2018 WOWSA Awards


Cutoff Date and Time for Voting is January 1, 2019 at 12:00 am (California time) and the results will announced on the Daily News of Open Water Swimming.


The nominees are presented in the following four categories:

2018 WOWSA Man of the Year Nominees

2018 WOWSA Open Water Swimming
Man of the Year Nominees

  1. Benoît Lecomte (France/USA)
  2. Cameron Bellamy (South Africa)
  3. Diego López Dominguez (Canary Islands)
  4. Ferry Weertman (Netherlands)
  5. Igor Lukin (Russia)
  6. Ion Lazarenco Tiron (Republic of Moldava/Ireland)
  7. John Batchelder (USA)
  8. Jose Luis Larrosa Chorro (Spain)
  9. Kristóf Rasovszky (Hungary)
  10. Lewis Pugh (Great Britain/South Africa)
  11. Maarten van der Weijden (Netherlands)
  12. Ned Denison (Ireland/USA)
  13. Rohan More (India)
  14. Vladimir Mravec (Slovakia/Australia)
  15. Yaroslav Pronin (Belarus)

1. Benoît Lecomte (France/USA)
Benoît Lecomte finally started The Swim, his long-held dream to complete an 8,721 km transoceanic stage swim across the Pacific Ocean from Japan to San Francisco, California in June. After 146 days on the Pacific Ocean, far far far away from land or immediate help, Lecomte has swum 2,747 km as he has dealt with tropical storms and dangerous conditions while seeing sharks, whales, dolphins, turtles, jellyfish and facing plastic pollution on nearly every day. Challenges occur every day including an oncoming typhoon with winds of 120 knots and 12-meter waves as the escort boat and crew must sail out of its path. But the 50-year-old returns to his point of exit on every stage in order to traverse literally across every kilometer of the Pacific Ocean. For conducting 27 different experiments and research projects in collaboration with researchers and scientists around the world, for working tirelessly for 7 years in order to plan and finance history's longest stage swim and recruit the most hardened and experienced mariners to become members of his escort crew, and for his audacious dream to swim across the Pacific Ocean, Benoît Lecomte of France/USA is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

2. Cameron Bellamy (South Africa)
Cameron Bellamy has cycled, rowed and ran long distances over the course of his athletic career, setting two Guinness World Records. He only recently caught the open water swimming bug. But once Bellamy became immersed in the open water world, he was all-in and went all-out as is his innate modus operandi. He started from scratch and subsequently crossed the English Channel (16 hours 29 minutes), Strait of Gibraltar (4 hours 1 minute), Catalina Channel (11 hours 53 minutes), North Channel (12 hours 22 minutes), Molokai Channel (17 hours 1 minute), Cook Strait (12 hours 44 minutes) and Tsugaru Channel (11 hours 7 minutes) to become the first South African to achieve the Oceans Seven. But he did not rest on his laurels and later attempted a 96 km circumnavigation swim around Barbados, swimming for over 27 hours and 66 km before he aborted the swim. For creating a charitable organization called the Ubunye Challenge that raises funds for sustainable development in the poorest areas of Africa through sports challenges, for returning to Japan to tackle the Tsugaru Channel in order to achieve the Oceans Seven, and for attempting a second 96 km circumnavigation swim around Barbados while helping the local Caribbean swimming community and working in Silicon Valley, Cameron Bellamy of South Africa is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

3. Diego López Dominguez (Canary Islands)
Diego López Dominguez of the Canary Islands is a global thinker. He made a plan to participate in competitive races and across channels in Haiti, USA, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Bolivia, England, France, Turkey, Hong Kong and Antarctica throughout the year - and successfully completed 17 swims totalling 256 km on 7 continents. He called his unprecedented feat, the Continents Seven. The 11-month tour of the globe required tenacity, logistical planning, significant financial resources, stamina and a huge appetite for travel and doing swims in severe jet lag. He crossed the English Channel and Catalina Channel; he swam in Lake Titicaca in the Andes, and won races in Hong Kong, Haiti, New York, Arizona and culminated in an ice kilometer in Antarctica. For being a friendly, personable, accessible ambassador on literally every continent in the world, for making friends with and serving as a mentor for swimmers of all ages, and for envisioning and completing the first Continents Seven, Diego López Dominguez of the Canary Islands is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

4. 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. His success continued in 2018 and is powered by an intensity and laid-back passion that is unmistakable in the 26-year-old Dutchman. He has both speed and stamina in abundance based on a massive amount of fast 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 a wide variety of races from the RCP Tiburon Mile in San Francisco to the FINA/HOSA Marathon Swim World Series race in Qatar. He was in the lead pack in races in Seychelles, Portugal, Hungary, and China and is ranked first in the 2018 FINA/HOSA Marathon Swim World Series. For his competitive spirit and composure under pressure in the highest levels of competition, for winning the 10 km marathon swim and the 5 km mixed team relay at the LEN European Championships in Scotland's Loch Lomond, for his genuinely engaging personality in casually addressing questions from the media and fans, Ferry Weertman of the Netherlands is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

5. Igor Lukin (Russia)
 Igor Lukin continues his mastery of the International Winter Swimming World Cup series that has taken him to pools carved out of the ice in Latvia, Russia, United Kingdom, China, Sweden, and Estonia. The 61-year-old overwhelmingly won the overall International Winter Swimming Association World Cup title for the second consecutive season in the row with an impressive 708 points. He also set age-group world records in the 25m breaststroke (16.87), 50m breaststroke (37.63), 100m breaststroke (1:32.34), 200m breaststroke (3:36.87), 25m freestyle (13.90), 50m freestyle (31.31), and 25m butterfly (15.44). For his dominating performance on the International Winter Swimming World Cup circuit, for his versatility in swimming fast in cold water, and for representing Club Viktoriya, his region of Petrozavodsk and Russia very well in a fast-growing sport, Igor Lukin of Russia is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

