2016 WOWSA Awards


Cutoff Date and Time for Voting is January 1, 2017 at 12:00 am (California time)

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The nominees were presented in the following four categories:

2016 WOWSA Man of the Year Nominees

2016 WOWSA Open Water Swimming
Man of the Year Nominees

  1. Roger Finch (South Africa)
  2. Seti Afoa (Samoa)
  3. Tomi Stefanovski (Macedonia)
  4. Edoardo Stochino (Italy)
  5. Ferry Weertman (Netherlands)
  6. Nejib Belhedi (Tunisia)
  7. Ger Kennedy (Ireland)
  8. Alex Kostich (USA)
  9. Masayuki Moriya (Japan)
  10. Colin Hill (Great Britain)
  11. Ingemar Patiño Macarine (Philippines)
  12. Lewis Pugh (Great Britain)
  13. Christof Wandratsch (Germany)

1. Roger Finch (South Africa)
Roger Finch has literally traveled the world, smiling, swigging and swimming to his heart's desire...and to the rest of the global open water swimming community's joy.  Finch trained in South Africa for a Cook Strait swim that never got off the shore due to inclement weather, but he was able to get in a Robben Island crossing in Cape Town, encourage David Barra to set up the 20 Bridges Swim, a Circumnavigation Swim of Manhattan in New York for his friend Tracy Clark, and then crew for her and many others crossing the English Channel.  Along the way, Finch unexpectedly had a stroke and was hospitalized.  Down, but not out, his revival was touch-and-go, but his physicality and mindset enabled him to recover well enough to later complete a Boston Light Swim as well as head up the Varne Ridge English Channel Swim Camp outside of Dover and raise money for a new wheelchair for Ros Hardiman, a fellow English Channel swimmer.  For his globally-renown good nature and high spirits, for his remarkable rebound from what could have been a debilitating stroke, and for his humble, wholehearted generosity in helping other open water swimmers around the world, Roger Finch is a well-deserving nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

2. Seti Afoa (Samoa)
For three millennia, the people of Samoa have been entering the Pacific Ocean. Now Seti Afoa is expanding his cultural heritage to a friendly, international, competitive embodiment of his naturally beautiful environment. Afoa is extraordinarily busy man with a grand vision to make Samoa a South Pacific nation that brings local and foreign swimmers together in a number of events in Samoa, supported by the national health service, government and tourism officials, and people of the local villages. For organizing 18 ocean races and swimming holidays from short 400m swims for kids and 22.3 km inter-island marathon challenges, for welcoming and encouraging a mix of local and international participants in a celebration of the sport, for combining local traditions with safe, professionally managed events meeting international standards, Seti Afoa is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

3. Tomi Stefanovski (Macedonia)
Tomi Stefanovski has been competitive on the world-class level for three decades.  While masters swimmers comprise of the largest demographic group in the sport of open water swimming, there is no 40-somethings as competitive as the Macedonian water polo player-turned-professional marathon swimmer.  In 2016, he did the unthinkable again.  Not only did he place third in the 32 km Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean, seventh in the 36 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli, and win the 33 km Ohrid Lake Swim Marathon, but he also captured the overall title of the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix as a 45-year-old, tying with a man 20 years his junior, a remarkable 20 years after he captured his initial FINA Grand Prix title.  For coming back after 6 shoulder surgeries and never complaining about tough conditions or the cold, for positively and ably serving as a multilingual ambassador of the sport, for continuing his frequent podium finishes over an incredibly lengthy career, Tomi Stefanovski is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

4. Edoardo Stochino (Italy)
Edoardo Stochino has trained for years in the shadows of more renowned Italian stallions of the open water world.  He has competed in races around the world and represented his native Italy in short races and the longest on the professional marathon swimming circuit.  But 2016 saw Stochino finally break out and win his first overall title on the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix. He finished second in the 33 km Ohrid Lake Swimming Marathon in Macedonia and in the 32 km Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean in Canada, and ended the season with a gutsy performance in the 36 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli in Italy.  The 29-year-old stuck with his year-round training program and never gave up on himself as he finally reached his goal on top of the Grand Prix.  For his commitment to the sport and to his national team, for his sustained focus on training, and for his genuine love of racing in lakes, seas and oceans, Edoardo Stochino is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

5. Ferry Weertman (Netherlands)
Ferry Weertman has put in the miles in the pool, in the open water, and in airplanes as he devoted his life to becoming an Olympic champion.  He realized his dream come true with his dramatic victory at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games 10 km marathon swim.  He won gold under the most stressful of circumstances.  But the 24-year-old Dutchman stuck with his original plan and reeled in the initial Australian leader who was over 100 meters ahead of him during the second half of the race.  In a final sprint for the ages, Weertman out-sprinted, outstretched and out-touched Greece's Spyridon Gianniotis to win.  He did not even realize he won until he received a text on the beach from his friends halfway around the world. For his competitive spirit and composure under pressure in winning the Olympic gold in Rio, for his genuinely warm personality in answering questions from fans and the media around the world, for committing himself 100% to realize his dreams and believing in his preparation, Ferry Weertman is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

6. Nejib Belhedi (Tunisia)
Nejib Belhedi is one of the very few individuals who have carved out a clear niche in the sport.  Similar to Lynne Cox in her ice swimming exploits, Lewis Pugh in his extreme swimming events, and Martin Strel for his river stage swims, the former Lieutenant Colonel has singlehandedly created the World Iron Swim tour, and has dramatically pulled children and adults in multi-ton boats in televised extravaganzas.  Along the way, he has cheerfully inspired many of all ages and walks of life in his native Tunisia and throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East to take up swimming and their own personal challenges.  For his creativity of organizing increasingly more difficult World Iron Swims, for successfully pulling 2 boat totaling 70 tons 550 meters in 20 minutes in Bizerta Channel and for pulling another 70-ton ship called Mohamed Ali 350 meters in 39 minutes in Port El Kantaoui, for continuously and widely promoting swims of peace and the joy, challenge and healthfulness of open water swimming for people of all ages, Nejib Belhedi is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

7. Ger Kennedy (Ireland)
Ger Kennedy is one of the world's grittiest, guttiest swimmers specializing in The Ice.  His phenomenal 52-meter Under Ice Swimming challenge in -1ºC (30.2ºF) water in Yakutsk, Russia is an example of how the Irish ice swimmer loves to push his body and mind in myriad ways - and help others do the same.  He completed an hour Ice Bath Challenge and raced in various Ice Swimming Championship events from above the Arctic Circle to Tyumen to Lake Windermere.  He also tirelessly organized the Great Wicklow 10 km Swim, the Petrified Forest 6 km Open Sea Swim, the Great Dublin Swim on behalf of the East Coast of Ireland Open Water.  Whether it is Ironman swims in his native Ireland or ice swimming around the world, Kennedy lends a helping hand, a friendly eye, and a watchful eye for those who seek his advice.  He also conceived of the Ice Sevens Challenge, the cold water swimming equivalent of the Oceans Seven. For his under-freezing-water swim in the Lena River, for helping others achieve their open water dreams, for his creativity in establishing the Ice Sevens, Ger Kennedy is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

