Cutoff Date and Time for Voting was January 1, 2018 at 12:00 am (California time) and the results were announced on the Daily News of Open Water Swimming in the following articles:
• Antonio Argüelles Wins 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man Of The Year Award
• Jaimie Monahan Wins 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman Of The Year Award
• Margarita Llorens Bagur Wins 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year
• Sea Donkey, 2017 World Open Water Offering of the Year
The nominees were presented in the following four categories:
2017 WOWSA Open Water Swimming
Man of the Year Nominees
- Evgenij Pop Acev (Macedonia)
- Antonio Argüelles (Mexico)
- John Batchelder (USA)
- Guillermo Bertola (Argentina)
- Avram Iancu (Romania)
- Stéphane Lecat (France)
- Dr. Lucky Meisenheimer (USA)
- Lynton Mortensen (Australia)
- Simone Ruffini (Italy)
- Petar Stoychev (Bulgaria)
- Sayed Ihsan Taheri (Afghanistan)
- Ferry Weertman (Netherlands)
- Philip Yorke (Great Britain)
1. Evgenij Pop Acev (Macedonia)
Evgenij Pop Acev travels the world representing Macedonia, not exactly considered a swimming hotbed. But the 29-year-old puts his mind in the right spot and attacks professional marathon swims and international competitions around the world. This year, he won the overall title for the second time in his career, tying with Guillermo Bertola in the closest battle in FINA history. He finished 3rd in the 57 km Maratón Acuática Internacional Santa Fe – Coronda, finished 4th in the 16 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli, finished 3rd in the 32 km Traversée international du lac St-Jean, and finished 2nd in the 33 km Ohrid Lake Swimming Marathon. For representing his country well as a personable, seriously-minded ambassador on the international swimming scene, for training hard and serving as an inspiration in Macedonia, and for winning his second career title on the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix circuit, Evgenij Pop Acev is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
2. Antonio Argüelles (Mexico)
Antonio Argüelles achieved the Oceans Seven at the age of 58 – 20 years older than the average age of the other swimmers who have accomplished the same feat. His final two swims, celebrated throughout his native Mexico and respected in the channel swimming world, were tough: a 11 hour 20 minute 23 km crossing of the Cook Strait in New Zealand and a 13 hour 32 minute 35 km crossing of the North Channel between Ireland and Scotland. He trained hard for both, traveling frequently to San Francisco from Mexico City to acclimate to cold water. Speaking, writing and swimming, the entrepreneur shares his indomitable spirit with all those who he meets on his global journeys. For his inspirational life and words of encouragement that he constantly shares, for literally never giving up and achieving a goal that culminates his vast endurance sports resume, for expressing a palpable joy in the water via photos, videos and speeches, Antonio Argüelles is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
3. John Batchelder (USA)
John Batchelder set the bar so high, it is almost inconceivable that any man will have the patience, passion and planning to replicate the totality of his butterfly open water achievements within one calendar year. The 36-year-old took on 19 open water races and channel swims - all butterfly - in addition to doing 3 marathon swims freestyle this year. His butterfly swims include a 38.6 km swim in Tampa, a 45.8 km swim in New York, a 30 km swim in Pittsburgh, a 19.3 km swim in Charleston, a 57.9 km swim in North Dakota, a 15.2 km swim in Arizona, a 17.7 km swim in Portland, and a Catalina Channel attempt. He knocks off these brutally tough all-butterfly swims with a calm demeanor and steely determination. He does all this swimming while balancing a busy corporate life and constant travel from coast to coast in the United States. For his indomitable spirit in the face of rough conditions, for his personal ambition to redefine toughness, for his understated joy while tackling channels, seas, rivers and lakes over 347 km in distance, John Batchelder is a worthy nominee for the 2015 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
4. Guillermo Bertola (Argentina)
Guillermo Bertola looks like an athlete with a hardened body and steely gaze. While he has been competing on the professional marathon swimming circuits for years, he has never risen to the top…until this year. The 27-year-old puts his mind in the right spot and aggressively attacks his training and professional marathon races around the world. This year, he won the overall title for the first time in his career, tying with Evgenij Pop Acev in the closest battle in FINA history. He won the 32 km Traversée international du lac St-Jean in Canada and finished 3rd in the 16 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli in Italy and the 33 km Ohrid Lake Swimming Marathon in Macedonia. He also competed in the FINA 10K World Cup circuit from Argentina to the UAE and competed in the 5 km team, 10 km and 25 km races at the 2017 FINA World Championships. For representing his country extraordinarily well as a personable, seriously-minded ambassador on the international swimming scene, for training hard and serving as an inspiration among young Argentine swimmers, and for winning his first career title on the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix circuit, Guillermo Bertola is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
5. Avram Iancu (Romania)
Avram Iancu wanted to do something very special – he wanted to swim 2,860 km across 10 European nations along the entire Danube River and four capital cities. He not only pushed himself longer than he ever imagined over the course of 89 days, but he also faced and overcame rougher and colder conditions than he ever thought possible. More importantly, he touched thousands of people in his humble manner who were inspired by his engaging personality, his humble manner, his visible strength of character, and the sheer physicality of his feat. The 41-year-old librarian graciously met local politicians and students; he spoke with celebrities and environmentalists; he swam with local people. For his 3-month promotion and celebration of the sport, for his minimalistic approach to stage swimming as he lived off the land without a large entourage or crew, for his personable approach to serving as a swimming ambassador throughout 11 European countries, Avram Iancu is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
6. Stéphane Lecat (France)
Stéphane Lecat was an outstanding professional marathon swimmer. He is replicating the athletic success he enjoyed in the water on dryland as the Directeur de L’Eau libre for the Fédération Française de Natation. As the French national team open water swimming program director, the 46-year-old is taking French swimming to unprecedented levels. Mirroring the efficiency of his powerful stroke, Lecat very effectively oversees the administration, development and organization of 35+ competitions in France and helping France’s best swimmers dominate the podium positions in international competitions. For laying the foundation for France’s 4 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze medals at the 2017 FINA World Championships, for mentoring the next generation of elite French swimmers and coaches at international junior competitions, for continuing an unparalleled level of excellence as an administrator for the sport, Stéphane Lecat is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
