Juan Ignacio Martínez Fernández-Villamil, The Heart of Navia

The work of Juan Ignacio Martínez Fernández-Villamil, also known as his nickname Moreno, was among the 15 selected nominees for the 2012 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

The World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year is meant to honor efforts and swims - successful or not, short or long - that (1) best embody the spirit of open water swimming, (2) are representative of the sense of adventure, tenacity and perseverance that open water swimmers are known for, and (3) have most positively influenced the world of open water swimming.

His nomination from the World Open Water Swimming Association reads,

"For 55 years, the Descenso a Nado Ría de Navia has captured the hearts and minds of the small town of Navia in northern Spain. For 55 of the 55 years, Juan Ignacio Martínez Fernández-Villamil or Moreno for short has been the heart and soul of the Descenso. The dances and the drama, the pageantry and the parades, the races and the revelry of the race are intimately ingrained in a truly magical week of non-stop activities. This priority on the athletes, this melding of culture and competition only comes about by a larger-than-life personality who places open water swimming at the center of his life’s work day in and day out, year in and year out. For his ability to inspire the community and sponsors, for his ability to weave the traditions of northern Spain so magnificently to a swim down a river, for his efforts to place smiles on swimmers of all generations for days on end, for his 24/7 availability to create a most picturesque event where swimmers are all placed on the top podium of priority, the year-round efforts of Juan Ignacio Martínez Fernández-Villamil are a worthy nominee for the 2012 WOWSA Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year."

The nominations are meant to recognize and honor some of the best efforts and swims that the global open water swimming world has seen. Reducing the number of nominees to 15 was extraordinarily difficult due to the incredible efforts and exploits of thousands of men and women in the sport. Extreme swimmers, disabled swimmers, ice swimmers, marathon swimmers, professional swimmers, administrators, coaches, pilots and swimmers from all walks of life thoroughly impressed their peers, the public and the media with their open water swimming exploits throughout 2012.

The 2009 recipient of the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year was the Cayman Islands' Andrew Smiley who completed the RCP Tiburon Mile in San Francisco, California. The 2010 recipient was the 202-mile relay swim by the Ventura Deep Six that swam down the coast of California. The 2011 recipient was Tunisia's Nejib Belhedi who swam the 1400K Swim Across Tunisia.

The 2012 WOWSA Performance of the Year nominees are
(listed in alphabetical order of their first name):

1. Alina Warren (Scotland), Swimming Great Glen Way
2. Brenton Williams (South Africa), Deep Blue Flying
3. Dan Projansky (USA), Flying Down The Red River
4. Dutch Ladies First (Netherlands), English Channel Relay Record
5. Frank Flowers (Cayman Islands), Blossoming In The Cayman Islands
6. Haley Anderson (USA), Silver Lining At the Olympics
7. James Pittar (Australia), Shelley Beach Swim
8. Juan Ignacio Martínez Fernández-Villamil (Spain), The Heart of Navia
9. Lexie Kelly (USA), Open Water Swimming Archivist
10. Night Train Swimmers (USA/New Zealand), SF to SB Relay
11. Penny Palfrey (Australia), Marathon Adventurer
12. Philippe Coizon (France), Bering Strait Crossing
13. Saint Martin Island Long Distance Channel Swimming in Bangladesh
14. Stephen Redmond (Ireland), Tsugaru Channel Crossing
15. Trent Grimsey (Australia), English Channel Record

Online voting will take place here at WOWSA until December 31st.

Juan Ignacio Martínez Fernández-Villamil is the long-time volunteer and driver of the multi-day and multi-event Descenso a Nado de la Ría de Navia and Vice President of the Amigos de la Ría de Navia in Asturias in northern Spain. Nicknamed Moreno, the retired industrial engineer has guided the Descenso a Nado de la Ría de Navia to become one of the World's Top 100 Open Water Swims as well as the Copa Asturias (Asturias Cup).

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source

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