8. Alex Kostich (USA)
Alex Kostich has always been a very fast swimmer.  Although he first established his world-class credentials in the swimming pool as a young age-group swimmer and collegiate swimmer at Stanford University and at the Pan American Games, his open water swimming career has been highlighted by winning and finishing on the podium for decades in some of the most competitive ocean swims on the planet.  For 24 consecutive years between the ages of 23 and 46, Kostich has finished the Top 10 at the Waikiki Roughwater Swim against Olympians, professional swimmers and men half his age.  His track record is unparalleled not only in Hawaii, but also in the Caribbean Sea where he has dominated a number of races like the St. Croix Coral Reef Swim Race that he has won 18 times.  For keeping up near-daily hard 8000-meter workouts while working on major Hollywood films, for spreading kind words and sharing his personal experiences about these open water swims on social media, for demonstrating that age is much less a factor in staying competitive than a healthy lifestyle, a passion for the sport, and daily commitment to training, Alex Kostich is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

9. Masayuki Moriya (South Africa)
Japanese live in an island nation that stretches from the tropical paradise of Okinawa to its northerly prefecture of Hokkaido surrounded by the northern Pacific. Masayuki Moriya travels from north to south, east to west, traversing the entire nation while sharing his passion for open water swimming as a coach, race director, safety officer, channel swimming crew member, blogger, administrator and swimming holiday leader. He teaches newcomers including elderly masters swimmers and helps organize domestic championships for elite Japanese athletes. For his deep heartfelt love of open water swimming that he genuinely espouses in all his activities, for his leadership of the sport in the island nation of Japan, for his patience and investment of time and energy to help develop the sport in the Far East, Masayuki Moriya is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

10. Colin Hill (Great Britain)
Colin Hill is always around the shoreline, serving as either as a swimmer, television commentator, FINA representative, event organizer or ambassador.  He runs events like the Big Chill Swim in Windermere to the Chillswim Coniston - 5.25 miles End to End.  He quickly established a new era with the Great Swim Series and the 2012 London Olympics 10K.  His sweeping influence over the sport has helped usher in the mass participation events sanctioned by FINA as well as providing boat support for hundreds of swimmers to swim across Windermere.  He has the ear of the most influential powerbrokers in aquatics and is looked upon with respect from the hundreds of thousands of newbies that have participated in events established by the 46-year-old dynamo.  For his globetrotting activities to promote safety and mass participation in open water swimming, for his flawless execution of local and international competitions in Windermere and beyond, for his boundless joy in swimming in The Ice, across channels and lakes, and in the tropics, Colin Hill is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

11. Ingemar Patiño Macarine (Philippines)
Ingemar Patiño Macarine has transitioned from a middle-aged attorney to an inspirational athlete and channel swimming pioneer with a growing domestic and international fan base.  He has dreamed big and significantly energized the Filipino swimming community with an unparalleled track record of unprecedented solo marathon swims throughout his native Philippines. In 2016, he pioneered 5 different swims including a 10.9 km Sumilon Island channel swim, a 15.1 km Bohol Sea crossing, a 10.3 km crossing of Subic Bay, a 14.7 km Tañon Strait crossing, and a 16.8 km Cebu Strait crossing, but it was his well-promoted English Channel attempt and constant promotion of clean seas, marine conservation, and local tourism that caught the attention of a nation.  For encouraging a populace to enjoy and protect their surrounding marine environment, for eloquently explaining to a nation about the risks of an English Channel crossing, for continuing to conquer new channel and strait swims in a country with innumerable possibilities through his charity swims, Ingemar Patiño Macarine is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

12. Lewis Pugh (Great Britain)
Lewis Pugh swapped his swimsuit for a dress suit this year, but his legacy as the United Nations Patron of the Oceans was most effectively established as a result.  His tireless diplomatic efforts in dealing with politicians, government leaders and bureaucrats directly led to the establishment of the Ross Sea as a Marine Protected Area, a crowning achievement of his ocean advocacy.  His passionate education and lobbying of the 25 member nations of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources led to a positive vote to create the world's largest protected area.  For his logistics, organization and successful execution of his Five Swims in Antarctica for 1 Reason, for connecting these unprecedented solo swims with follow-up concrete action at the highest levels of government, for helping protect the Southern Ocean for the future benefit of mankind through his Speedo diplomacy and dramatic swims, Lewis Pugh is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

13. Christof Wandratsch (Germany)
Christof Wandratsch has always remained a flat-out, mind-boggling, world-class swimmer across channels, in lakes, down rivers, and in seas and oceans, but he has now extended his expertise to ice swimming. The 50-year-old was the world champion in 200 meters and 450 meters at the 10th World Championships in Siberia's Tyumen and was the overall champion of the International Winter Swimming Association World Cup as well as leading ice swimming camps and setting records across the Bodensee, and hosting the Ice Swimming German Open.  For his speed at any distance and any water temperatures and in any open water venue, for his cool-headed administration and inspirational ambassadorship in the ice swimming community, and for his cheerfulness and joy in sharing his love of the open water and ice swimming, Christof Wandratsch is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.


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2016 WOWSA Woman of the Year Nominees

2016 WOWSA Open Water Swimming
Woman of the Year Nominees

  1. Victoria Mori (Argentina)
  2. Rachele Bruni (Italy)
  3. Sharon van Rouwendaal (Netherlands)
  4. Olga Kozydub (Russia)
  5. Sally Minty-Gravett, M.B.E. (Jersey)
  6. Chloë McCardel (Australia)
  7. Pat Gallant-Charette (USA)
  8. Elizabeth Fry (USA)
  9. Cheryl Reinke (USA)
  10. Sabrina Wiedmer (Switzerland)
  11. Nuala Moore (Ireland)
  12. Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia)
  13. Samantha Arévalo Salinas (Ecuador)
  14. Jaimie Monahan (USA)

1. Victoria Mori (Argentina)
Victoria Mori is an unusual and unique athlete with a wide, warm smile and a vast range of abilities in the open water.  She not only competes in both the FINA/HOSA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup and the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix professional marathon circuits, but also on the winter and ice swimming circuits.  From competitive marathons in her native Argentina to pro events in Canada, Macedonia and Italy, she races as well as venues far north in the Arctic Circle in Murmansk.  The 23-year-old competes in the toughest open water swimming circuits on the globe, finishing in the top 5 among the marathon pros and on top of the podium among the winter swimmers.  For her versatility in the open water, for her willingness to travel the globe to compete against the world's best in both very warm and bitterly cold temperatures, for her role as an ambassador of the sport wherever she goes, Victoria Mori is a worthy nominee as the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