7. Dr. Lucky Meisenheimer (USA)
Dr. Lucky Meisenheimer walks out of his home to one of the most social, sincerely welcoming open water swimming clubs in the world. Lake Cane in Orlando, Florida has been home to tens of thousands of visitors and local swimmers who swim the famed 1 km circular venue whether they are training for the English Channel or just a way to stay young and fit. Dr. Meisenheimer has created an open water swimming nirvana through his passion for the sport, relentless flow of information, and his own engaging personality. From Olympians and celebrities to octogenarians and newcomers, the personable skin cancer surgeon opens his aquatic paradise to all-comers. For over 3 decades, he has hosted multiple competitions including Lucky’s Lake Swim, an official Historic Event of Central Florida, and created The Lake Cane Restoration Society, a non-profit organization to promote restoration of Florida waterways. Across generations, he has cheerfully inspired many of all ages and walks of life to take up open water swimming and achieve personal challenges. For his creativity of organizing an ideal ambiance for swimming in central Florida, for his hospitality in welcoming a vast number of swimmers to his backyard lake, for continuously promoting open water swimming, Dr. Lucky Meisenheimer is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
8. Lynton Mortensen (Australia)
Lynton Mortensen is a man for all seasons. He completed 4 Oceans Seven channel swims over the last calendar year and achieved the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming within 3 months. The 53-year-old Australian completed crossings of the Strait of Gibraltar, Rottnest Channel (twice), English Channel, North Channel, 20 Bridges Manhattan Island Swim, Catalina Channel and made an attempt of the Bristol Channel as part of Original Triple Crown in England. His English and North Channel crossings were 17 days apart; the fastest back-to-back turnaround for the two swims. On each of the swims he escorted the Roll of Honour (Afghanistan) Carrying 41, laying 41 poppies at the start and end of each swim as a tribute to those individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice and to bring create dialogue and support in addressing veteran suicide and PTSD of returned soldiers. For doing all these swims with an exuberance that brought smiles to people around the world, while raising money for his charity, the Children’s Hospital Foundation, to help ill children in need and their families, for being an everyday hero in completing these swims, Lynton Mortensen is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
9. Simone Ruffini (Italy)
Simone Ruffini is extremely competitive with world-class speed in whatever conditions he finds himself in the open water. Line him up against any swimmers in any conditions in any location and Ruffini will always be a threat to win. He faced a season-long rivalry with Italian teammate Federico Vanelli that was the closest in FINA World Cup history. Separately by seconds at most and swimming shoulder-to-shoulder in 7 races in Argentina, the UAE, Portugal, Canada, China and Hong Kong, Ruffini won the 2017 FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup circuit against the fastest open water swimmers in the world. At the 2017 FINA World Championships, he placed 4th in the 25 km, only 6.7 seconds out of gold, and 7th in the 10 km, only 9.2 seconds out of gold. For being consistently competitive, for maintaining his composure under all conditions and in all situations, for continuing to be a personable ambassador of the sport in his native Italy and across the continents of the world, Simone Ruffini is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
10. Petar Stoychev (Bulgaria)
Petar Stoychev is unique among all the world’s open water swimmers. He has been a 4-time Olympian in the pool and open water, a national administrator in his native Bulgaria, an influential FINA Committee representative, and an English Channel record holder who has won an unprecedented number of FINA professional marathon races. But this year, he dramatically added ice swimming to his record of success. He completely dominated the 2017 World Ice Swimming Championships, setting the bar at the 1 km level. Just like in the English Channel and venues like lac St-Jean, the 41-year-old studied the requirements and rules of ice swimming and quickly – but not unexpectedly – became a world champion. For his willingness to attempt a new aquatic discipline, for adding another world championship to his unprecedented record of success, for helping to elevate the speed, global awareness and expectations of the ice swimming world, Petar Stoychev is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
11. Sayed Ihsan Taheri (Afghanistan)
Sayed Ihsan Taheri from Kabul has been working on behalf of his fellow Afghans all his life. He currently goal is a challenge, both athletically and financially as well as culturally and operationally. As the president of the Afghanistan Swimming Federation and an official of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, he faces against significant obstacles, but the walls of resistance have not stopped him. On the international front, he serves as a member of the FINA Media Committee. On the domestic front, the 33-year-old is developing a domestic and international swimming program for girls and women in Afghanistan. He has reached out to potential benefactors, expatriate Afghans, and supporters locally and internationally. For his vision to create a domestic and international swimming program for girls and women in Afghanistan, for his relentless efforts to bring in benefactors to kickstart, enable and support his vision, for the myriad opportunities that will arise due to his efforts and encouragement including taking the first Afghan swimmers to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Sayed Ihsan Taheri is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
12. Ferry Weertman (Netherlands)
Ferry Weertman defended his 2016 Olympic 10K Marathon Swimming gold medal with a dramatic, close victory at the 2017 FINA World Championships in Hungary. These back-to-back performances demonstrated the intensity and passion that the 25-year-old Dutchman has for swimming. He has both speed and stamina in abundance based on a massive amount of training mileage in the pool and open water. He not only has the drive to realize his athletic dreams, but he also has the personality to represent the sport in a responsible manner befitting modern-day heroes. With a giant target on his back, Weertman won the 10 km world championship by 0.1 seconds with another ferocious sprint to the finish. For his competitive spirit and composure under pressure in the highest levels of competition, for continuing to win despite swimming with a giant target on his back, for his genuinely engaging personality in casually addressing questions from the media and fans, Ferry Weertman is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