6. Ion Lazarenco Tiron (Republic of Moldava/Ireland)
Ion Lazarenco Tiron did his first major open water swim with a 235 km Swimming Marathon Nistru – Unites Moldova stage swim that took 8 days – and raised lots of money for charity. He forged on and ultimately developed a massively hardened veneer and a tough mental attitude in his adopted Ireland. This year, he culminated his four-year Oceans Seven journey with a successful crossing of the Cook Strait. Along the way in the midst of receiving a slew of awards in Ireland and completing an Ice Mile, he has completed the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming as well as crossings of the Strait of Gibraltar (4 hours 41 minutes), English Channel (13 hours 34 minutes), North Channel (16 hours 23 minutes), Catalina Channel (12 hours 1 minute), Molokai Channel (18 hours 11 minutes), Tsugaru Channel (11 hours 20 minutes) and Cook Strait (11 hours 5 minutes). For becoming the first person from the Republic of Moldova to achieve the Oceans Seven, for serving as an ambassador of the sport and adapting to the Irish community of accomplished swimmers, and for showing that one's origins present no barrier to swimming across the world's most iconic channels while raising significant funds for charities in Moldova, Ion Lazarenco Tiron of the Republic of Moldova is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

7. John Batchelder (USA)
John Batchelder is marathon swimming butterflyer extraordinaire. Every year, he continues to push himself beyond the reasonable. This year, he set off across the English Channel, swimming only butterfly. He swam non-stop fly for 14 hours 36 minutes before an upset stomach in the Channel got the better of him. Within weeks, he set off to attempt an unprecedented 64.6 km two-way crossing of the Catalina Channel butterfly the next month. A record swim was not realized, but the 37-year-old did complete a successful one-way Catalina Channel crossing in California in 17 hours 14 minutes. He had little time for recovery before finishing the 25 km Border Buster in Vermont's Lake Memphremagog in 10 hours 22 minutes. His goal to match Vicki Keith's legendary 50-mile butterfly swim was then set for Lake Powell in Utah. That valiant butterfly swim ended after 53.9 km and about 28 hours during his second night when hallucinations got the better of him. For swimming for all the right reasons - keep in shape, to push himself, for fun and friendships, for becoming the world's most prolific marathon swimming butterflyer, and for continuing to strive for success even with DNF's along the way in swims that very few would attempt, John Batchelder of the USA is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

8. Jose Luis Larrosa Chorro (Spain)
Jose Luis Larrosa Chorro has established a foothold in Malaysia as a top swimmer, influential and popular coach who organizes short children swims and marathon swimmers for a growing field of international marathon swimmers. The 37-year-old also serves as the Global Manager for the Oceanman where his responsibilities include managing races in Malaysia, Spain, Russia, Italy, Greece, Mexico, Switzerland, Ukraine, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates. He created a novel online open water coaching platform to popularize open water swimming in Southeast Asia. For his passion and knowledge of the sport as he travels globally including a new races from Brunei to Malaysia, for his ubiquitous presence at events in Singapore, Malaysia, Bangladesh, and India as a competitor, and for his podium finishes at the 81 km India National Open Water Swimming Competition in 11 hours 2 minutes and at the 16 km Perhentian Island Marathon Swim in 4 hours 7 minutes as he grows the Oceanman circuit to 24 countries, Jose Luis Larrosa Chorro of Spain is nominated for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

9. Kristóf Rasovszky (Hungary)
Kristóf Rasovszky is a threat to win every race he enters from 5 km to 25 km. He pushed world and Olympic champion in the 10 km race at the 2018 LEN European Championships in Loch Lomond, Scotland, finishing in an identical time. He also won the shortest (5 km) and longest (25 km) races at the European Championships in dramatic fashion with a powerful finishing kick. The 21-year-old also won the FINA/HOSA Marathon Swim World Series race in Setúbal Bay in Portugal. For his competitive spirit and composure during the highest levels of competition against the world's fastest veterans, for winning the 5 km race and 25 km race, finishing 10 km race and participating in the 5 km mixed team relay at the LEN European Championships in Scotland's Loch Lomond, for transitioning from a fast 1500m swimmer to a leading world-class open water swimmer in a short period of time, Kristóf Rasovszky of Hungary is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

10. Lewis Pugh (Great Britain/South Africa)
After a series of swims in Antarctica as part of his campaign to create three Marine Protection Areas, United Nations Environment Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh lobbied key government leaders and officials to establish a huge protection area in the Ross Sea in the Southern Ocean. While his previous ice swims attracted a lot of media attention, he decided to swim closer to people who can make a major environmental difference in 2018. He set off on a 560 km stage swim - called The Long Swim - across the British coast of the English Channel from Land's End in Cornwall to Dover in Kent. He finished after 49 days fighting currents, turbulence and tidal flows while engaging with locals and politicians along the way. For dreaming up, widely promoting, and successfully completing an unprecedented swim along - not across - the English Channel, for being an authentic, powerful and relentless voice for marine environmental protection and winning the Service to the Planet Award, and for encouraging and convincing the British government to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030 that sets an impressive benchmark for other governments to follow, Lewis Pugh of Great Britain/South Africa is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

11. Maarten van der Weijden (Netherlands)
Maarten van der Weijden shocked the world - making Olympic history - when he became the first cancer survivor to win an Olympic gold medal in the most dramatic fashion possible. Rounding the last turn buoy in ninth position, van der Weijden won the 2008 Olympic 10K Marathon Swim...and then retired to the life of motivational speaking and corporate work. One of the most recognizable and personable ambassadors of open water swimming, he authored a book and continued to raise money for cancer research. Last year, he swam 99.5 km in 24 hours and raised €8500. In March, he tried a 24-hour swim again and broke the world record swimming 102.8 km. But he outdid himself in August when he attempted to swim the Elfstedentocht in the Netherlands. The dramatic swim was live streamed and, although his swim was cut short, he swam 163 km in 55 hours. For raising over €5 million for cancer charities, the greatest amount of donations from a solo charity swim in history, for representing himself, his country and the sport so well for so long as a amiable, seriously-minded ambassador, for living an inspirational life for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities, Maarten van der Weijden of the Netherlands is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