2. Rachele Bruni (Italy)
Rachele Bruni's career peaked in the final stroke of the Olympic marathon swimming final where she maintained enough forward momentum to capture the silver medal.  But the 27-year-old also demonstrated her speed, stamina, and strength in winning her second consecutive title at the FINA/HOSA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup professional circuit and two LEN titles in the 10 km and 5 km team relay.  Bruni battled within tight packs in every race on the national and international scene, expertly positioning and pacing, surging and sprinting as necessary to emerge as one of world's best open water swimmers. For maintaining her competitive spirit in every event around the world, for her intensity of training that leads to frequent podium positions, and for her tough international schedule, Rachele Bruni is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

3. Sharon van Rouwendaal (Netherlands)
Sharon van Rouwendaal reached the pinnacle of any swimmer's career this year: an Olympic gold medal in the 10 km marathon swim at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in a commanding performance by powering through the last loop of the Copacabana Beach course.  She swims under the direction of a coach who demands more work and asks swimmers to train more mileage than other swimming coaches.  But she welcomed the challenge and thrived under the massive mileage, and followed the grand historical Dutch successes in the open water.  She remains passionate about the sport and thoroughly versatile, ending the season with a 1.5 km victory in Hong Kong Harbour while also continuing to be a world-class swimmer in the pool. For her meteoric rise in the open water discipline to become an Olympic champion, for her courageously commanding strategy at the Rio Olympics, for her genuine, enthusiastic appreciation of the sport and its volunteers, Sharon van Rouwendaal is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

4. Olga Kozydub (Russia)
Olga Kozydub won her second FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix title, but her second victorious campaign was thoroughly dominating.  The 25-year-old won the 32 km Traversée Internationale du lac St-Jean in Canada by nearly 7 minutes and the 33 km Ohrid Lake Swim Marathon in Macedonia by nearly 3 minutes.  At the start of the 2016 Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli race in the Blue Cave, Kozydub knew that she could wrap up the title with a typically solid swim.  She swam confidently and finished just over 1 minute behind the defending FINA Grand Prix champion. For her steady stamina throughout a long season that was mixed in with 10 km World Cup races around the world, for her ability to handle all types of conditions and temperatures, for her love of competition including finishing second at the 25 km LEN European Championships, Olga Kozydub is a worthy nominee for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

5. Sally Minty-Gravett, M.B.E. (Jersey)
Sally Anne Minty-Gravett has been marathon swimming for five decades on an unprecedented streak where she swam across the English Channel in 1975 as an 18-year-old, in 1985 as a 28-year-old, in 1992 as a 35-year-old, in 2005 as a 48-year-old, and in 2013 as a 56-year-old.  Along the way, she unselfishly taught thousands how to swim and be safe in the sea.  After 27 years of helping put Jersey on the global open water swimming map as the president of the Jersey Long Distance Swimming Club, she finally had time to attempt her lifelong dream of train for and attempt a two-way crossing of the English Channel.  As tens of thousands of fans followed her virtually online and many more later heard, Minty-Gravett took the plunge and swam 36 hours 26 minutes non-stop from shore to shore to shore to achieve her goal.  For achieving her dream at the age of 59, for continuing to inspire others around the globe, for always lending a helping hand and warm smile to all those who seek her knowledge, Sally Anne Minty-Gravett is a worthy nominee as the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

6. Chloë McCardel (Australia)
Chloë McCardel continues on a remarkable roll to break the most hallowed record in the sport of open water swimming: the most career crossings of the English Channel.  With 14 crossings over the last 2 seasons, the personable Australian surpassed both Cindy Nicholas and Des Renford with her 20th and 21st career crossings in October. Not only is she now the 4th-ranking swimmer on history's Channel career crossing list behind Alison Streeter, Kevin Murphy and Michael Read at a young age of 31 years, but she also coaches a number of charity relays across the Channel while serving as an ambassador of the sport as the most popular, most followed, most prolific marathon swimmer on Planet Earth. For her over 30,000,000 individual Google hits and growing, for her inspirational coaching and motivational speaking engagements around the world, for her continuous ocean challenges that place her among the most legendary in the sport, Chloë McCardel is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

7. Pat Gallant-Charette (USA)
Pat Gallant-Charette continues to raise the bar and push the envelope what an older swimmer can do.  At the age of 65, three years after she swam for nearly 17 hours and was pulled less than one mile from the finish, the American nurse returned to the notoriously fickle North Channel between Northern Ireland and Scotland.  The dynamic nature of the world’s channels have always put the hard-working grandmother to the test, but her smile remains as brilliant at the finish as it is in the beginning regardless of the outcome.  Always cheerful and deeply appreciative to her crew and supportive family, Gallant-Charette became the oldest woman to complete a crossing of the North Channel in 14 hours 22 minutes.  For becoming the oldest woman to complete a crossing of the Catalina Channel, Tsugaru Channel, and North Channel, for her charity work and founding of the Valentine's Day...Swim for your Heart that brought awareness of heart disease and its prevention, for her warm-hearted joy that she permeates the sport and the community around her, Pat Gallant-Charette is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

8. Elizabeth Fry (USA)
Elizabeth Fry just keeps going and going.  As she works in the mentally exhausting, high stress financial services industry in New York City, her relaxation and calm comes from facing some of the harshest environments on Earth.  Not only did she work killer hours in the office, but she also took the time to travel the world and cross Japan's Tsugaru Channel in 15 hours 48 minutes, Hawaii's Molokai Channel in 17 hours 30 minutes, and California's Catalina Channel in 12 hours 37 minutes.  In between, the 57-year-old organized the charity swim for the St. Vincent's Foundation in a 25 km Swim Across the Sound and mentored others who wish to emulate the remarkable stamina of one of the world's most prolific marathon swimmers.  For her boundless energy that is enhanced by a bright smile and selfless mentoring, for her achievement of the unprecedented Reverse Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming, for being a genuinely humble role model with a remarkable lifestyle balance, Elizabeth Fry is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

9. Cheryl Reinke (USA)
Cheryl Reinke competes against athletes half her age or less - both in the pool and open water - and still occasionally comes out on top.  This year, the masters swim team coach topped herself with a victory in the world's longest swim race: the 7-stage 120-mile (193 km) 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim in New York.  Faced with a friendly rivalry against Paige Christie, the duo pushed each other to their outer limits over the week-long stage swim down the Hudson River.  Reinke constantly faced chop, currents and competition that led to a dramatic race resulting in her 38 hour 43 minute victory.  For demonstrating that older women can still maintain their athleticism and have a sporting chance against people the age of their children, for continuously seeking to push herself in the second half of her life, for mentoring and inspiring others of all ages to maintain a healthy lifestyle through aquatics, Cheryl Reinke is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