13. Philip Yorke (Great Britain)
Philip Yorke quietly and consistently plays a major role in continuing the key foundation that the British Long Distance Swimming Association has played in the sport for decades. As Honorable General Secretary of the esteemed organization, he carries on the traditions that have served the sport well. Additionally, he completed a 15 hour 52 minute crossing – all breaststroke – of the Catalina Channel while serving as the Championship Secretary for the Lynn Tegid (Bala) events. For his selfless dedication in maintaining the legitimacy and traditions of the sport, for working tirelessly as a volunteer to manage and set the direction of the British Long Distance Swimming Association, and for his record-setting breaststroke crossing of the Catalina Channel, Philip Yorke is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
2017 WOWSA Open Water Swimming
Woman of the Year Nominees
- Katherine Batts (Great Britain)
- Dr. Caroline Block (USA)
- Arianna Bridi (Italy)
- Chloë McCardel (Australia)
- Ana Marcela Cunha (Brazil)
- Pat Gallant-Charette (USA)
- Ludmila Maller (Russia)
- Jaimie Monahan (USA)
- Aurélie Muller (France)
- Barbara Pozzobón (Italy)
- Sarah Thomas (USA)
- Julia Wittig (Germany)
1. Katherine Batts (Great Britain)
Katherine Batts has long supported channel swimmers as a fellow relay member, an administrator with the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation, and a coach with The King's Swimmers. With her 18th career English Channel relay completed in 2017 (on the oldest Ladies team), decades of service to help others achieve their channel swimming dreams (first with the Channel Swimming Association and now with the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation), completed a swim across Lake Tahoe on the latest crossing in history, and as a coach mentoring others on the physical, mental and logistical side of the channel equation, Batts declined numerous invitations since the 1970’s to attempt a solo Channel swim. With her children grown and out of the house, the lifesaving professional was finally able to focus on herself and achieved the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming in 2017. For her four decades of selfless service to benefit and help other swimmers, for her kind, patient demeanor to support others in their dreams, and for her late-season Lake Tahoe crossing and Catalina Channel crossing that enabled her to become a Triple Crowner, Katherine Batts is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
2. Dr. Caroline Block (USA)
Dr. Caroline Block is an American marathon swimmer who attempted to push the boundaries to the extreme in 2017. An anthropologist on dry land, she takes things to a whole new level in the open water. In addition to participating in the U.S. Winter Swimming Association National Championship early in 2017, she set a new woman’s course record swimming the 52 km length of Lake George in New York in 19 hours 21 minutes and then embarked on a legendary attempt – a two-way crossing of the bitterly cold, jellyfish-strewn North Channel between Northern Ireland and Scotland. While the best of the best and the most hardened open water swimmers in the world have completed a total of 57 one-way crossings in history, Block followed up on her 2016 North Channel single by attempting the first two-way crossing this August. For swimming 88 km in 12°C water over 28 hours 55 minutes before running into impassable tides, for attempting the most difficult two-way channel crossing in the world, for not relenting until running headlong into insurmountable tides on her return leg, Dr. Caroline Block is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
3. Arianna Bridi (Italy)
Arianna Bridi enjoyed a breakout year in 2017 as she won her first career FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup title. Finishing consistently high (1st in the Patagones-Viedma race in Argentina, 3rd in the Abu Dhabi race in UAE, 4th in the Setúbal Bay race in Portugal, 3rd in lac Mégantic race in Canada, 1st in the Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean in Canada, and 1st in the Hong Kong race), she was a force in every race she swam. She tied for 3rd in the 10 km race and finished 3rd in the 25 km at the FINA World Championships in Hungary. For winning the FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup title, for consistently achieving podium positions on the World Cup circuit and the FINA World Championships, for training at a consistently high level to remain among the world’s fastest swimmers, Arianna Bridi is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
4. Chloë McCardel (Australia)
Chloë McCardel attempted the unthinkable – a solo, non-stop four-way crossing of the English Channel. While she made back and forth in 20 hours 34 minutes, she stopped on her third crossing after completing her 23rd career crossing between England and France. Even though she did not achieve her goal on her first attempt, the dream was established and time will tell if she can reach it. But the 32-year-old is one of the very few athletes in the world with the proper mindset and commitment to realistically train for and attempt the unprecedented crossing. For her forward momentum in going after the most hallowed records in the English Channel with 11 successes over the last 2 seasons, for continuing to coach charity relays across the Channel and inspire others in speeches, for serving as a personable ambassador of the sport that places her among its most legendary athletes, Chloë McCardel is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
5. Ana Marcela Cunha (Brazil)
Ana Marcela Cunha is flat-out fast and non-stop: traveling, competing and medaling around the world. She finished 12th in the FINA World Cup race in the UAE, 5th in the FINA World Cup race in Argentina, 5th in the FINA World Cup race in Portugal, 2nd in the FINA World Cup race in Canada, 1st in the FINA World Cup race in lac Mégantic, Canada, 1st in FINA World Cup race in China, 1st in the Campeonato Brasileiro de Aguas Abertas Brasilia, 1st in the 36 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli in Italy. Additionally, she earned three podium positions at the 2017 FINA World Championships in Hungary and finished 6th in the team race to bring her career total to 9 world championship medals. For winning gold in the 25 km race and bronze in the 5 km and 10 km races in the world championships, for coming back from having her spleen removed in an early-season surgery to finish second overall in the 2017 FINA/HOSA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup circuit, for her constant smile and affable spirit despite long flights, tough conditions and blistering fast races, Ana Marcela Cunha is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
6. 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.
