Olga Kozydub won the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year after training like few have in terms of distance and racing a total of 307 km (192 miles) throughout the year against the world's fastest ultra-marathon swimmers. Her spectacular sophomore year on the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix circuit was something to remember. Kozydub went from a young 19-year-old newcomer on the world’s longest professional marathon swimming circuit last year to the world champion this year.
2013 WOWSA World Open Water Swimming
Woman of the Year Nominees
- Anna-Carin Nordin, The Oceans Seven First (Sweden)
- Charlotte Brynn, Channel Swimmer and Aquatic Adventurist (New Zealand)
- Diana Nyad, Xtreme Dreamer (U.S.A.)
- Kimberley Chambers, Ballerina Soars in the Open Water (New Zealand)
- Lorna Cochran, Near-nonagenarian Navigates Nirvana (South Africa)
- Lynn Kubasek, Volunteer Extraordinaire In The Pacific (U.S.A.)
- Martina Grimaldi, World Champion Racer (Italy)
- Michelle Macy, Reaching the Summit of the Oceans Seven (U.S.A.)
- Nadia Ben Bahtane, A Maternal Moroccan Miracle (Morocco)
- Nuala Moore, Going to the Extremes (Ireland)
- Olga Kozydub, Professional Marathon Swimming Champion (Russia)
- Poliana Okimoto, 3-time World Championship Medalist (Brazil)
- Sarah Thomas, Double Crosser (U.S.A.)
- Sally Minty-Gravett, 5 Decades in the Making (Jersey)
- Shelley Taylor-Smith, Serving with Distinction (Australia)
1. Anna-Carin Nordin, The Oceans Seven First (Sweden)
Quietly and steady as she goes, Anna-Carin Nordin set the Oceans Seven goal for herself without fanfare and without a team. Crossing by crossing, country by country, continent by continent, Nordin swam the globe in pursuit of crossing the 7 mightiest channels in the world. As she did mega-miles in training and submerged herself in ice swims under 5°C, she was prepared for any cold-water, warm-water or rough-water conditions she would encounter. The unassuming and humble mother of one became the first woman to complete the Oceans Seven over dozens of much more well-known colleagues. For her quiet determination, for her simple approach to the sport, for her achievement of the Oceans Seven, Anna-Carin Nordin is a worthy nominee for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
2. Charlotte Brynn, Channel Swimmer and Aquatic Adventurist (New Zealand)
Charlotte Brynn has a deep passion for the open water and the individuals she coaches. She also loves to push her own envelope of physiological potential as she competed in the World 10-mile Championships and the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, and attempted one of the most audacious channel swims in recent history. During her swim from Catalina to California, Brynn was hit by a shark in her swim late at night. The bump left a scar and a tooth on her hip. But she keep swimming and did not get out despite the blackness of the evening and the turbulence of the ocean. Brynn stroked on for another 11 hours before being fished out for hypothermia. For her dynamic spirit, for helping others realize their swimming dreams while she pursues her own, for her willingness to swim on despite a shark encounter, Charlotte Brynn is a worthy nominee for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
3. Diana Nyad, Never Giving Up On Her Dream (U.S.A.)
Few people in the world fail at something four times, and try again. Even fewer people fail at something for 35 years, and keep trying. But Diana Nyad kept her athletic dream alive for decades and finally achieved it at the age of 64. The charismatic media magnet and a former professional marathon swimmer from the 1970s dreamed, plotted, planned, and willed her way across 110 miles in the Straits of Florida from Cuba to Florida. 52 hours after swimming from shore to shore, her Xtreme Dream was finally realized. Faced with non-believers even among her team, she dramatically demonstrated why it is important to never give up on a dream no matter what your age. For her patience, for her belief in herself and her team, and for her relentless pursuit of a lifetime goal in the face of widespread doubt, Diana Nyad is a worthy nominee for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
4. Kimberley Chambers, Ballerina Soars in the Open Water (New Zealand)
Kimberley Chambers was 30 minutes from having her leg amputated after a traumatic fall down a flight of stairs. Nearly all hope had evaporated in the hospital, but destiny ultimately intervened. After her leg was saved, she took up swimming in order to avoid being disabled and unable to walk. After a difficult two-year rehabilitation period, she learned to love swimming and those in the sport. This year, she has blossomed in ways she could not have imagined before. She completed the Strait of Gibraltar in May, the Catalina Channel in July, and the English Channel in September en route towards her goal of achieving the Oceans Seven. For her optimistic view of life, for her deep sense of appreciation of her teammates and supporters, for her utter joy in the discovery of her vast potential, Kimberley Chambers is a worthy nominee for the 2013 World Open Swimming Woman of the Year.