12. Ned Denison (Ireland/USA)
Ned Denison is an accomplished swimmer with Ice Miles and 47 marathons including the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming, False Bay and the record holder in The Cold Half and S.C.A.R. Swim Challenge. But his influence is much greater and global as an administrator, visionary, motivator, coach and personable facilitator. His Cork Distance Week celebrated 10 years including nearly 100 attendees at The Triple Crown Dinner to celebrate 16 swimmers. He recognizes and honors swimmers around the world as the Chair of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. Growing internationally, he organized the last two induction dinners in London - with the first individuals honored from Sweden and South Africa and the second from China – leading to the first in Asia Pacific (Melbourne) in 2019. He communicates, he researches, he calls out safety issues, he recognizes heroes and heroines of the sport. For directing the limelight to both popular and relatively unknown luminaries in the ice swimming and marathon swimming communities, for bringing the open water swimming world together via news reports on social media augmented by a constant stream of communications, and for making everyone feel a part of a growing and more global network of like-minded swimmers, Ned Denison of Ireland/USA is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

13. Rohan More (India)
Living in Abu Dhabi and India during his Oceans Seven journey, Rohan Dattatrey More became the first person from India training in warm-water environs to complete the Oceans Seven. Since the age of 11, More has done marathon swims, first in his native lands and then across the English Channel (13 hours 13 minutes), Catalina Channel (10 hours 17 minutes), Molokai Channel (17 hours 28 minutes), North Channel (12 hours 46 minutes), Tsugaru Channel (10 hours 37 minutes), Strait of Gibraltar (3 hours 56 minutes), and Cook Strait (8 hours 37 minutes) between the ages of 28 and 32 while working as a software engineer. The 32-year-old was inducted as an Honor Swimmer in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame this year and won India’s prestigious Tenzing Norgay Award for his swimming exploits. For becoming the first person from south Asia to achieve the Oceans Seven, for serving as an ambassador of the sport and his native India throughout the world with a bright, genuine smile, and for showing that one's whereabouts and origins present no barrier to swimming across the world's most iconic channels, Rohan More of India is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

14. Vladimir Mravec (Slovakia/Australia)
Vladimir Mravec offers specialized training programs augmented by mental preparation and logistical advice, to swimmers in order so they enjoy their open water swimming journeys. His renowned program Vladswim has resulted in several dozens of swimmers from Australia completing channel swims and marathon swims, and competing in triathlons and masters events around the world. Mravec offers cold water camps, technique correction, and intense training sessions that instill self-confidence, develop character, and increase tenacity in order to achieve personal success including swims across the English Channel, North Channel, Catalina Channel, Molokai Channel, around Manhattan Island, Rottnest Channel and across Lake Zurich, and many others. In the last 10 years he coached 47 successful English Channel swimmers from Australia, UK, USA, Germany and Ireland, 9 Triple Crown Swimmers and more. Mravec has also coached a number of long distance swimmers from his native Slovakia including the first Slovakian female English Channel swimmer and the first Slovakian Triple Crown Swimmer. For shaping the athletic goals and enabling the success of adult swimmers in open bodies of water around the world, for providing a comprehensive training program that prepares swimmers for all types of conditions and courses, and for sharing his expertise and experience via the Vladswim program, coach and motivator Vladimir Mravec born in Slovakia is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

15. Yaroslav Pronin (Belarus)
Yaroslav Pronin is just plain fast - especially in a pool, preferably very cold. The 26-year-old Belarus native set a world record in the 25m butterfly at the Jelgava, Latvias Roni Cup in 12.23, in the 100m freestyle at the 2018 Winter Swimming World Championships in Tallinn, Estonia in 54:38, and in the 200m freestyle at the Russian Pacific Open Cup in Vladivostok, Russia in 2:02:59. These are all mind-boggling speedy in cold water considering there are no flip turns or dive starts in these races. Pronin demonstrated his speed by handily winning the 25m, 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle races and the 25m butterfly, and finished 2nd in the 25m and 50m breaststroke, and 6th in the 100m breaststroke at the 11th Winter Swimming World Championships on March 6th-11th in Tallinn, Estonia. For his raw speed in the cold, for winning 674 total points on the International Winter Swimming World Cup circuit, and for setting age group records in the 25m freestyle (11.26), 50m freestyle (24.87), 100m freestyle (54.38), 200m freestyle (2:02.59), and 25m butterfly (12.23) while representing Belarus and the Winter Swimming Club Belgart well in Latvia, Russia, United Kingdom, China, Sweden, and Estonia, Yaroslav Pronin of Belarus is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

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2018 WOWSA Woman of the Year Nominees

2018 WOWSA Open Water Swimming
Woman of the Year Nominees

  1. Aleksandra Bednarek (Poland)
  2. Abhejali Bernardová (Czech Republic)
  3.  Ana Marcela Cunha (Brazil)
  4.  Barbara Pozzobon (Italy)
  5.  Caroline Block, Ph.D.  (USA)
  6.  Eilís Burns (Ireland)
  7.  Hania Bakuniak (Poland)
  8.  Jaimie Monahan (USA)
  9.  NadezhdaDudina (Russia)
  10.  Oksana Beletskaya (Russia)
  11.  Paula Selby (USA)
  12.  Pat Gallant-Charette (USA)
  13.  Rondi Davies, Ph.D. (USA)
  14.  Sharon van Rouwendaal (Netherlands)
  15. Teruko Onuki (Japan)

1. Aleksandra Bednarek (Poland)
Aleksandra Bednarek is hot in a cold community. The 20-year-old Polish swimmer from Łódź who represents the Polish Ogrodnik Team set two International Winter Swimming Association world records at the 2018 Winter Swimming World Championships in Tallinn, Estonia with 523 points. Her world records include the 50m breaststroke (37.89) and 200m breaststroke (3:00.53). Her age group records include the 100m breaststroke (1:27.21). For her dominating breaststroke performances on the International Winter Swimming World Cup circuit, for her range and versatility in swimming fast in the cold water, and for representing the Polish Ogrodnik Team, her region and Poland very well in Latvia, Russia, United Kingdom, China, Sweden, and Estonia in a fast-growing sport, Aleksandra Bednarek of Poland is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