7. Ludmila Maller (Russia)
Ludmila Maller is hot in a cold community. The Siberian native from Novosibirsk won the 2016-2017 International Winter Swimming Association World Cup woman’s title among the crème-de-la-crème of the world’s best and most hardened winter swimmers. Competing in the 55-59 age group, she barely edged out defending champion Jaimie Monahan 536 to 530 points despite only coming in the Russian Pacific Open Cup in Russia, the Taierzhuang International Winter Swimming Festival in China, and the Pirita Open in Estonia. She dominated the winter swimming scene with victories in the 25m and 50m breaststrokes, 25m butterfly, and 25m, 50m, 100m, 200m freestyles. For her dominating performance on the Winter Swimming World Cup circuit, for her versatility in swimming fast in cold water, for representing her region and country very well in a fast-growing sport, Ludmila Maller is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
8. Jaimie Monahan (USA)
Jaimie Monahan seemed to be everywhere, doing everything, in the open water world in 2017. Her presence was ubiquitous around the globe, from cold to warm temperatures, short to long distances, calm to rough conditions. In addition to doing six major marathon swims (winning the 40 Bridges Double Manhattan Island 92 km swim with a new course record of 20 hours 12 minutes, pioneering the first recorded 64 km Lago Maggiore crossing in 24 hours 2 minutes, 40 km lac Memphrémagog, 27 km Rose Pitonof Swim, 20 km Mercer Island Marathon Swim and a 4 km Strait of Magellan crossing), the 38-year-old completed the world's first Ice Sevens Challenge under the International Ice Swimming Association – performing Ice Miles under 5°C in Morocco, Norway, Boston, New Zealand, and Argentina in addition to being a top-ranked swimmer on the International Winter Swimming Association World Cup circuit with races in Latvia, Russia, China, and England. For her impressive versatility in competing in ice swims and warm-water marathons, for balancing a full-time job with a non-stop globetrotting swimming itinerary, and for her efforts as a charismatic ambassador for open water swimming in all forms, Jaimie Monahan is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
9. Aurélie Muller (France)
Aurélie Muller resurrected her career after the ultimate disappointment at being disqualified on the last stroke of the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim to lose a medal. Her recovery was tremendous as she won the 10 km FINA World Championship title in Hungary. But that was not all. At the FINA World Championships, the 27-year-old also earned a silver medal in the 5 km, took a gold in the 5 km team event, and finished 8th in the 25 km race. She also won the greatest prize money due to her victory the FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup in Abu Dhabi and finished 3rd in the 57 km Maratón Acuática Internacional Santa Fe – Coronda in Argentina. For becoming the 10 km world champion after her Olympic disappointment viewed on television by millions, for never giving up on herself and swimming so strongly throughout the year from a 1.25 km sprint to a 57 km marathon, for speaking eloquently about the sport and her comeback, Aurélie Muller is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
10. Barbara Pozzobón (Italy)
Barbara Pozzobón swam further faster than anyone else in the marathon swimming world. She won the 57 km Maratón Acuática Internacional Santa Fe – Coronda in Argentina over world champion Aurélie Muller, finished second in the 32 km Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean in Canada, won the 30 km Ohrid Lake Marathon in Macedonia, and finished 4th in the 16 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli in Italy to capture the 2017 FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix title. In addition to winning her first FINA career title, she finished 6th in the World University Games 10 km in Taiwan. For finishing only 37 seconds behind the men’s winner at the Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli, for coming into her own in her breakout year competing very well in all kinds of conditions, for representing her country well in a number of international competitions across four continents, Barbara Pozzobón is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
11. Sarah Thomas (USA)
Sarah Thomas was all over the place in 2017. She warmed up with a 40 km double circumnavigation around Mercer Island in Washington, then won the women’s division at the 17 km Portland Bridge Swim in Oregon, completed an unprecedented 31.7 km crossing of Grand Lake in Oklahoma, and finished 6th overall at the 16 km Swim The Suck in Tennessee. But she did one more swim that was simply mind-boggling and typical of Thomas’ tenacity. In August, she swam further than anyone in human history without currents: 168.3 km (104.6 miles) in 67 hours 16 minutes in Lake Champlain, New York and Vermont. While fatigue was increasing as sleep became necessary after nearly 3 days of non-stop swimming, Thomas finished with a steady stride, wide smile, and fully conversant with her crew and media. Her swim was carefully documented and virtually observed by thousands, inspiring many and ensuring her effort set the standard for ratification. For her continued push to set the bar in marathon swimming, for her pleasant personality and friendly interactions with her escort crew throughout her swims, for her ability to swim further than anyone else on Planet Earth, Sarah Thomas is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year
12. Julia Wittig (Germany)
Julia Wittig has always been a fast swimmer, but the German schoolteacher became the world’s dominant and fastest ice swimmer in the world in 2017. The 38-year-old swims in nearly frozen venues as if sub-0°C air and nearly freezing water temperatures do not matter. She won the 1 km Ice Swimming Aqua Sphere World Championships in Germany’s Lake Wöhrsee in 13 minutes 58 seconds, a time so fast that would have placed her fourth overall in the men’s race. For setting a 1 km world record in 3.9°C water that was ratified by the International Ice Swimming Association, for showing the potential for speed in a dramatic final at the Burghausen venue, for getting second in the 500m world ice swimming championship in a time that would have placed her third overall in the men’s race, Julia Wittig is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
2017 WOWSA Open Water Swimming
Performance of the Year Nominees