10. Sabrina Wiedmer (Switzerland)
Sabrina Wiedmer doesn't like the cold or jellyfish.  But once she started open water swimming in her adopted Ireland, she learned to compartmentalize the discomfort of the cold and eventually set a women's record in the Ice Mile in 25:51 and later tied a world record in the Ice Kilometer in 13:58.  A former sprint backstroker in Switzerland, Wiedmer quickly extended her reach to win local sea swims in Ireland and then cross one of the world's mightiest channel swims: the 21-mile North Channel between Northern Ireland and Scotland.  She also completed a Tory Island crossing, a Loch Lomond crossing, and set the record for the Dál Riata Channel after listening to channel veterans and studying from past attempts.  For learning how to effectively deal with the cold and marine life while setting two world records, for maintaining a wide smile and positively joyful attitude as she transformed from a pool sprinter to a hardened ice swimmer and a tough channel swimmer, for effectively acclimating to sub-5ºC water and across turbulent channels, Sabrina Wiedmer is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

11. Nuala Moore (Ireland)
Nuala Moore is increasingly in demand as an adviser, speaker and educator. After decades of being a professional scuba diving instructor and sea swimmer, along with marathon swimming experiences, Moore finally found her niche in The Ice in 2011.  Once she developed the correct mindset and acclimated properly, she achieved her goals and now works on developing the sport and post-swim rewarming and safety protocols with researchers, scientists and event organizers around the globe.  After her most recent 1 km ice swim, she immediately transferred to the recovery team, spending 7 hours working in the sauna managing the rewarming of 30 ice swimmers, many first-timers. For her heartfelt passion about sharing the technical aspects of ice swimming, its beauty and challenges, for working towards effective recovery protocols and widespread understanding based on her time in 0°C water, for frequently serving as a second for ice swimmers and establishing a foundation for newcomers to safely participate in ice swims, Nuala Moore is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

12. Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia)
Shelley Taylor-Smith did not retire after 7 consecutive years as the women’s #1 ranked professional marathon swimmer and 5 overall victories in the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim.  She did not retire after being the only woman to be ranked #1 among both men and women in the history of any sport.  She did not retire after serving for 2 decades on FINA committees. The 55-year-old continues to serve as an ambassador extolling the benefits and challenge of open water swimming from Europe to Oceania.  She coaches people of all ages to venture past the shoreline and instills confidence to replace their fears and worries, enabling them to create results that they didn’t believe they could achieve. For helping swimmers unpack their own personal power, for staying true to the needs of swimmers, for being a positive role model and an intensely passionate coach and speaker through her Open Water Swimming Mastery, Shelley Taylor-Smith is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

13. Samantha Arévalo Salinas (Ecuador)
Samantha Arévalo lined up in Copacabana Beach against the veterans from powerhouse open water swimming nations like the Netherlands, Italy, Brazil, USA, Germany Russia, Australia and Great Britain.  The 22-year-old from Ecuador trains at 2,400 meters (7,874 feet) altitude in Cuenca, high up in the Andes Mountain, far away from her competitors.  But she proved herself at the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim at the Rio Olympics when she came down to sea level, placing ninth overall.  Like her male teammates of Team Ecuador at the highest echelon of 10 km marathon swimming, Arévalo is fast enough, savvy enough and confident enough to compete with the world's best.  For representing her country of 15.2 million people very well on the Olympic stage, for being competitive enough to place within 36 seconds of an Olympic medal in a nearly 2-hour race, for being an eloquent, soft-spoken ambassador of the sport in a country not normally seen as a swimming hotbed, Samantha Arévalo Salinas is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

14. Jaimie Monahan (USA)
Jaimie Monahan seemed ubiquitous around the globe, certainly among the world's most prolific swimmers. In addition to winning the International Winter Swimming Association's World Cup and competing in Latvia, Russia, United Kingdom, China, Sweden, and Estonia, she completed marathon swims around Manhattan Island, across Italy's Lake Como, across Switzerland's Lake Geneva, in the Rose Pitonof Swim, across New York's Lake George, around Italy's Lago d'Orta, around New Jersey's Absecon Island, down the Hudson River, and in Bolivia's Lake Titicaca. She also did an Ice Mile in Iceland and serves as the President of the Lake Geneva Swimming Association despite leading a professional services firm in New York. For her impressive versatility in competing in ice-water sprints and warm-water marathons, for balancing a full-time job and a globetrotting swimming itinerary, and for her relentlessly genuine efforts to serve as a charismatic ambassador for marathon swimming and winter swimming, Jaimie Monahan is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.


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2016 WOWSA Performance of the Year Nominees

2016 WOWSA Open Water Swimming
Performance of the Year Nominees

  1. Toshio Tominaga (Japan) Tsugaru Channel Crossing
  2. Craig Dietz (USA) 10 km Marathon Swim
  3. Sarah Thomas (USA) Lake Powell Crossing
  4. Jennifer Figge (USA) Bermuda Triangle Swim
  5. Pieter Christian Jongeneel Anderica (Spain) Double Manhattan Circumnavigation
  6. Dan Canta (Romania) Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming
  7. Sean Conway (Great Britain) Swim Leg of the World's Longest Triathlon
  8. Hudson Brothers (Great Britain) Into the Maelstrom
  9. Cristian Vergara (Chile) Easter Island Circumnavigation
  10. Jarrod Poort (Australia) Olympic 10K Marathon Swim
  11. Javier Mérida Prieto (Spain) Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming
  12. Patrick McKnight (USA) Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming
  13. Spyridon Gianniotis (Greece) Olympic 10K Marathon Swim
  14. Isla Malvinas/Falkland Islands Challenge by Matías Ola (Argentina) and Jackie Cobell (Great Britain)
  15. Stephanie Hopson (USA) English Channel Crossing
  16. Carol Schumacher Hayden (USA) Catalina Channel Crossing
  17. Vasilly Mosin (Russia) Winter Swimming

1. Toshio Tominaga (Japan) Tsugaru Channel Crossing
Toshio Tominaga is a patient man.  Quiet and unassuming, the Japanese swimmer and former water polo player from Hiroshima worked for decades as he put this aquatic career on hold.  At the age of 62 upon his retirement, he started to make up for lost time.  He never lost his feel for the water and started to do channel swims and oceans swim both in Japan and around the world from Turkey to England.  But his dream swim was to cross the Tsugaru Channel in Japan.  At the age of 73, he finally got himself physically and mentally prepared.  On a nearly perfect day, everything came together as he crossed the channel in 9 hours 58 minutes from Honshu to Hokkaido.  For his flawless strategy in crossing a technically difficult channel, for realizing his dream to become one of history's oldest successful channel swimmers as a septuagenarian, for serving as a role model and maintaining his health, strength and dreams throughout his long life, Toshio Tominaga's Tsugaru Channel Crossing is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