2. Abhejali Bernardová (Czech Republic)
Abhejali Bernardová is a peace ultrarunner (6-day runs + 24-hour runs + 100 km runs) turned swimmer who promotes endurance sports and self-transcendence via media appearances and speeches to the public and at school. The member of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team became the 4th woman to complete the Oceans Seven. After achieving the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming, she crossed the English Channel (14 hours 37 minutes), Strait of Gibraltar (4 hours 35 minutes), Catalina Channel (9 hours 46 minutes), Tsugaru Channel (11 hours 7 minutes), Molokai Channel (21 hours 52 minutes), North Channel (10 hours 23 minutes), and Cook Strait (13 hours 9 minutes) between the ages of 34 and 41 to become the first person from the Czech Republic - a landlocked country - to swim across 7 iconic channels, all successful on her first attempt. She organized a record number of swimmers in a new popular 6-hour pool swim in the Czech Republic shortly after her last channel swim. She teaches about the importance of a calm mind for success in the open water and on dryland. For being a Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team ambassador who achieved the Oceans Seven, for continuing to serve as a peace runner, race director and an organizer of extreme sports that gives others an opportunity to experience their own challenges under safe conditions, and for lending a helping hand and friendly smile with a passion for long distance swimming as a mentor for people of all ages and abilities, Abhejali Bernardová of the Czech Republic is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

3. Ana Marcela Cunha (Brazil)
Ana Marcela Cunha is flat-out fast and non-stop: traveling, competing and medalling around the world. The two-time Olympian is on track to win her fourth career FINA/HOSA Marathon Swim World Series title (after winning in 2010, 2012 and 2014) while winning 3 FINA UltraMarathon Swim Series titles in 2011, 2015 and 2017. The newly inducted International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Swimmer won several races from her native Brazil to FINA/HOSA Marathon Swim World Series races in Hungary and Canada. Her victory in Canada's lac St-Jean was her incredible 20th career FINA/HOSA Marathon Swim World Series victory, a clear indication of her long-running success in the open water. For never backing down from a challenge including a mano-a-mano race against the 2016 Olympic 10K gold medalist at the Rio Negro Champions Challenge and the Olympic silver medalist at the 2018 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Japan and at the LEN Open Water Cup in France, for coming back from having her spleen removed in 2017, and for her constant smile and affable spirit in racing around the world despite long flights and sponsor demands, Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

4. Barbara Pozzobon (Italy)
Barbara Pozzobon swam further faster than anyone else in the marathon swimming world. The 24-year-old Italian finished second in the 57 km Maratón Acuática Internacional Santa Fe – Coronda in the warm waters of Argentina, won the 32 km Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean in the cold, choppy waters in Quebec, Canada, won the 25 km Ohrid Lake Marathon in Macedonia in a close race over Olympian Anna Olasz before culminating her long season by winning the 36 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli in Italy to capture the 2018 FINA UltraMarathon Swim Series title. In addition to winning her second consecutive FINA career title, she finished 6th in the World University Games 10 km in Taiwan. For winning her second consecutive FINA UltraMarathon Swim Series career title in all kinds of water temperatures and conditions, for becoming a mainstay on the powerful Italian national open water swim team, and for representing her country well in a number of international competitions across four continents, Barbara Pozzobon of Italy is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

5. Caroline Block, Ph.D.  (USA)
Dr. Caroline Block is an American marathon swimmer who continues to push the boundaries not only for herself, but the entire channel swimming community. An anthropologist on dry land, she pioneered a 55.7 km south-to-north crossing of Lake Cayuga in New York. Although her traverse took 21 hours 36 minutes, it was a mere warm-up for her second attempt of the hardest two-way crossing of the Oceans Seven: a 70 km double of the North Channel. Taking off from Northern Ireland, the 34-year-old finished her first leg in 16 hours 45 minutes - and turned right around to head back, an unfathomable attempt for nearly everyone but herself. After a total swim distance of 61.2 km and 25 hours 58 minutes, Mother Nature won the battle. Her attempt was followed by thousands via her tracker and her effort was inspirational and educational for many more. To culminate her season, she became the first woman and second individual to swim 44.3 km from Santa Rosa Island to the California mainland, finishing in 20 hours 36 minutes. For attempting the most difficult two-way channel crossing in the world again and pushing herself immeasurably before running into impassable tides, for humbly accepting praises and compliments from admiring swimmers worldwide, and for being so positive and passionate about attempting and pioneering unprecedented swims, Dr. Caroline Block of the USA is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

6. Eilís Burns (Ireland)
Eilís Burns transformed her international-level water polo, marathon swimming and Ireland masters talents to the open water world and was well deservingly inducted in the Hall of Fame – Marathon Swimming Ireland as an Honour Contributor (Coach) in its inaugural Class of 2018. Year in and year out, Burns works hard as a coach and mentor fully committed to swimmers from various walks of life and of all abilities to become successful open water swimmers. She has a tremendous influence in County Cork, Ireland that has lead to the development of hundreds of local marathon swimmers and dozens of successful crossings of the English Channel. For insisting that her swimmers raise charity funds - which exceeded €100,000 - instead of paying for her coaching services, for creating the requisite network, ambiance and knowledge base so Cork has become a global epicenter of marathon swimming, and for maintaining her passion for the sport since 1973, Eilís Burns of Ireland is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