- Barbados Open Water Swimming Festival with Kristina Evelyn & Zary Evelyn (Barbados)
- Khitindra Chandra Baishya (Bangladesh)
- Sven Eckardt (Germany)
- India National Open Long Distance Swimming ChampionshipEscort Rowers (India)
- Margarita Llorens Bagur (Spain)
- Igor Lukin (Russia)
- Madswimmer by Jean Craven (South Africa)
- Marc-Antoine Olivier (France)
- Stephen Rouch (USA)
- Jason Snell (UK)
- Christof Wandratsch (Germany)
- Wild Swimming Brothers (Great Britain)
1. Barbados Open Water Swimming Festival with Kristina Evelyn & Zary Evelyn
Kristina Evelyn and Zary Evelyn have delivered Barbados to the international open water swimming community. Through Kristina’s ubiquitous, omnipresent social media promotions, through their hosting of Olympians and well-known personalities at the Barbados Open Water Swimming Festival, and through their combined efforts to establish and welcome swimmers and influence-makers around the world, Evelyn has created the ambiance and footprint of Barbados that is only shared among much more established and older events. The husband-and-wife team recruits their children, parents, cousins, and various friends to put on an outstanding event as they expertly stretch an extremely limited budget while serving as hosts to swimmers from dozens of countries. For their constant promotional and organizational efforts that put Barbados on the open water swimming map, for their creative marketing programs and initiatives that played off of the natural beauty of Barbados, for their relentlessly positive, year-round, comprehensive approach to organizing the multi-event Barbados Open Water Swimming Festival, Kristina Evelyn and Zary Evelyn’s efforts at the Barbados Open Water Swimming Festival is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
2. Khitindra Chandra Baishya (Bangladesh)
Khitindra Chandra Baishya is not well-known among the English Channel swimming crowd or elite FINA professional marathon competitors, but his solo marathon swim of 146 km down the Kangha River in Bangladesh took him an agonizing 43 hours 25 minutes. His swim was both massively impressive and profoundly simple, especially considered he swam without goggles and well-equipped escort boats. For coming back out of retirement and completing his farewell swim in his native land at the age of 66, for organizing a solo, non-stop marathon swim observed by government officials, media representatives and sports personalities, for pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the open water, Khitindra Chandra Baishya’s marathon swim is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
3. Sven Eckardt (Germany)
Sven Eckardt, known as Dr. Svimmm in his native Germany, is a paraplegic with cerebral paralysis who loves swimming. The 47-year-old hotel consultant with a doctorate in engineering crossed widthwise across Lake Constance (Bodenseequerung), the largest lake in Germany, despite having paralyzed legs. For his 5 hour 33 minute crossing that was the first crossing of the Bodensee by a handicapped swimmer, for his palpable joy in achieving his lifelong dream to complete a marathon swim, for working to encourage other disabled people to set their own goals and realize their dreams, Sven Eckardt’s Bodensee crossing is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
4. India National Open Long Distance Swimming Championship Escort Rowers(India)
The escort rowers for solo swimmers in the annual 81 km India National Open Long Distance Swimming Championship perform other worldly feats that are unprecedented in the annals of known open water swimming history. They begin paddling days before one of the world’s longest marathon swims from their homes, sleeping where and when they can. Then they escort swimmers for at least 10 hours in the downstream races of the Ganges in India. After the race, they continue paddling back home for a very minimal amount of compensation. For their selfless dedication to the sport of marathon swimming, for their annual multi-day pilgrimage to and from the national Indian competition in its 74th year, and for keeping swimmers safe, hydrated and straight for hours on end in blistering hot conditions, the escort rowers at the India National Open Long Distance Swimming Championship are worthy nominees for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
5. Margarita Llorens Bagur (Spain)
Margarita Llorens Bagur has been making several epic attempts in the Balearic Islands archipelago in her native Spain. This year, she made a valiant 37-hour attempt to swim 90 km between Ibiza and Javea in Islas Baleares. The 49-year-old president and inspiration of the Menorca Channel Swimming Association trained with a 42 km 11 hour 54 minute swim along the Costa Brava from Roses to Port Boy and then took on her challenge. She swam and swam and swam for 73 km before difficult conditions and adverse currents led her crew to abort her pioneering attempt. For braving the elements and facing another disappointment with understanding that Mother Nature always has the upper hand in massively long marathon swims, for her admirable persistence in making extremely difficult channel attempts while she continues to help others realize their dreams, for her humble nature in concert with her escort kayaker and husband Francisco Siscu Pons, 'Tita' Llorens Bagur’s 90 km channel attempt is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
6. Igor Lukin (Russia)
Igor Lukin was the overall winner in the 2016-2017 International Winter Swimming Association World Cup. While dominating his 60-64 age group, the Petrozavodsk native dominated the 25m and 30m butterfly, 25m, 30m and 50m breaststroke, 25m, 50m, 60m, 100m, 120m, 200m, and 240m freestyle races in Jelgava’s Roni Open Cup in Latvia, the Russian Pacific Open Cup in Russia, the Big Chill Swim in England, the Taierzhuang International Winter Swimming Festival in China, and the Pirita Open in Estonia. For his dominating performance on the International Winter Swimming World Cup circuit, for his versatility in swimming fast in cold water, for representing his region and country very well in a fast-growing sport, Igor Lukin’s season performance on the International Winter Swimming Association World Cup circuit is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
7. Madswimmer by Jean Craven (South Africa)