5. Lorna Cochran, Near-nonagenarian Navigates Nirvana (South Africa)
At the age of 89, Lorna Cochran shows the joys and benefits of open water swimming as clearly anyone on the planet. She emerges from the open water with a smile as wide and bright as can be. She is gracious to all, she is eloquent with the media. She is a late bloomer to the sport who is cheered on by her 7 children, 24 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren, and numerous respectful fans. After she started competing in South Africa’s aQuellé Midmar Mile at 74, she kept on competing year after year – proving that some things do get better with age. For her passion for healthful living, for her continued participation in the world’s largest competitive race, for the example of healthful, meaningful living she represents, Lorna Cochran is a worthy nominee for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
6. Lynn Kubasek, Volunteer Extraordinaire In The Pacific (U.S.A.)
There is not a day that goes by without her cheering on or offering to swim with others. Her swimming friends come from all over the world. When not in the water, Lynn Kubasek is creating YouTube clips and online supporting swimmers day in and day out. She willingly and happily jumps on escort boats, prepares drinks, and offers to observe or crew on a moment’s notice or months in advance. Ocean water is seemingly in her blood; she wears lanolin as often than make-up; and marine life are her cherished friends. Always willing to help out, she has a permanent smile on her face in and out of the water. For her deep love of the ocean, for her profound sense of appreciation of the sport, for her overwhelming and all-encompassing sense of voluntarism, Lynn Kubasek is a worthy nominee for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
7. Martina Grimaldi, World Champion Racer (Italy)
The pressure is on always Martina Grimaldi; expectations always run high for the Olympic medalist. With little room for error, the Italian swimmer comes through more often than not. In lakes and seas, in cold and warm, she is always game, never complaining and always competing as best she can. Her swimming technique and swimming savvy are spectacular to watch, her graciousness in victory and defeat is admirable to observe. Tough as grizzled meat, streamlined as a dolphin, and experienced as can be, the Italian professional represents her sport and her country exceedingly well. For her always-on competitiveness, for her victories around the globe, for her skillset that is showcased every time she enters the water, Martina Grimaldi is a worthy nominee for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
8. Michelle Macy, Reaching the Oceans Seven Summit (U.S.A.)
Her love of the sport knows no limits; she serves as support crew as readily as she dives in the water for her own marathon swims. Michelle Macy was the first American and third person overall to achieve the Oceans Seven. The full-time Nike employee takes enough time out of her busy work schedule to become one of the most prolific and accomplished open water swimmers in contemporary times. Without sponsors and without hype, the friendly, thoughtful, seriously-minded swimmer moves about the globe to cross channels and help others in their own quests. For her world record time across the North Channel, for her achievement of the Oceans Seven, for her joyful willingness to crew for other swimmers around the world, Michelle Macy is a worthy nominee for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
9. Nadia Ben Bahtane, A Maternal Moroccan Miracle (Morocco)
She lives in a land where open water swimming is still unknown. But Nadia Ben Bahtane has a dream to be the first woman from Morocco to swim across the Strait of Gibraltar. With maternal responsibilities for her three children and professional responsibilities with her full-time marketing director position, she quietly goes about balancing her jobs at home, at work, and in the Mediterranean Sea. Day in and day out, even as she trains during Ramadan when she must fast 17 hours per day, she gives her all to family and work, with something left over for her swimming. For representing women who must balance everything without rest, for completing the Swim the Costa Brava 6 km as her first step towards completing the Strait of Gibraltar, for being focused on her swimming goals year-round, Nadia Ben Bahtane is a worthy nominee for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
10. Nuala Moore, Going to the Extremes (Ireland)
She worries about the sport’s nitty-gritty details, but she also has a great capacity – and compassion – to see the big picture. She ably and tirelessly handles the paperwork on land, and can also swim in as extreme conditions as Mother Nature can deliver. As the Secretary of the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association, she quietly and professionally manages the administration part of the equation. As an ice swimmer, she represents Ireland well in frigid waterways around the world. For her unsung dedication as a volunteer board member, for her participation in the unprecedented 6-day Bering Strait Swim, for her ice swims and her unwavering, unfailing support of swimmers of all abilities, Nuala Moore is a worthy nominee for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