7. Hania Bakuniak (Poland)
22-year-old Hania Bakuniak took the ice in 2018 and swam her way into the record books. The Polish Ogrodnik Team member does not train in a traditional hotbed of ice swimming, but she was strong enough to win the 1 km ice kilometer championship at the 2018 Ice Swimming Aqua Sphere German Open in a new world record of 13:05.7 - that would rank her 7th overall among men. She won the 50m freestyle, the 200m breaststroke, the 50m butterfly, and the 500m freestyle at the prestigious 2018 Ice Swimming Aqua Sphere German Open. She won the 100m freestyle, finished 3rd in the 50m freestyle and 200m freestyle and 4th in the 450m race at the 11th Winter Swimming World Championships in Tallinn, Estonia and later in summer completed a 32.3 km crossing of the Catalina Channel in 10 hours 19 minutes. For her versatile swimming abilities enhanced with a deep gratitude for her coach, mentors, and volunteers, for developing so quickly as one of the hottest young talents in the ice swimming world and being selected to the Polish national team at the 2019 World Ice Swimming Championships, and for representing her sport and the emerging world of ice swimming extraordinarily well in her native Poland on radio and television, Hania Bakuniak of Poland is a worthy nominee for the 2018 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. Nadezhda Dudina (Russia)
Nadezhda Dudina from Ufa, Bashkortostan is one of the fastest septuagenarian open water swimmers in the world - and its fastest winter swimming among 70-year-olds. She won the 2017 – 2018 International Winter Swimming Association World Cup circuit in the 70 – 74 year age group and holds 4 age group world records in the 100m breaststroke, 200m breaststroke, 200m freestyle, 450m freestyle, 3 of which were established in 2018. She competed in every single individual event at the 2018 International Winter Swimming Association World Championships in Tallinn, Estonia where she took first place in her age group in the 450m freestyle, 200m breaststroke, and 100m breaststroke, and took 2nd in the 200m freestyle, 100m freestyle and 25m butterfly, and 3rd in the 50m freestyle and 50m breaststroke. This year, she also completed her 10th consecutive Murmansk Mile (1.2 km Murmanskaja Mila) across Kola Bay over this decade in 4-8°C water and swam in Lake Baikal in her native Russia. For continuing her passion for extreme swimming and travel in her senior years, for swimming so fast across all distances and all strokes, and for serving as an inspiration for many younger swimmers trying to establish themselves in the sport, Nadezhda Dudina of Russia is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

10. Oksana Beletskaya (Russia)
Oksana Beletskaya loves the cold and swimming fast. The winter swimming representative from Vladivostok won the 2018 International Winter Swimming World Cup overall title with 641 points over 614 competitors from 40 countries. During the circuit, she set age-group world records in the 50m breaststroke (42.71), 100m breaststroke (1:35.02), and 200m breaststroke (3:23.77). At the 2018 Winter Swimming World Championships in Tallinn, Estonia, the 41-year-old finished 23rd overall in the 25m breaststroke, 10th overall in the 50m breaststroke, 8th overall in the 100m breaststroke, and 4th overall in the 200m breaststroke. For her raw record-setting speed in the cold, for winning the International Winter Swimming World Cup circuit, and for setting age group records in the breaststroke while representing Vladivostok and her Club Kosatka Dv in Latvia, Russia, United Kingdom, China, Sweden, and Estonia, Oksana Beletskaya of Russia is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

11. Paula Selby (USA)
There are few who are so instrumental behind the scenes as Paula Selby who sits on the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation board of directors. For more than a decade, she has volunteered innumerable hours as the Federation’s de facto Chief Operations Officer, intimately involved with every solo and relay attempt of the Catalina Channel as she tirelessly manages the increasingly crowded swim calendar, and coordinating a minimum of two observers for each crossing throughout the busy summer months. She starts early each year, recruiting and training nearly 100 observers, and coordinating with the fleet of escort vessels as the swimmer’s point of contact. She awaits call from observers at any hour for reports of success or DNFs. For arranging the observation of 70 swim events for Catalina Channel crossings from June 15th to October 18th, for dedicating a third of her year to coordinating open water safety with swimmers, relay captains and the observers before and after each crossing, and for documenting with photographs and maintaining the Federation's social media, Paula Selby of the USA is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

12. Pat Gallant-Charette (USA)
Pat Gallant-Charette continues to amaze year after year. The 67-year-old retired nurse became the oldest woman to complete the 20 Bridges Swim around Manhattan Island in New York (10 hours 53 minutes) and the oldest person to complete the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming and the 37 km Loch Ness in Scotland (13 hours 45 minutes). She became the oldest person in history to complete 34.2 km crossing of Lake Tahoe in California (20 hours 32 seconds) while setting the record for the slowest successful swim. For good measure, she also completed a 16.9 km crossing of Lake Windermere in England. After having set records in the Catalina Channel, Tsugaru Channel, North Channel, Molokai Channel, English Channel, and Lake Ontario earlier in her career, Gallant-Charette continued her record-setting ways from Lake Tahoe to Loch Ness on a global tour. For her deeply felt appreciation for all those who support and cheer for her, for her visible joy in crossing channels and swimming in lakes and rivers, and for establishing herself as one of the most humble luminaries in the marathon swimming world, Pat Gallant-Charette of the USA is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

13. Rondi Davies, Ph.D. (USA)
Dr. Rondi Davies is an accomplished marathon swimmer who holds the women's record around Manhattan Island (5 hours 44 minutes). She and David Barra and Alex Arévalo manage New York Open Water and its 20 event days when the 2 Bridges Swim, 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim, 20 Bridges Manhattan Island Swim, 40 Bridges Swim, Spuyten Duyvil 10K, Ederle Burke Swim, and Terry Laughlin Celebration Swim are held. Davies handles the micro and macro details of these events behind the scenes from choosing dates to modeling each circumnavigation and river swim, securing permits, coordinating volunteers, and innumerable other responsibilities. She spends every event day on the water keeping trackers running and recording data and is always looking to improve on the accuracy of the event timelines. For utilizing her disciplined, scientific mind to enable and organize smoothly run, professionally managed events, for tirelessly ensuring that each swimmer has an enjoyable, safe experience, for utilizing her own personal successes to replicate similar successful swims by hundreds of other swimmers in the New York Open Water calendar, Dr. Rondi Davies of the USA is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

14. Sharon van Rouwendaal (Netherlands)
Sharon van Rouwendaal is a Dutch star in both the pool and open water who had four incredible performances at the 2018 LEN European Championships held in Scotland's Loch Lomond. After winning medals in both the pool and open water in the European Championships, world championships and Olympics, the 25-year-old has won major international races like the 10 km race in Qatar on the FINA/HOSA Marathon Swim World Series and at the Championnats de France de Natation en Eau Libre in France. On the first day of European Championships, she dominated the 5 km race. On the second day, she won the 10 km race. On the third day of competition, she was part of the winning Dutch 5 km mixed team relay. On the final day after a punishing 25 km, only Arianna Bridi stood between her and a clean sweep of the four open water events - by the slimmest of margins: 0.1 seconds. For continuing her victorious ways after her 2016 Rio Olympics gold medal against all comers, for her #2 ranking on the FINA/HOSA Marathon Swim World Series with one race to go after competing in the Seychelles, Portugal, Hungary and China, for representing her country well and speaking eloquently about her sport, Sharon van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

