World Open Water Swimming Association

Results of the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Awards


2020 World Open Water Swimming Association Award Winners

WOWSA announces the open water swimming “Man of the Year,” “Woman of the Year,” “Performance of the Year,” and “Offering of the Year” winners. 

MALIBU, California – February 2, 2021 – The World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA) is proud to announce the 2020 WOWSA award winners. The WOWSA Awards are an annual selection of the most remarkable individuals, performances and offerings in the open water swimming community.

59 nominees from 27 nations embody the sense of adventure, tenacity, perseverance and creativity for which open water swimmers are known.  The 2020 WOWSA Awards winners were selected by the public in a global online poll where one vote is allowed per person. A total of 71,628 votes were cast, resulting in the following winners:

  • Nejib Belhedi, Man of the Year (Tunisia) The 68-year-old former Lt. Colonel in the Tunisian Army completed a 47 hour 50 minute circumnavigation swim of 155 km around Djerba Island in Tunisia in a televised event that has inspired millions across the Middle East and North Africa region
  • Bárbara Hernández Huerta, Woman of the Year (Chile) The 35-year-old child and adolescent pyschologist completed the 20 Bridges Swim around Manhattan Island to achieve the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming, completed an unprecedented 7.5 km high-altitude swim across Chungará Lake in the Andes Mountains in 10°C water at 4,517m altitude, pioneered a new 9.5 km course across the Beagle Channel in 1 hour 55 minutes in 7.8°C water, and won the 30-39 age group on the International Winter Swimming Association World Cup.
  • Kamil Resa Alsaran, Performance of the Year (Turkey) The 59-year-old crossed the tidal Bristol Channel as its oldest swimmer and completed the rare Original Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming (North Channel + English Channel + Bristol Channel)
  • Kosatka DV, Offering of the Year (Russia) Kosatka DV organizes and trains people of all ages for extreme swims, eco-marathon swimming relays, and other open water swimming adventures and is led by Oleg Dokuchaev in eastern Russia.

The 59 nominees were chosen from the thousands of heroes and heroines in the sport:

  • Man of the Year Nominees: André Wiersig (Germany), Evan Morrison (USA), Gregorio Paltrinieri (Italy), Henri Kaarma (Estonia), Jaime Lomelin (Mexico), Joe & John Zemaitis (USA), Julian Critchlow (UK), Nejib Belhedi (Tunisia), Paul Georgescu (Romania), Pedro Rego Monteiro (Brazil), Ronnie Wong (Hong Kong), Ryan Stramrood (South Africa)
  • Woman of the Year Nominees: Anna-Carin Nordin (Sweden), Chloë McCardel (Australia), Mariel Hawley Dávila (Mexico), Sarah Thomas (USA), Susan Simmons (Canada), Ana Marcela Cunha (Brazil), Bárbara Hernández Huerta (Chile), Cath Pendleton (Wales), Elena Savinkova (Russia), Jaimie Monahan (USA), Kyra Wijnker (Netherlands), Valérie Grégoire (St Kitts & Nevis)
  • Performance of the Year Nominees: Neil Agius (Malta), Leonie Beck (Germany), Mayank Vaid (India), Alisa Fatum (Germany), Oleg Dokuchaev, Maria Chizhova, Pavel Komarov, Eugene Zozulya from Vladivostok and Andrey Bugay (Russia), Caroline Block (USA), Arianna Bridi (Italy), Catherine Breed (USA), Erman Akkaya, Temel Yakşi, Nükhet Atilgan, Mehmet Hilmi Soylu, Pelin Çelik, Zafer Özdem, Deniz Kayadelen, Burçak Tümay Pekel, Murat Meto (Turkey), Udi Erell, Doron Amosi, Ben Enosh, Ori Sela, Oded Rahav, Luc Chetboun, Shani Moskuna, Adina Faur, Amnon Salai, Ami Ginsburg, Dror Belkin, Or Kind, Tal Fridman, Tal Snunit, Avishag Turek, Oded Gross, Erez Tzuk, and Tzvika (Israel), Kamil Resa Alsaran (Turkey), Mariana Chevalier (Brazil).
  • Offering of the Year Nominees: Offering of the Year Nominees: Antarctica 2020 International Swim by Ger Kennedy (Ireland), Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (Australia), Der Mensch Als Fisch – Die Abenteuer von Otto Kemmerich friesischer Schwimmpionier by Erik Eggers (Germany), Galilee Marathon Swimming Association by Guy Cohen and Eyal Schachner (Israel), I Swim And Travel Around The World by Yasu Fukuoka (Japan), It’s Not About The Swim Webinars By Nuala Moore (Ireland), Kosatka DV by Oleg Dokuchaev (Russia), Mallorca Open Swim by Boris Nowalski (Spain), Marathon Swim Stories by Shannon House Keegan (USA), Maratona Aquática. Das Piscinas As Aguas Abertas O Guia Definitivo Do Treinamento Para Nadadores E Triatletas by Diogo Zoppi (Brazil), NOAA National Weather Service “Wave Safe With Bruckner Chase” Series (USA), OceanFit by Andre Slade (Australia), Ocean Grease by Edward Beck (Australia), Open Water Virtual Grand Slam by Mark Johnston (USA), Orca SW “Smart” Wetsuit (Spain), RIO with Lucas Rivet and Anthony McCarley (Argentina/Brazil/USA), Splash! 10,000 Years of Swimming by Howard Means (USA), Strong Like Her. A Celebration of Rule Breakers, History Makers and Unstoppable Athletes by Haley Shapley (USA), App (USA), THE PONDS, Still Waters Run Deep by Patrick McLennan and Samuel Smith (UK), Wave Warrior by Matt Wild (UK), Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui (USA).

“Each of these nominees is very special. We have old and young swimmers, coaches, pilots, ice swimmers, authors, filmmakers, and organizers who have all positively impacted the sport in their own creative ways during the COVID-19 year where the sport grew exponentially due to pool closures,” says WOWSA founder Steven Munatones.

About WOWSA We educate, entertain, and enthuse those who venture beyond the shore. WOWSA is an international association dedicated to the organization, promotion and recognition of open water swimmers, events, records, trends, publications, films, podcasts and achievements in the world of marathon swimming, racing 25k and under, Olympic 10k Marathon swimming,  ice swimming, winter swimming, coaching and piloting.

For further information and photos of the winners, visit:

Press Contact
Steven Munatones
WOWSA Founder
+1 (714) 305-737

Woman of the Year


(verified votes (IP checked and duplicate email checked) as of January 31 2021 12 PM PST)

Man of the Year


(verified votes (IP checked and duplicate email checked) as of January 31 2021 12 PM PST)

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