2. Craig Dietz (USA) 10 km Marathon Swim
Craig Dietz has changed mindsets and expectations with his love of the open water. His ambitions are so inspirational; his message is so powerful; his courage is so compelling. The Limbless Waterman, born without arms or legs, has stepped up his swimming achievements to now include a 10 km marathon swim. With his 4 hour 12 minute completion of the Kingdom Swim in Lake Memphremagog, Dietz is the embodiment of the oft-spoken marathon swimming adage: Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. He is clearly defined not by the physical challenges he faces, but how he has faced the challenges he meets. A man with a sense of mission, humility, humor, and a hunger to succeed, Dietz is an athletic, undulating relentlessly to achieve his aquatic - and dryland - goals. For his degree of courage and breath of boldness ingrained in his DNA, for his depth of character and willingness to try to extend himself in the open water, for his charismatic personality that immediately creates fans and inspires wonder, Craig Dietz's marathon swim in Lake Memphremagog is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

3. Sarah Thomas (USA) Lake Powell Crossing
Sarah Thomas of the USA stretched her imagination and that of the entire global open water swimming community when the über swimmer from Colorado created a unique 81.8-mile (131.6 km) point-to-point ultra marathon swim.  56 hours 5 minutes after starting and zigzagging between the picturesque canyon walls of Lake Powell on the Arizona-Utah border in the western United States, Thomas walked up the boat ramp at Wahweap Marina at the finish like she just finished a one-mile warm-up.  Smiling broadly and chatting easily with a caked mixture of Desitin and lanolin, the 34-year-old's massively long solo swim was punctuated by stiff 20 mph winds (32 kph) and miserable conditions.  But she powered through the miserable conditions and two nights to set a standard that energized the global marathon swimming community.  For her awe-inspiring effort, for her genuinely joyful swim of over 56 straight hours, for keeping the global open water swimming community riveted to her steady pace over two consecutive days and nights, Sarah Thomas' Lake Powell Swim is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

4. Jennifer Figge (USA) Bermuda Triangle Swim
Jennifer Figge has been traversing the Atlantic Ocean since 2008 on a number of successful solo stage swims.  She has faced shipwrecks, marine life of all sorts and sizes, monstrous-sized ocean swells, logistical nightmares, and many months out in the open ocean swimming solo.  But nothing keeps Figge so alive and so energized as the freedom she feels while swimming across the Atlantic Ocean.  The 64-year-old gregarious adventurer set off on an unprecedented solo stage swim in one of the most storied locations on the world's ocean: the Bermuda Triangle where she is swimming 1,000 nautical miles from Grand Bahama Island to Bermuda across a turbulent, mysterious part of the globe.  For attempting to swim across the Gulf Stream and against oncoming winds heading into the North Atlantic and into the winter, for continuing to have the mindset, audacity, stamina and skill sets to spend weeks out at sea swimming up to 8 hours per day, for recruiting a hardy team of navigators and support crew to keep her safe against all odds, Jennifer Figge's Bermuda Triangle Swim is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

5. Pieter Christian Jongeneel Anderica (Spain) Double Manhattan Circumnavigation
Pieter Christian Jongeneel Anderica of Spain created a non-profit organization to help others, NGO Brazadas Solidarias.  His chosen charity swim of 2016 was a record-setting Double Circumnavigation Swim around Manhattan Island in New York City.  His long, lean frame and streamlined stroke enabled him to break the long-standing record of Skip Storch, but his effort was not immune to the winds and tidal interference that Manhattan Island presents to all its multi-circumnavigationists.  After 20 hours 15 minutes, the 42-year-old finished at South Cove where he and his crew had experienced everything imaginable including illness and oncoming tides.  For his grit and courage throughout, for his passion for helping others before and after, for his record-breaking swim of nearly a day, Pieter Christian Jongeneel Anderica's Double Circumnavigation Swim is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

6. Dan Canta (Romania) Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming
Dan Canta has taken an unusual road to become the youngest male to complete the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming.  A 17-year-old Romanian who lives in Melbourne, Australia, the teenager is the protagonist of The Swim Kid, a film documentary of his life and path to the Triple Crown.  After starting his Triple Crown journey at the age of 16, he completed the circumnavigation around Manhattan Island with the 20 Bridges Swim and an 11 hour 13 minute crossing of the Catalina Channel.  Along the way, he also completed an English Channel relay with his mother and 12-year-old brother.  For organizing a charity effort for the Robert Connor Dawes Foundation as part of his Triple Crown journey, for completing the Triple Crown at the young age of 17 as the first Romanian in history, for representing well the Brighton Icebergers as a mature ambassador around the world, Dan Canta's Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

7. Sean Conway (Great Britain) Swim Leg of the World's Longest Triathlon
Sean Conway tackled the 4,100-mile, 85-day, self-sustained British Ultra Triathlon with a sense of adventure and a twinkle in his eye.  But his last 17-day 161 km leg of sea swimming from Day 69 to Day 85 was nothing short of brutal and primitive. After his 5230 km cycle and 1287 km run, Conway swam by pulling a self-supported raft carrying all his supplies.  In a wetsuit, but cold, he fixed leaks on his raft, fished for food, slept on rocky beaches, sought cover in public restrooms, ate raw fish and seaweed stew, swam in pitch darkness at midnight, warmed himself with campfires to arrive knackered at his starting point after nearly 3 months on the road or in the sea.  For challenging himself for 85 days with the most primitive of means, for self-navigating and pulling along self-contained raft in a Discovery Channel television program called On The Edge, for keeping his wits and humor about him in the most merciless conditions possible, Sean Conway's swim leg on the World's Longest Triathlon is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

8. Hudson Brothers (Great Britain) Into the Maelstrom
Calum, Jack, and Robbie Hudson are adventure-seeking, adrenaline junkies who pursue aquatic challenges in risk-taking locations.  The three brothers tackled their most jaw-dropping traverses to date - crossing the largest whirlpools on Planet Earth.  After crossing the Corryvreckan near the Scottish Island of Jura, they headed off to Norway's Arctic Circle for a swim in partnership with World Wildlife Fund - Norge. They chose to swim across two very powerful whirlpools: Saltstraumen and Moskstraumen.  They swam across these violently swirling vortexes off the Norwegian coast above the Arctic Circle, risking their lives while crossing strong tides amid killer whales and Lion's Mane jellyfish.  Saltstraumen was a 10-minute focused sprint of 250 meters with less than 60 seconds to spare for death-threatening failure.  Mosktraumen was a 8 km 2 hour 31 minute crossing between the islands of Vaeroy and Mosken in 9°C water, Norwegian sea currents and storm flow, the furthest distance swum within the Arctic Circle.  For facing their deepest fears in terrifically perilous conditions, for raising awareness about the Norwegian government's plans to drill for oil in a wildlife haven in a brotherly tandem swim, for inspiring others to embark on their own challenges, the Hudson Brothers' Into the Maelstrom is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