15. Teruko Onuki (Japan)
Teruko Onuki was the fast competitive swimmer in her teenage years. Then she became the first Japanese to swim the English Channel - without GPS and without a techsuit - in 1982 in 9 hours 32 minutes. She parlayed that success to a lifetime of coaching, teaching, inspiring and writing about open water swimming. She has written 10 books on open water swimming and shares her advice and thoughts on swimming on television and in the Japanese media. She created a company called Unimchu - named for people whose livelihoods are centered in the ocean - that is her online and in-person platform for sharing her passion for ocean swimming and swimming long distances. She volunteers for FINA and the Japanese Swimming Federation as an open water swimming official and delegate, and assembles a number of successful swimmers, explorers and adventurers to augment her understanding of human potential both on dryland and in the open water. For taking and coaching Japanese marathon swimmers competing in events throughout Oceania and Asia, for conducting open water swimming camps and training sessions for swimmers of all ages and backgrounds, for leveraging her personal success in the English Channel to help expand the open water swimming community in Japan in a friendly, fun manner, Teruko Onuki of Japan is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

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2018 WOWSA Performance of the Year Nominees

2018 WOWSA Open Water Swimming
Performance of the Year Nominees

  1. Catalina Channel Crossing (USA) by Hank Wise
  2. Century Swim (USA) by Bill Welzien
  3. Great British Swim (UK) by Ross Edgley
  4. HK360Swim Around Hong Kong Island (Hong Kong) by Simon Holliday
  5. Ice Kilometer (Netherlands) by Sven Elfferich
  6. Double Ice Mile (Germany) by Hamza Bakircioglu
  7. Kangsha River Swim (Bangladesh) by Kshitindra Chandra Baisya
  8. Lake Zürich Two-Way Crossing (Switzerland) by Katrin Walter
  9. Santa Barbara Channel (USA) by Jim McConica
  10. Sfax to Djerba Marathon Swim (Tunisia) by Nejib Belhedi
  11. Traversée Internationale du lac St-Jean (Canada) by Edoardo Stochino
  12. Travessia do Leme ao Pontal (Brazil) by Glauco Luise de Oliveira Rangel
  13. Triple Country Swim (Italy-Monaco-France) by Carina Bruwer
  14. Tsugaru Channel Tandem Crossing (Japan) by Nora Toledano Cadena and Mariel Hawley Dávila
  15. Two-way Santa Cruz Island Crossing (USA) by Ken Mignosa

1. Catalina Channel Crossing (USA) by Hank Wise
Hank Wise found his calling at the age of 45. The Long Beach, California native has always been drawn to the ocean and excelled in the pool until he graduated from Stanford University. While he surfed and dabbled in short ocean races in Southern California in his younger years, he had never even attempted a channel swim until relatively late in life. But he made up for lost time when he became the King of the Catalina Channel after his seventh career crossing of the Catalina Channel in October this year. After completing two Top 10 times (8 hours 7 minutes both in 2010 and 2015), he finished five additional crossings in all kinds of conditions: 8 hours 20 minutes in 2016, 10 hours 14 minutes and 10 hours 1 minute in 2017, and hours minutes in 2018. For taking up channel swimming at such an advanced age and becoming the King of the Catalina Channel, for being so passionate and deeply appreciative of his crew, pilots and volunteers on each crossing, for becoming one of the few to break 8 hours among the 450 successful Catalina Channel swimmers, for developing his channel swimming passion and sharing it with others, the record-setting Catalina Channel crossing by Hank Wise of the USA is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

2. Century Swim (USA) by Bill Welzien
68-year-old Bill Welzien has been swimming all his life, but it was in 1991 when he started to complete 20.1 km circumnavigation swims around Key West, located at the very south of the state of Florida. Not only has he served as the race organizer of the Swim Around Key West since 2003 where he is responsible for hundreds of people doing the warm-water swim, but he completed the longest Century Swim in history. On May 19th 2018, he completed 100 documented solo circumnavigations around Key West, averaging about 6 hours 15 minutes over the course. For his persistence and dedication to swimming around Key West both as an athlete and a race organizer, for still swimming steadily as he has completed 105 circumnavigations to date even as he approaches the age of 70, and for being an icon of one of the longest continuously running marathon swims in the world, the Century Swim around Key West by Bill Welzien of the USA is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

3. Great British Swim (UK) by Ross Edgley
Ross Edgley made an initial splash in the open water swimming world with his unique Strongman Swimming feats - swimming long distances pulling a 100 kg log - after establishing himself as a fitness and sports performance expert, celebrity and author. But it is his Great British Swim - an unprecedented 3,218 km assisted stage swim around Great Britain - that has entertained and educated the eyes of millions of non-swimmers around the world about the challenges, difficulties, logistics and operations surrounding the sport of open water swimming. His videos from his mothership are informative and fun to watch; his explanations of what he experiences are interesting and insightful; descriptions of the conditions are comprehensive and inspiration. While the Great British Swim is a simple concept, the effort to complete the task has been a massive undertaking sponsored by Red Bull that has required teamwork with a large crew of professionals. For an audacious plan that has put him in the water for 130 consecutive days (to date), for his unique promotion of the sport, for pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the open water, the Great British Swim by Ross Edgley of the UK is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

4. HK360Swim Around Hong Kong Island (Hong Kong) by Simon Holliday
It took 41 years for someone to replicate the circumnavigation swim around Hong Kong by Australia Olympian and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Famer Linda McGill. Simon Holliday lowered her 1976 record by over 4 hours over the 42 km course around Hong Kong Island. With Shu Pu, HK360Swim Founder, Event Director and support paddler, and navigator Ross Vickers managing the logistics, working the currents and providing navigation, Holliday completed the swim clockwise in 12 hours 32 minutes. For generating significant local interest in open water swimming in Hong Kong, for leveraging his success to co-founding the Splash Foundation that sponsors and brings swimming programs to the underserved communities of Hong Kong, and for continuing to serve as an inspirational ambassador of marathon swimmers and non-swimmers alike in Asia, the HK360Swim Around Hong Kong Island by Simon Holliday is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