Madswimmer has been raising funds for charitable causes throughout its existence, raising a total of over US$700,000. This year, Madswimmer was particularly busy with four unique swims: the 7.9 km Pan-American Colibrí Crossing between California, USA and Tijuana, Mexico in May with 12 swimmers, the 94.7 km Balaeric Island Challenge, a four-day stage swim around the Spanish island of Ibiza in September with 10 swimmers, the 34 km Bazaruto Island Swim in Mozambique in October with 20 swimmers, and the 100 km Great Shark Swim in the fast-moving Agulhas Current from Park Rynie to Port Edward South Africa in December where the fastest 100 km non-stop ocean swim in history will be attempted. Madswimmer founder Jean Craven recruited charitable-minded swimmers from multiple countries to participate in different extreme pioneering swims. For continuing to care for children and their fellow citizens by providing funds and awareness to myriad causes, for designing, organizing and attempting unprecedented swims of unique nature in beautiful locations, for helping push the frontiers of physical and mental boundaries among their swimming contemporaries around the world, Madswimmer’s charity swims are a worthy nominees for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
8. Marc-Antoine Olivier (France)
Marc-Antoine Olivier had the best overall performance among the male open water swimmers at the 2017 FINA World Swimming Championships. The 21-year-old Frenchman kicked off his campaign in Lake Balaton in Hungary with a gold medal performance in the 5 km race, then backed it up with a bronze medal in the 10 km race, finishing only 0.7 seconds behind Olympic gold medalist Ferry Weertman. Then he culminated his week with a blazing fast anchor leg on France’s gold medal winning 5 km team race. His 12:08.7 leg over the 1.25 km course was the fastest split of the relay that France needed to hold off the Americans and Italians. For rising to the occasion among the world’s fastest open water swimmers, for being consistently competitive and medaling in all three of his races with 2 gold and 1 bronze, for continuing podium performances after winning a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Marc-Antoine Olivier’s races at the 2017 FINA Championships is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
9. Stephen Rouch (USA)
Stephen Rouch started his 2017 season extremely strong, finishing first overall in the S.C.A.R. Swim Challenge in Arizona completing the 13.3 km, 14.1 km, 22.8 km and 9 km lake crossings in 16 hours 48 minutes in defending his 2016 title at the 4-day stage swim in Arizona. The 37-year-old software developer then became the fastest man in history to complete all 7 stages of the 193 km 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim in a cumulative time of 35 hours 28 minutes. He also tied for 2nd overall at the Swim The Suck in Tennessee in 3 hours 30 minutes, completed the 14.8 Chattanooga Swim Fest in Tennessee, won the men’s division at the 25 km Border Buster cross-border swim in Quebec/Vermont, completed the 10 km Swim to the Moon in Michigan, and culminated his season setting a new course record in the 30 km Three Rivers Marathon Swim in Pennsylvania with John Humenik. For his year-round focus on training and traveling to marathon swims around the United States, for his 16 successes in his 16 attempts, for his encouragement and support of his fellow swimmers with a core essence of humility and kindness, Stephen Rouch’s year-round marathon performance is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
10. Jason Snell (Great Britain)
Jason Snell completed one of the most unique endurance athletes in the world. Quiet and unassuming, the British mountaineer and channel swimmer from Perth in Western Australia became the eighth person in history to complete the Peak and Pond Challenge - a combination of summiting Mount Everest and crossing the English Channel. At the age of 51, he not only achieved the elusive Peak and Pond, but also completed it in the shortest time period ever: 16 months from climbing Mount Everest to walking up on the shoreline of France after a 16 hour 30 minute crossing of the English Channel. The two sports are not physically complementary, but they both require an extremely tough mindset and demand a high level of commitment. For his flawless strategy in summiting the highest mountain in the world and swimming across the world’s most renowned channel, for realizing his dream to become one of history's very few athletes to achieve Peak and Pond, for maintaining his health, strength and dreams as a 51-year-old, Jason Snell's Peak and Pond Challenge is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
11. Christof Wandratsch (Germany)
Christof Wandratsch has always been a flat-out fast world-class swimmer across channels, in lakes, down rivers, and in seas and oceans, but he is expanding his expertise to ice swimming and event organization. The 51-year-old strategically developed his local area in Bavaria as the showpiece and center of the ice swimming community and teaches ice swimming classes and camps to schoolchildren and adults in Burghausen. He competed in numerous races at the 2017 Ice Swimming Aqua Sphere World Championships and German Open in his native Germany as he also helped organize and promote the rapidly emerging sport in Lake Wöhrsee. He faced the pressure of simultaneously competing, administrating and promoting with his signature professionalism. For winning the 100m medley, 200m breaststroke, and 50m, 200m, 200m, 500m and 1 km freestyles in the 50+ age group, and finishing 3rd overall in the 200m freestyle, 2nd overall in the 500m freestyle, and 3rd overall in the 200m breaststroke, for his cool-headed administration and inspirational ambassadorship in the ice swimming community, and for his non-stop action before, during and after the World Championships, Christof Wandratsch’s year-round work is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
12. Wild Swimming Brothers (Great Britain)
Wild Swimming Brothers - Calum, Jack, and Robbie Hudson - are adventure-seeking adrenaline junkies who pursue aquatic challenges in risk-taking locations. They take a different spin on the sport of open water swimming than hardened bioprene solo channel swimmers or elite competitive swimmers racing in closed flat-water circuits. The Hudson Brothers embody the spirit of wild swimming and enjoying challenging epic swims in various open bodies of water around their native Great Britain and across the globe. They launched a new YouTube channel aimed at wild swimming, both for veterans and newcomers of this exciting, exploding niche. For creating entertaining videos and short stories from their expeditions and tours of their jaw-dropping aquatic journeys, for providing tips and advice on how to get into and enjoy wild swimming, for bringing their extroverted personalities to add color, humor and excitement to wild swimming, the Wild Swimming Brothers’ creativity is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