9. Cristian Vergara (Chile) Easter Island Circumnavigation
Cristian Vergara will attempt one of the most remote marathon swims in human history.  Far, far from the shoreline of Chile sits Easter Island, a World Heritage Site 3,512 km away. Vergara, a renowned ice swimmer and veteran channel swimmer, has scouted a 38-mile (61 km) circumnavigation around Easter Island and worked with the local community and the Chilean Armada to pull off this unprecedented attempt.  In such tropical conditions where winds blow literally thousands of kilometers uninhibited across the Pacific Ocean, Vergara is planning for a 24-hour swim that may be tremendously turbulent in these unchartered waters.  For his creativity and imagination in identifying Easter Island as a marathon swim site, for his years of scouting, planning and preparing for this attempt, and for working with the local people and Chilean government to promote the Island to the rest of the world, Cristian Vergara's Easter Island Circumnavigation is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

10. Jarrod Poort (Australia) Olympic 10K Marathon Swim
Jarrod Poort knew what he wanted - an Olympic gold medal.  He knew he had to pull out all of the stops to perform the race of his life and realize his dream.  The 21-year-old and his coaches James Greathead and Ron McKeon came up with a risky strategy and trained to execute the unlikely plan like his life depended on it.  Right from the start of the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Poort took off like he was swimming the 1500m freestyle in a pool like he did at the 2012 Olympics.  He swam like a man fleeing a shark and immediately built up a huge lead.  He had to navigate the course by himself; he had no one to draft.  But once he sprinted off, he was confident enough in himself to press the pace.  For his gutsy performance against all odds, for sticking to his plan and leading for most of the Olympic final before a dramatic, globally televised collapse, for his post-race self-analysis that was equal parts self-effacing, humorous and deadly serious, Jarrod Poort's Olympic 10K Marathon Swim is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

11. Javier Mérida Prieto (Spain) Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming
Javier Mérida Prieto can kick, but just not with his right foot or calf, both which he does not have.  With his 11 hour 40 minute crossing of the Catalina Channel this summer and previous swims around Manhattan Island and across the English Channel, Mérida became the first amputee to complete the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming. Besides competing in triathlons and marathon runs, Mérida completes and competes in a variety of endurance events including marathon swims around the world, all while raising money and awareness for charitable causes.  For raising funds for various organizations including the Asociación de Familiares de Alzheimer, for enthusiastically raising awareness for his like-minded causes, for successfully taking upon a number of difficult events of stamina, Javier Mérida Prieto's Catalina Channel crossing to complete the first amputee Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

12. Patrick McKnight (USA) Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming
Professor Patrick McKnight made two attempts at climbing Mount Everest in 2014 and 2015, but then he turned his focus on completing the fastest Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming in history.  The 50-year-old had a target on a record set by a world-class 24-year-old from one of the hotbeds of channel swimming.  He made his plans, he bought his airline tickets, and he left no room for going off plan.  He started with a Catalina Channel crossing on July 12th in 11 hours 4 minutes; he crossed the English Channel on July 21st in 12 hours 54 minutes; he completed his Manhattan Island circumnavigation on August 15th in 7 hours 31 minutes to break the record by 1 day.  For his eclectic interest in conquering challenges from tall mountains to tough channels, for taking on and breaking a record of an elite swimmer less than half his age, for flawlessly pulling off his 34-day plan en route to living a purpose-driven life, Professor Patrick McKnight's Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

13. Spyridon Gianniotis (Greece) Olympic 10K Marathon Swim
Spyridon Gianniotis participated in five consecutive Olympic Games: Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London and Rio.  Four times, the 36-year-old Greek distance freestyler qualified for the finals, finishing fourth in 2004 and 2012, but he never quite made it onto the podium.  He kept on training and always envisioned an Olympic medal hanging around his neck.  Long, lonely, grueling workouts led him to win 7 medals at the World Championships, but the Olympic medal eluded him until he swam the race of his life in Copacabana Beach.  As he reeled in the leader, willing the chase pack forward with every fiber in his body, he sprinted to the finish as the oldest man in the field.  For never giving up on his dreams, for working hard every day and wholeheartedly committing to his goals, for giving hope to other Greek swimmers and being their inspirational leader for decades, Spyridon Gianniotis' Olympic 10K Marathon Swim is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

14. Isla Malvinas/Falkland Islands Challenge by Matías Ola (Argentina) and Jackie Cobell (Great Britain)
Matías Ola and Jackie Cobell have swum some of the toughest, coldest swims in history.  But in a tandem swim of peace and friendship between West Falkland and East Falkland in the Islas Malvinas (Falkland Islands), they required the ultimate in political planning and logistical operations.  As part of the Unir el Mundo project, they pull off a successful crossing of the Strait of San Carlos in 2 hours 37 minutes in 6ºC water between the two main islands of the Falkland Islands. For envisioning and completing their joint swim for harmony 33 years after the end of the war between their two respective nations, for competing a dramatically unprecedented expedition between two islands far from the South American mainland, for being personable and friendly ambassadors of the sport and their respective nations, the Falkland Challenge is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

15. Stephanie Hopson (USA) English Channel Crossing
Stephanie Hopson was on track to complete a crossing of the English Channel.  But halfway across, disaster struck 11 hours out from shore.  The propeller of her escort boat got tangled in a crab pot and its dangling ropes. The 39-year-old continued to swim in the pitch darkness before her crew aborted her swim.  Despite her dreams being dashed by the unexpected, her escort pilot Mike Oram gave her a second chance five days after being pulled from the Channel.  Her crews on both her first and second attempts encouraged her to give it a go; she was up to the challenge, both mentally and physically prepared for another opportunity.  For ultimately completing the fourth longest English Channel crossing in history, for dreaming big and believing in herself to become a Channel Swimmer, for courageously taking 24 hours 31 minutes to cross the English Channel, Stephanie Hopson's English Channel Crossing is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

16. Carol Schumacher Hayden (USA) Catalina Channel Crossing
Carol Schumacher Hayden had to overcome more than usual to set the overall age record across any of the Channel Islands in California.  At the age of 66, she crossed the 20.2-mile Catalina Channel in 15 hours 2 minutes.  But age was not the greatest obstacle for the veteran ocean swimmer.  An unexpected injury derailed her attempt for a year.  Due to a concussion, she had to deal with its effects during her training.  Her headaches and vertigo as well as her memory loss and fatigue were made more intense by training in cold water. But she found the will and the way deep inside herself to power on despite the uncertainty of her health or readiness.  For landing spot on at her intended location on the California mainland, for swimming as well as can be after dealing with a long rehabilitation period, for becoming one of the oldest channel swimmers in history, Carol Schumacher Hayden's Catalina Channel Crossing is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

17. Vasilly Mosin (Russia) Winter Swimming
Vasilly Mosin was born to be a swimmer.  He is disciplined and chiseled, broad shoulders tapering down to a slender waist.  He is a gentle giant of outdoor swimming pools chiseled out of frozen lakes.  He transformed an early retirement in warm-water pools to a powerful streak of sprinting championships at the Winter Swimming World Championships.  His flat-out speed in near 0°C water temperatures and frigid conditions is nearly overshadowed by his discussions of global friendship and mutual respect across borders and cultures.  For his sincere encouragement of all ice swimmers of all ages and abilities, for his blazing speed as the world's fastest cold water swimmer, for his deeply felt sense of friendship and solidarity with those who love the water and the ice, Vasilly Mosin's ice swimming sprints are a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.