11. Olga Kozydub, Professional Marathon Swimming Champion (Russia)
Young but hungry, small but daring, Olga Kozydub won the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix circuit with an outstanding sophomore season. Consistently in the lead, the 20-year-old won 3 races on the professional marathon swimming circuit while finishing 8 long races. Focused and savvy, she did not let wind or waves, stings or sunburn get her down. When the pace picked up, she stayed up. When the waves came up, she rose to the occasion. The 20-year-old Russian swam courageously throughout the year and has a promising long career ahead of her, demonstrating her prowess for all to appreciate. For her Grand Prix victories, for her focused intensity, for her love of competition, Olga Kozydub is a worthy nominee for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
12. Poliana Okimoto, 3-time World Championship Medalist (Brazil)
Over 3 tough races in 5 days against the fastest open water swimmers in the world, Poliana Okimoto proved that she is the best professional marathon swimmer in the world this summer in Barcelona. Earning a well-deserved gold medal in the showcase 10K event, Okimoto just missed out in the gold by 3 tenths of a second in the 5K and was the linchpin of Brazil’s bronze medal in the 5K Team Pursuit. Proving that size does not matter and one’s heart and mindset are ultimately the decisive factors, the slender Okimoto has established herself as the crème-de-la-crème among the world's elite women. For her courage in competition, for her dominating success at the World Championships, for helping promote the sport in unprecedented ways for the 2016 Rio Olympics, Poliana Okimoto is a worthy nominee for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Women of the Year.
13. Sarah Thomas, Double-Crosser (U.S.A.)
Back and forth, up and way, two-way, and double-crossing. If it involved doing anything in the water twice, Sarah Thomas is on her game. Her two swims in 2013, both the double-crossing of Lake Tahoe and the double-crossing of Lake Memphremagog, were unprecedented. Both extraordinary swims elevated her to the elusive 24-Hour Club status, finishing 42 miles in Lake Tahoe in 24 hours 12 minutes and 50 miles in Lake Memphremagog in 30 hours 1 minutes. Proving her mettle despite unkind conditions, she negative split both marathon swims. For her willingness to extend herself beyond what others do, for her courage to retrace her strokes in lakes throughout North America, for her two unprecedented two-way crossings, Sarah Thomas is a worthy nominee for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
14. Sally Minty-Gravett, 5 Decades In The Making (Jersey)
Sally Minty-Gravett is in it for the long term. Day in and day out, she walks the walk and talks the talk as one of the most trusted, experienced, capable coaches and motivators in the sport. From her first crossing of the English Channel in 1975 to her second in 1985...and her third in 1992...and her fourth in 2005...and her latest crossing in 2013, Minty-Gravett has successfully swum across the English Channel in each of the past 5 decades. Like her steady strokes between England and France, she unselfishly and constantly shares her knowledge with others in the seas as she unfailingly guides the Jersey Long Distance Swimming Club. For her successful crossing achieved 38 years after her first one, for serving as an iconic role model in the sport, for her burning passion so palpable and so bright, Sally Minty-Gravett is a worthy nominee for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
15. Shelley Taylor-Smith, Serving With Distinction (Australia)
The longest serving FINA committee member has served unselfishly since 1994: first as an athlete representative and then as a Technical Open Water Swimming Committee member. She was instrumental in the incorporation of the 5 km event, Olympic 10K Marathon Swim, and 5 km Team Pursuit event in the FINA program until she retired this year. She was the first female referee to serve at the Olympics. After a trail-blazing career as an athlete, she maintains the same intensity as an author, speaker, and inspirational coach. For leading Open Water Swimming Mastery, for instilling confidence in others with fears and worries, for continuing to pass on her knowledge to the next generation of swimmers, Shelley Taylor-Smith is a worthy nominee for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
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The World Open Water Swimming Association is pleased to present the 2013 WOWSA Award Nominees.
The nominees are presented in the following four categories:
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