2017 WOWSA Open Water Swimming
Offering of the Year
- 48 Braçades by Miquel Suñer (Spain)
- Blue Journey Dangerous Waves Project with Bruckner Chase (USA)
- Global Swim Series by Rob Kent & Dylan Kent (Canada)
- LongSwimsDB by Evan Morrison (USA)
- New York Open Water by David Barra, Rondi Davies & Alex Arévalo (USA)
- Open Water Swim Academy by Dan Simonelli (USA)
- Outdoor Swimmer by Simon Griffiths (Great Britain)
- Sea Donkey with Adrian Sarchet (Guernsey)
- Shark Bait by Dr. Seán O’Connell (Bermuda)
- Swim Argentina by Matías Ola (Argentina)
- The Channel of Bones with Toni Enderli (South Africa)
- Travessia do Leme ao Pontal by Adherbal de Oliveira & Renato Ribeiro Barbosa (Brazil)
1. 48 Braçades by Miquel Suñer (Spain)
48 Braçades: Solo tú marcas tu horizonte (48 Swimming Strokes: Only You Set Your Horizons) is a 230-page book written in Spanish and Catalan by Miquel Suñer with James Manresa. After becoming the 53rd person in history to complete the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming, he wrote an extraordinary retelling of his aquatic journey from a backstroker and water polo player to an elite marathon swimmer. The 40-year-old engineer and ambassador of the Costa Brava and Menorca Channel Swimming Association describes his perspectives of swimming in the sea under challenging conditions and his frank intimate connection with Mother Nature. For explaining how swimming is his form of meditation, for a brilliant recount of his daily struggles and how he deals with fear and failure, for sharing how he maintains his deeply felt motivation despite facing obstacles and difficulties both on dryland and in the water, 48 Braçades: Solo tú marcas tu horizonte is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
2. Blue Journey Dangerous Waves Project with Bruckner Chase (USA)
The Blue Journey Dangerous Waves Project is an educational effort by Bruckner Chase in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service and Ocean Today. It bolsters an impactful, practical film series with a public outreach via clinics and talks that are augmented by partnerships with like-minded corporate partners, community groups, villages, schools and environmental organizations. Surf Zone Safe is the upcoming Ocean Today film series with location and community specific advice for American Samoa, the American East Coast, Pacific Northwest, Southern California and Hawaii. The series will be released as part of an Ocean Today’s Full Moon program available worldwide. For its focus on beach and ocean safety, science and conservation; for its public goal of Situational Awareness when swimmers and non-swimmers alike are in, on or near open bodies of water; for its messaging focused on Respect the Ocean, the Blue Journey Dangerous Waves Project is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
3. Global Swim Series by Rob Kent & Dylan Kent (Canada)
Father Rob Kent and son Dylan Kent envisioned a global connection between open water events around the world. Their platform became the world’s largest open water swimming network called the Global Swim Series. Through social media marketing and word-of-mouth, over 75,000 swimmers in 115 races across 30 countries have now participated in the rapidly growing phenomenon. When a campaign like the Global Swim Series can so easily and quickly connect swimmers across six continents, the sport and the creative vision of Canadian father and son have arrived. For the professional marketing platform that enables viral expansion around the globe, for the production of a competitive ranking system that equally awards speed and participation, and for its inspirational, joyful message across borders, the Global Swim Series by Rob Kent and Dylan Kent is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
4. LongSwimsDB by Evan Morrison (USA)
LongSwimsDB is a powerful, informational, searchable, constantly updated database of marathon and channel swims around the world. Developed by Evan Morrison, verified swims from more than 30,000 swims by over 12,200 swimmers from 115 countries and 158 established marathon course are publicly posted on the Marathon Swimmers Federation. Simple to use, easy to search, the database of individual swimmer profiles and event results is rapidly growing with the help of volunteers and automated data import programs. LongSwimsDB is an authoritative service that ties the global open water swimming community closer together, both across continents and generations. For documenting swims in an authoritative, historical manner, for providing interesting lists of swimmers and their achievements through an elegant computer database searchable on smartphones and laptops, and for its thoroughly simple ease of use, LongSwimsDB is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
5. New York Open Water by David Barra, Rondi Davies & Alex Arévalo (USA)
New York Open Water has rapidly stamped and shared its vision on the marathon swimming world. The event management entity has taken the energy and opportunities of the defunct NYC Swim to a new level. David Barra, Rondi Davies and Alex Arévalo built upon the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim and other established swims around New York City – and extended and strengthened the opportunities to swim around, in and near the Big Apple. From the nearly impossibly long 91.8 km 40 Bridges Double Manhattan Island Swim to the most definitely long 193 km 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim, the passionate trio has built a solid foundation of races for the world’s most extreme marathon swimmers. For reviving and expanding the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim as the 20 Bridges event, for creating and hosting the longest solo marathon swims and stage swims in the world, for attracting swimmers from around the world to New York, New York Open Water is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
6. Open Water Swim Academy by Dan Simonelli (USA)