5. Ice Kilometer (Netherlands) by Sven Elfferich
17-year-old Sven Ellferich swam a fast 12 minute 31 second ice kilometer at the Dutch Ice Swimming Championships held in the Zwembad Waterdam Volendam pool in his native Netherlands. His 1000m swim in the 3.6°C water temperature in 3.0°C air was the second fastest ice kilometer in history; only the legendary Petar Stoychev has swum faster. For embracing the cold at such a young age showing tremendous upside for the future, for also winning the 3.9 km Killary Gaelforce Fjord Swim, the 1 km Obertraun Hallstättersee Ice Schwimming, the 1 km Lake Konstanz Eismann, and for setting a world junior record and the second fastest ice kilometer, the Ice Kilometer by Sven Ellferich of the Netherlands is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

6. Double Ice Mile (Germany) by Hamza Bakircioglu
271 people from 32 countries have swum a total of 403 individual Ice Miles that require the water temperature to be under 5°C. 46-year-old Turkish swimmer Hamza Bakircioglu has completed marathon swims (64 km Bodensee in 30 hours 45 minutes) and 4 Ice Kilometers and 2 Ice Miles during his career. But his last cold water swim was simply incredible as he swam a total of 2.14 miles (3.44 km) in a loop course in the fresh water of Sonthofersee in Sonthofen, Germany. The water temperature started at 3.9°C and rose to 4.5°C during his 1 hour 8 minute swim. For expanding his open water swimming repertoire to ice swimming, for swimming 3.44 km non-stop in water averaging 4.13°C, and for being Turkey’s most accomplished ice swimmer, the Double Ice Mile by Hamza Bakircioglu of Turkey is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

7. Kangsha River Swim (Bangladesh) by Kshitindra Chandra Baisya
Kshitindra Chandra Baisya once swam for 108 hours at the age of 24 and for 74 km at the age of 28. His swimming career took a lower priority over the next 4 decades. Last year, the 66-year-old completed a solo marathon swim 146 km down the Kangsha River in Bangladesh that took him 43 hours 25 minutes. His swim was massively impressive and profoundly simple, especially since he swam without goggles and well-equipped escort boats. But he one-upped himself in 2018 when he swam 185 km down the same slow-moving river from Vogai bridge in Nalitabari upazila of Sherpur to Madan upazila of Netrokona in Bangladesh that took him 60 hours 55 minutes. For coming back out of retirement and setting a record in his native land at the age of 67, for organizing a well-received, solo, non-stop motivational marathon swim observed by government officials and media representatives, for pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the open water at an advanced age, the Kangsha River Swim by Kshitindra Chandra Baisya of Bangladesh is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

7. Cook Strait Crossing (New Zealand) by Ion Lazarenco Tiron
Ion Lazarenco Tiron did his first major open water swim with a 235 km Swimming Marathon Nistru – Unites Moldova stage swim that took 8 days. This year, he completed his Oceans Seven journey that has taken him more than four years. Along the way, he developed a massively hardened veneer and a tough mental attitude in his adopted Ireland. In the midst of receiving a slew of awards in Ireland and doing an Ice Mile, he has completed the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming as well as crossings of the Strait of Gibraltar (4 hours 41 minutes), English Channel (13 hours 34 minutes), North Channel (16 hours 23 minutes), Catalina Channel (12 hours 1 minute), Molokai Channel (18 hours 11 minutes), Tsugaru Channel (11 hours 20 minutes) and Cook Strait (11 hours 5 minutes). For becoming the first person from the Republic of Moldova to achieve the Oceans Seven, for serving as an ambassador of the sport and adapting to the Irish community of accomplished swimmers, and for showing that one's origins present no barrier to swimming across the world's most iconic channels while raising significant funds for charities in Moldova, the Cook Strait crossing to complete the Oceans Seven by Ion Lazarenco Tiron of the Republic of Moldova is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

8. Lake Zürich Two-Way Crossing (Switzerland) by Katrin Walter
Prafulla Nocker pioneered a two-way crossing of Lake Zürich in 1986, finishing in 28 hours from Zürich Bürkliplatz to Lido Rapperswil and back to Zürich Bürkliplatz. In 1997, Vedika Bolliger completed the second two-way swim in 29 hours from Zürich Lido Tiefenbrunnen to Lido Rapperswil and back. Then no other attempt was made until Katrin Walter completed a two-way course of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon-Schwimmen 26 km course from Rapperswil to Zürich and back to Rapperswil in an outstanding time of 17 hours 25 minutes this August. Drinking Maxim every 30 minutes in the 25°C water, the 40-year-old German swam the second half of her record-setting swim faster than the first: 8 hours 54 minutes in the first half compared to 8 hours 30 minutes in the second half. After completing all 193 km of the 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim over its 7 stages, Walter was well prepared for her record-setting swim. For strategically planning every part and all logistics of her swim, for wanting to push herself further and further than ever before, for properly documenting her marathon swim with the Marathon Swimmers Federation Documented Swims program, the Lake Zürich Two-Way Crossing (Switzerland) by Katrin Walter of Germany is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

9. Santa Barbara Channel (USA) by Jim McConica
Jim McConica has always been blazing fast. Since his college days when he was one of the fastest swimmers in the world to this year when he set the Santa Barbara Channel record from the California mainland to Anacapa Island in 5 hours 5 minutes, the former USC Trojan has been breaking records. But at the age of 67, he broke the existing Santa Barbara Channel speed record by 25 minutes to become the oldest person to hold a channel speed record anywhere in the world. Even more remarkable is the fact that McConica also holds the Anacapa Island to mainland record - 19.6 km in the opposite direction - in 4 hours 38 minutes set in 2012 at the age of 61. For remaining suitably motivated to train hard enough to set overall channel swimming records and pool masters swimming records in his 60's, for setting the bar in the Santa Barbara Channel as one of the California Channel Islands most prolific swimmers, and for maintaining a love of swimming and a passion for daily training, the Santa Barbara Channel speed record set by Jim McConica of the USA is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