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2016 WOWSA Offering of the Year Nominees

2016 WOWSA Open Water Swimming
Offering of the Year

  1. Prison Island Swims (international)
  3. Samsung Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim (Turkey)
  4. Ocean City Swim Club Unified Team / Legion of Ocean Heroes Surf Lifesaving Festival (USA)
  5. KAATSU Aqua (Japan)
  6. Hawaiʻi Tiger Shark Tracking (USA)
  7. OceanFit (Australia)
  8. The Power of Swimming or Simma med Stjärnorna (Sweden)
  9. Wildswim.com (United Kingdom)
  10. Instabeat (International)
  11. Terroir Project Collection (Denmark)
  12. Agar Plasticity (Japan)
  13. Swimming in the Sink: An Episode of the Heart by Lynne Cox (USA)
  14. Global Alert Platform by the Ocean Recovery Alliance (international)
  15. Blue Mind Summits by Dr. Wallace J. Nichols (international)

1. Prison Island Swims (international)
Very few swims grab the imagination more that escaping from a Prison Island.  The Triple Break, a bucket list coined by Ned Denison, has taken off with the help and enthusiastic embracing of Jacques Tuset who has completed 21 breaks around the world.  With their encouragement and promotion, other swimmers can now identify, organize and attempt aquatic escapes from former and current (!) prison islands to nearby shorelines.  What started off with Alcatraz Island, Spike Island and Robben Island has now expanded to over 30 dramatically exotic Breaks around the world.  For completely transforming prison islands with horrific histories to beautiful locations for enjoyable solo swimming challenges, for identifying and promoting many more places around the world to attempt extreme swims of relatively short distances, for opening up swimmer's creativity in viewing previously unavailable channel swimming opportunities, the concept of Prison Island Swims is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

KIM SWIMS is much more and much deeper than its film title suggests.  The documentary, directed by Kate Webber and co-produced with David Orr, celebrates the depth of both the human spirit and its relation to water as embodied by Kimberley Chambers, one of the few people who have completed the Oceans Seven.  Trained as a classical ballerina, Chambers was transformed into a swimmer after barely escaping the amputation of her leg due to an accident.  Told through Chambers' completely improbable, mind-boggling and astonishing path to becoming one of the world's most adventurous and accomplished open water swimmers, KIM SWIMS received Phase 1 funding on Kickstarter and is running Phase 2 on the Seed & Spark movie crowd-funding platform to bring the film to life. For the tear-inducing, inspirational message that the documentary delivers, for showcasing the unlikely transformation of a ballerina to a risk-taking channel swimmer, for delving deep inside the sport of open water swimming, KIM SWIMS is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

3. Samsung Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim (Turkey)
Swimming between continents is something that few people in the world rarely have an opportunity to do. But the Samsung Bosphorus Cross Continental Swim is excellently organized to offer this dramatic possibility to thousands of people every year.  The National Olympic Committee of Turkey has grown the 6.5 km point-to-point traverse of the Istanbul Strait from 68 swimmers in 1989 to nearly 5,000 applicants from 52 countries from all walks of life.  Boat traffic in the strait is stopped once per year on this day when people challenge themselves against shifting currents and tidal flows with logistics and a wide safety net at their protection.  For providing the self-satisfaction and challenge of a cross-continental swim from the Asian continent to the European continents to 2,200 swimmers, for organizing an aquatic challenge across a dynamic body of water in an iconic location, and for the joyful multi-cultural, multi-lingual ambiance of swimmers from around the world, the Samsung Boğaziçi Kıtalararası Yüzme Yarışı is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

4. Ocean City Swim Club Unified Team / Legion of Ocean Heroes Surf Lifesaving Festival (USA)
Bruckner and Michelle Chase along with Ocean Positive, Bacharach Rehabilitation Hospital, ABC Medical and the City of Upper Township enable a diverse community of athletes to unite in discovering a personal connection to the ocean. The boldly innovative program in New Jersey creates transformative evidence-based ocean engagement experiences to positively impact the fitness, well-being and quality of life.  For those unwilling to accept just being an observer on shore, the program brings together ocean lifeguards, triathletes and swimmers of all ages and abilities to help those with spinal cord injuries learn how to train and race through swimming and surf lifesaving-inspired sports.  Through the Legion of Ocean Heroes Surf Lifesaving Festival, able-bodied and challenged athletes compete side-by-side as paddlers and swimmers. Spinal cord injured athletes leave their wheelchairs behind to explore their potential as ocean athletes while members of the community learn the value in training together. For their vision to unite communities by linking them to the open water, for their innovative use of the water to overcome isolation, for their belief in the strength, passion and vision that can positively impact our world, the Ocean City Swim Club Unified Team / Legion of Ocean Heroes Surf Lifesaving Festivals are a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

5. KAATSU Aqua (Japan)
Olympic marathon swimmers use it and those rehabilitating from knee surgeries use it.  Enhancing micro-circulation and vein elasticity have become big topics in the professional sports leagues like the NFL and NBA and among Olympians both for enhanced athletic performance and rapid rehabilitation, but innovations rarely sprout from the aquatic world.  The blood flow moderation modality can be used by dryland athletes undergoing aqua-therapy or by swimmers of any age and any walk of life who are trying to improve their swimming speed, strength and stamina.  For its ingenuity in eliciting rapid recovery from injury or competition, for its safety and efficacy in enhancing aquatic performance, for its reach to help both fitness swimmers and Olympic champions, KAATSU Aqua is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

6. Hawaiʻi Tiger Shark Tracking (USA)
Sharks have always been one of the most feared aspects of ocean swimming.  But, in fact, relatively few open water swimmers have experienced shark encounters in the ocean and even fewer have been attacked by sharks.  But with a spike in the number of shark encounters in Maui, government officials and researchers endeavored to track tiger sharks and learn more about their movements and habitats.  After a two-period period of tagging with satellite and acoustic tags and tracking these large sharks off Hawaii coastal waters, the data was offered online to the general public.  For its efforts in educating the public about the presence of sharks near ocean recreational areas, for its offering of objective data and research findings about sharks to the scientific community, for its fascinating online animation of shark movements, the Hawaiʻi Tiger Shark Tracking system is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