The Open Water Swim Academy offers a safe and supportive environment for teaching and training open water swimmers, no matter what their starting point or final goals are. Led by coach, crew chief, lifeguard and escort kayaker Dan Simonelli, recreational, masters and competitive swimmers are taught a comprehensive curriculum of technical, environmental, mental and physical aspects of the sport. For sharing the latest and best techniques and tactics both in the pool and Pacific Ocean, for teaching myriad aspects of open water swimming in beautiful La Jolla, California – and from Hawaii to Dover - from swim techniques and nutrition to marine life and goal setting, for promoting and expanding open water swimming to students and adults from all walks of life, the Open Water Swim Academy is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
7. Outdoor Swimmer by Simon Griffiths (Great Britain)
Outdoor Swimmer made a major decision to change its original brand from H2Open Magazine in 2017. It was a risky change, but the strategy behind thought process was brilliant and well thought-out. As the most colorful, informative, comprehensive open water swimming-dedicated publication in the world, the magazine is a must-have for everyone from the die-hard, hardened swimmer to casual enthusiasts in the sport. Spotlighting personalities and events with insightful interviews are augmented by a global calendar of events and a complimentary social media presence. For its belief in its core mission and essential values to make such fundamental change to its brand, for flawlessly pulling off its transition to reach its next stage of development and global expansion, for providing 12 issues of beautiful open water swimming photography and engaging prose by Simon Griffiths, Jonathan Cowie and talented writers and photographers, Outdoor Swimmer is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
8. Sea Donkey with Adrian Sarchet (Guernsey)
Sea Donkey tells the story of Adrian Sarchet and his adventure across the North Channel. The documentary, directed by James Harrison, celebrates the depth of the human spirit of an ordinary man, an advocate from Guernsey, who took to the open water with a passionate desire after more than a decade of lawyering. As he closing in on becoming one of the few people who have completed the Oceans Seven, Sarchet is now far beyond the poor health he had previously existed with. Sarchet transformed himself from a law-obsessed professional to a broad-minded adventurer. Through riveting interviews with the protagonist, pilot and crew amid beautiful imagery between Northern Ireland and Scotland, Sarchet’s personal journey is an improbable, mind-bending and astonishing path to becoming one of the world's most adventurous extreme athletes. For its inspirational message that the documentary delivers, for showcasing the unlikely transformation of an advocate to a risk-taking channel swimmer, for sharing the challenges and joy so prevalent in the sport of open water swimming, Sea Donkey is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
9. Shark Bait by Dr. Seán O’Connell (Bermuda)
Shark Bait: How I Battled Tides, Fins and Fatigue to Complete the First Non-stop Swim Around Bermuda is a fascinating, long-overdue autobiography about Dr. Seán O’Connell's pioneering circumnavigation swim around his adopted Bermuda. His voice with a deep passion for adventure mixed in with youthful energy and exuberance comes through loud and clear in 110-page paperback. In 1976, the mathematics lecturer boldly took up a bet in a bar and raised money for charity in a mind-boggling attempt to swim around the island of Bermuda. The details of the concept, the planning and logistics that went into the swim, and how he came back from his first disappointing failure are riveting to read four decades after his 43 hour 27 minute 61 km circumnavigation swim. For documenting about an unprecedented swim long lost in the annals of marathon swimming, for bringing alive one of the longest and most arduous solo circumnavigations in the 20th century, for writing prose that rings true to any contemporary open water swimmer, Shark Bait is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
10. Swim Argentina by Matías Ola (Argentina)
Swim Argentina is the brainchild and creation of Matías Ola, an accomplished ice swimmer and marathon swimmer, capable in all possible conditions from cold to warm. Almost singlehandedly in the most unlikely of seasons and the most unlikely of locations, he has brought winter swimmers from around the globe to incredibly scenic locations from Ushuaia, Mendoza and the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina to Laguna del Inca in Chile. Swim Argentina also organizes relay and solo crossings of the 42 km Río de la Plata and the 12 km Beagle Channel in Argentina and offers extreme swimming camps in Spain, Mount Everest and Antarctica. For establishing brand new extreme swimming camps, competitions and crossings in Argentina, Chile, Tibet, Spain and the South Pole, for organizing extreme swims with safe oversight in ruggedly stark, brutally cold scenic locations, for giving swimmers myriad unique opportunities to realize their swimming dreams in off-the-beaten track venues, Swim Argentina is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
11. The Channel of Bones with Toni Enderli (South Africa)
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. Travessia do Leme ao Pontal by Adherbal de Oliveira & Renato Ribeiro Barbosa (Brazil)
The Travessia do Leme ao Pontal is a scenic 35 km coastal swim in Brazil that ends in Pontal and was inspired by a famous song in Brazil called Do Leme ao Pontal. The ocean challenge offers great natural beauty where the swimmer can admire from a privileged perspective the wonders of Rio de Janeiro including Sugar Loaf, Copacabana Beach, Christ the Redeemer, Cagarras Archipelago, Ipanema Beach, São Conrado Beach, Barra da Tijuca Beach and the Pontal Stone. Adherbal de Oliveira and Renato Ribeiro Barbosa created a governing body (Leme to Pontal Swimming Association) that enables solo and relay attempts for neoprene and bioprene swimmers along the gorgeous course. For creating a professional infrastructure complete with escort pilots, crew, guidance and record-keeping to support marathon swims and relays, for encouraging marathon swimming among people who are inspired to repeat the lyrics of a popular song, for offering opportunities throughout the year in temperatures that can range from 15°C to 26°C, the Travessia do Leme ao Pontal is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.
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