers as well as men who are close to retirement or past their prime (e.g., Kevin Murphy). The list does not include men who no longer around (e.g., Captain Matthew Webb), but it focuses on men who have done unprecedented swims of note or a significant number of risk-inherent channel, lake or marathon swims, men who proven themselves in both high-level competitions and solo swims, and men who have safely guided many swimmers of various abilities in rough waters, with emphasis on men who have repeatedly swum in waters that are colder, rougher and longer than the English Channel:

The list includes men from 19 countries including England, Mexico, Australia, South Africa, Tunisia, Russia, Italy, USA, Ireland, Dominican Republic, France, Spain, Estonia, Serbia, Argentina, New Zealand, Bulgaria, Slovenia, and Germany which is indicative that the sense of adventure in the open water is global and inherent among many,” explains Steven Munatones. “There are simply thousands of men who have done ocean, lake and river swims that are off the charts. But this list is symbolic of the very best, the crème de la crème. For example, what Cyril Baldock and Dr. Otto Thaning are doing in their 70s is remarkable and what Ram Barkai, Andrew Chin, Kieron Palframan, Ryan Stramrood, and Toks Viviers did in Patagonia was mind-boggling. Same with Nejib Belhedi who swam along the coast of Tunisia or what Vito Bialla is doing out to the Farallon Islands or what Salvatore Cimmino is doing with one leg or what James Pittar is doing without sight. Their accolades go on and on, but one thing appears to be true: these men like Craig Lenning and Pádraig Mallon are quiet, humble innovators in the open water, inspirational to many.”

Adventure involves not only the difficulty of the swim itself, but also the creativity of the course and uniqueness of the location. But toughness is one critical and fundamental element to be named on the list. “Personal toughests for me were our Antarctica one-mile swim in 2014, the attempt of the solo Russia-USA crossing last year, the English Channel, Patagonia Extreme Cold Water Challenge, and earlier on, my attempt with a bunch of Taiwanese to swim from Taiwan to China,” recalls Ryan Stramrood, one of the many South Africans on the list.

World’s 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Men:

1. Nick Adams, channel/marathon swimmer from England
2. Antonio Argüelles Díaz-González from Mexico
3. Cyril Baldock, marathon/channel swimmer from Australia
4. Peter Bales, escort pilot and channel swimmer in Cape Town, South Africa
5. Ram Barkai, ice swimmer from South Africa
6. Nejib Belhedi, marathon/stage swimmer from Tunisia
7. Vito Bialla, escort pilot of the Farallon Islands, California, USA
8. Alexander Brylin, channel ice swimmer from Russia
9. Andrew Chin, ice/extreme swimmer from South Africa
10. Salvatore Cimmino, amputee/marathon/extreme swimmer from Italy
11. Phil Cutti, extreme/relay swimmer from California, USA
12. Ned Denison, marathon/ice swimmer from Ireland
13. Marcos Díaz, marathon/adventure/charity swimmer from the Dominican Republic
14. Ted Erikson, channel/marathon/professional swimmer from Illinois, USA
15. Sylvain Estadieu, marathon/channel/butterfly swimmer from France
16. Christopher Green, marathon swimmer from England
17. Rafael Gutiérrez Mesa, escort pilot/governing body president from Spain
18. Colin Hill, ice/channel swimmer and event director from England
19. Henri Kaarma, ice swimmer from Estonia
20. Craig Lenning, marathon/channel/ice swimmer from Colorado, USA
21. Pádraig Mallon, marathon/channel/ice swimmer from Ireland
22. David Meca, channel/marathon swimmer from Spain
23. Vojislav Mijić, marathon swimmer/event director from Serbia
24. Darren Miller, Oceans Seven swimmer and event director from Pennsylvania, USA
25. Kevin Murphy, renowned marathon/channel swimmer from England
26. Forrest Nelson, marathon/channel swimmer and governing body president from California, USA
27. Quinton Nelson, escort pilot of the North Channel from Ireland
28. Matías Ola, ice/extreme swimmer from Argentina
29. Michael Oram, renowned escort pilot in the English Channel from England
30. Kieron Palframan, ice/extreme swimmer from South Africa
31. James Pittar, blind marathon/channel/extreme swimmer from Australia
32. Claudio Plit, marathon/channel/professional swimmer from Argentina
33. Jonno Proudfoot, extreme swimmer from South Africa
34. Lewis Pugh OIG, endurance swimmer/ice swimmer/ocean advocate from UK
35. Michael Read MBE, renowned marathon/channel swimmer from England
36. Stephen Redmond, Oceans Seven swimmer from Ireland
37. Philip Rush, marathon/channel/professional swimmer and Cook Strait escort from New Zealand
38. Albert Sobirov, ice swimmer from Russia
39. Petar Stoychev, marathon/channel/Olympic swimmer from Bulgaria
40. Ryan Stramrood, ice/extreme swimmer from South Africa
41. Martin Strel, marathon/stage swimmer from Slovenia
42. Dr. Otto Thaning, channel/marathon swimmer from South Africa
43. Jacques Tuset, prison island swimmer from France
44. Toks Viviers, ice/extreme swimmer from South Africa
45. Adam Walker, Oceans Seven swimmer and coach from England
46. Christof Wandratsch, ice/marathon/channel/professional swimmer from Germany
47. Brenton Williams, butterfly/ocean swimmer from South Africa [in photo above by Clive Wright]
48. Thane Williams, extreme swimmer from South Africa
49. Theodore Yach, marathon/channel swimmer from Cape Town, South Africa
50. John York, marathon/channel swimmer from California, USA

Each of these men are true heroes, for various reasons. Salvatore Cimmino, who is a disabled amputee, explains his extreme swims around the world, “I dedicate my efforts and this appreciation [for my swims] to the voicelesses because it’s not only an award for me, but also for all persons with disabilities who daily struggle for their rights.”

The list of the World’s Most Adventurous Open Water Women is here.

Copyright © 2008 – 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Steven Munatones