7. OceanFit (Australia)
OceanFit combines the best of the sport: enjoying the ocean and fitness in an easy-to-navigate, easy-to-understand, easy-to-appreciate offering of ocean swimming events, training and education.  The Bondi Beach service provider from Sydney helps swimmers of all ages and abilities become comfortable and safe in the ocean by clinics, lessons and online content.  Conveniently packaged information is offered online and in person by founder Andre Slade to hundreds of ocean goers.  More importantly, OceanFit has sent over $430,000 in fundraising revenue to the surf life saving clubs for organizing the events that, in turn, is used for saving lives on beaches in Australia. For its comprehensive ocean event calendar with helpful tips, for its useful newsletters and fun-loving ocean swim squads, for its detailed descriptions, videos and photos that showcase and financially support ocean swims all over Australia, OceanFit is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

8. The Power of Swimming or Simma med Stjärnorna (Sweden)
The Power of Swimming or “Swimming with the Stars" by the Swedish Swimming Federation and E. ON is a virtual reality project that helps hydrophobic children learn to swim.  As virtual reality is a very powerful, experiential and inspirational tool easily accepted by the youngest generations, this project begins to reduce the sobering fact that 20% of Swedish children cannot swim - despite living in a land of lakes surrounded by the sea. Through a 360-degree below-the-surface experience, children begin to overcome their fear of water and take a virtual plunge with members of the Swedish swim team.  For inspiring children to take their first strokes, for helping those who fear the water to take the plunge, for inviting viewers to order free virtual reality goggles to use at home and find their nearest local swimming association, The Power of Swimming is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

9. Wildswim.com (United Kingdom)
Wildswim.com is an interactive worldwide crowd-sourced swim map that provides information about open water swimming around the world. Wildswim.com defines different kinds of collections in seas, lakes, rivers, lidos, tidal pools, estuaries, and hot springs, and lists opportunities for wild swimming as dips, swims, journeys, crossings, endurance, jumping, exploring, skinny dipping, and family-friendly swims in myriad locations and waterways.  First created by Kate Rew and Jonathan Joyce, the user-friendly, sublimely shareable, extraordinarily useful global swim map is supported by The Outdoor Swimming Society and enables users to input, share and add information, photos and safety information.  For its supreme ease-of-usefulness, for its practicality in introducing new locations for swimmers around the world, for its celebration and promotion of wild swimming, Wildswim.com is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

10. Instabeat (International)
Instabeat is the first all-in-one heart rate monitor with real-time feedback that seamlessly attaches to swimming goggles.  Pool and open water swimmers can enjoy and educate themselves by use of a cardiac ECG-level heart rate target zone monitor that attaches to their goggles.  Waterproof, insightful, educational, and potentially, life-saving, the heart rate monitor is located on the most convenient place possible for a swimmer.  For its creativity and ingenuity, for its waterproof non-intrusiveness, for its very real potential for saving lives by alerting swimmers and their coaches and crew members while in training, during solo crossings, and in races about their heart rate, the Instabeat is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

11. Terroir Project Collection (Denmark)
Planet Earth is 70% ocean and there is a seemingly endless amount of common brown algae that washes up along shorelines around the world. Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts graduate students Jonas Edvard and Nikolaj Steenfatt developed a means to transform fucus seaweed from the Danish coast and create chairs and design lamps that allow for maximum strength and minimum weight.  Their methodology of drying and grinding the seaweed, cooking into a glue, and then combining with paper led to a sustainable material that is malleable, durable and colorful enough to use as furniture and home products.  For their innovative utilization of biodegradable seaweed for household use, for their clever discovery and testing of a suitable production process, for their beautiful design of shapes, surfaces and silhouettes that shows what the ocean can provide, the Terroir Project Collection is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

12. Agar Plasticity (Japan)
Team Agar, led by Japanese designers Kosuke Araki, Noriaki Maetani and Akira Muraoka, created Agar Plasticity that explores using agar, a substance derived from marine algae in consumer packaging. With the planet's oceans gradually filling up with non-biodegradable products unused and discarded by humanity the world over, a crisis is looming that out-of-the-box thinkers and tinkers are focusing on coming up with innovative solutions to help improve and maintain Mother Nature.  For their bold and ambitious experiment that addresses one of the biggest pollution problems of modern time, for their production of earth-friendly drinking vessels made from marine algae, for winning the grand prize at the Lexus Design Awards global competition, the Agar Plasticity project is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

13. Swimming in the Sink: An Episode of the Heart by Lynne Cox (USA)
Lynne Cox's voice has echoed across the waterways since she authored her first book, Swimming to Antarctica, in 2004. After setting channel records in her teens, engaging in international diplomacy with her unprecedented Bering Strait swim in 1987, and completing more than 60 extraordinary swims around the world, Cox cemented her legacy with a series of books, delving into a number of profound topics. Swimming in the Sink: An Episode of the Heart is arguably her most touching and surprising book, intertwining her strength of character and renown athleticism with human frailties that come from illness and grief. For writing about subjects that everyone can relate to, for showing a different side of her strengths and weaknesses, for writing so eloquently from her most generous heart, Swimming in the Sink: An Episode of the Heart is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

14. Global Alert Platform by the Ocean Recovery Alliance (Hong Kong)
Doug Woodring found himself surrounded by discarded plastics and rubbish while diving in a remote marine protected area. He was struck by the need to improve the world's ocean for future generations. He created the NGO, Ocean Recovery Alliance, and recently launched the Global Alert Platform, an innovative, online tool that allows people to report, rate and map plastic pollution levels in their local watersheds or coastlines via their mobile devices and computers. For creating a platform and database to help broaden public awareness about the plastic crises anywhere in the world that negatively affects the health of our waters, for managing a global flow of information that can spur solutions to reduce plastic pollution in the ocean, rivers and lakes, for enabling people to report problems and generate data on trash-hotspots via an easy-to-use mobile monitoring tool and online maps, the Global Alert Platform is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

15. Blue Mind Summits by Dr. Wallace J. Nichols (international)
Wallace J. Nichols, Ph.D. created a new field called neuroconservation where he has tied together neuroscience, psychology, nature, art, conservation, poetry, and activities in, around and under the water. With healthful benefits and positive outcomes extending to public health, education, parenting, business, coastal planning, travel, real estate, sports and recreation, the Blue Mind Summits are fascinating, informative meetings attended by scientists, ocean advocates, artists and open water swimmers. Collaborators participate in the Blue Mind Summits to introduce and discuss concrete solutions that help change the way people think, feel and act towards water. For his establishment of a science and practice that restores and rebuilds mankind's personal, ancient and emotional connection with healthy waterways, for his melding of myriad areas in science, art and sport to support the Blue Mind Life, for his organization and inspiration of like-minded people in the field of neuroconservation who understand the profound benefits of interacting with water, Dr. Wallace J. Nichols' Blue Mind Summit is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.


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