10. Sfax to Djerba Marathon Swim (Tunisia) by Nejib Belhedi
Nejib Belhedi has elevated the mindset and potential of open water swimming and human achievements in Tunisia and throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean Sea. As a continuation of his Ouma program, his icy swims, his boat pulls and marathon swims dating back to his English Channel crossing in 1993, Belhedi coordinated a wide spectrum of Tunisian institutions at different levels: national, regional and local from government ministries, federal agencies, regional governorates and Commissaries to local delegations, boatmen, volunteers, associations and sponsors to plan and complete the longest unassisted non-stop sea swim in history. His 76 hour 30 minute swim from Sfax to Djerba on the east coast of Tunisia between September 15th - 18th was a result of his indomitable spirit and an extraordinarily smooth logistical, navigational and operational support teams. Belhedi's recovery from open heart surgery and a transformation of his BMI and swimming stroke made his success even more remarkable. For recovering from open heart surgery to completing one of the longest swims in history, for cheerfully and positively inspiring many people of all ages and walks of life throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East, and for his creativity in organizing a difficult 120 km swim, the Sfax to Djerba Marathon Swim by Nejib Belhedi of Tunisia is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

11. Traversée Internationale du lac St-Jean (Canada) by Edoardo Stochino
Edoardo Stochino represents the Polizia of Italy very well. The 31-year-old won his second career FINA UltraMarathon Swim Series title by finishing in the top 3 in all three races including the 57 km race in Coronda-Santa Fe, Argentina, the 32 km race in lac St-Jean, Canada, and the 25 km race in Lake Ohrid, Macedonia. But it was his extremely close victory in the famed Traversée Internationale du lac St-Jean that sealed his second career FINA series title. He won the 32 km Traversée in 7 hours 10 minutes 52.7 seconds in less than a arm stroke and 0.7 seconds over rival Xavier Desharnais and 6.9 seconds over Alexander Studzinski that was seen by thousands of fans on the shores of lac St-Jean and many more watching online and on Canadian television. For swimming 32,000 meters and then pulling off a victory against two long-time rivals, for his consistent podium positions at the world's longest, most competitive professional swimming races, for maintaining his composure under all conditions and in all situations especially towards the end of marathon swims, the Traversée Internationale du lac St-Jean victory of Edoardo Stochino of Italy is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

12. Travessia do Leme ao Pontal (Brazil) by Glauco Luise de Oliveira Rangel
Do Leme ao Pontal is a popular Brazilian song that inspired 2-time Olympian Luiz Lima to pioneer a coastal marathon swim in 2008 in Brazil. As the 36 km course becomes increasingly popular with Brazilian and international swimmers, Glauco Rangel wanted to attempt the swim that traverses the dramatic coast of Rio de Janeiro, passing landmarks including Sugar Loaf, Copacabana Beach, Christ the Redeemer and Ipanema Beach. After receiving the generous financial assistance from friends and fellow swimmers who wanted to back his dream, Rangel proved the investment in his goal was wise after he set a course record in 7 hours 13 minutes. For dealing with nocturnal navigation, constant ocean swells, and strong currents in the Atlantic Ocean, for enduring jellyfish stings, an increasingly intense tropical rain and an upset stomach during the swim, and for swimming very fast along a course made popular by music, the Travessia do Leme ao Pontal by Glauco Luise de Oliveira Rangel of Brazil is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

13. Triple Country Swim (Italy-Monaco-France) by Carina Bruwer
Carina Bruwer is a Cape Town-based award-winning musician and producer is a marathon swimmer, mother of three, owner of Gigster, and a swimmer with a passion. She created a new course starting from Nice, France to the shoreline in Monte Carlo, Monaco, and then onwards to Ventimiglia, Italy. The 21 km cross-border swim passed two international borders and touched three countries in 7 hours 6 minutes, but generated awareness and funds for the @Muzukidz project so children from Cape Town townships are given the opportunity to learn how to play the violin. For completing the swim in difficult rough water against currents, for making a critical difference in the lives of less-fortunate children in her native South Africa, and for swimming to help others intellectually and musically through her unique platform called Swim For Hope, the cross-border Triple Country Swim by Carina Bruwer of South Africa is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

14. Tsugaru Channel Tandem Crossing (Japan) by Nora Toledano Cadena and Mariel Hawley Dávila
Nora Toledano Cadena and Mariel Hawley Dávila are icons, mentors, and authors in their native Mexico. En route to the Oceans Seven, they hit an insurmountable hurdle in 2017 when weather prevented them from attempting a crossing of the 19.5 km Tsugaru Channel. They waited another entire year, preparing for another attempt, but the weather from an anticipated typhoon led them to attempt the first tandem success across the channel in northern Japan. The experienced duo, physically fit and mentally resilient, took off and smashed the women's record and nearly set the overall record across the Tsugaru Channel. For their incredibly fast 6 hour 20 minute crossing from Honshu to Hokkaido in Japan, for continuing on their journey to become the first Mexican women to complete the Oceans Seven with only one channel remaining, and for their constant leadership, coaching and inspiration to help others realize their own dreams, the record-setting Tsugaru Channel Tandem Crossing by Nora Toledano Cadena and Mariel Hawley Dávila is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

15. Two-way Santa Cruz Island Crossing (USA) by Ken Mignosa
Ken Mignosa, known as The Beast, is one very tough, very hardened channel swimmer. Near two-meter white-capped waves did not stop the 54-year-old during his 17 hour 18 minute Catalina Channel crossing and neither did an unprecedented two-way crossing between Santa Cruz Island and the California mainland with an extra swing around Anacapa Island. His 29 hour 22 minute channel swim was the second longest channel swim off the American West Coast in history and the first two-way Santa Cruz Island swim that painstakingly totalled 65.98 km. For successfully completing the second longest solo marathon swim in California Channel Islands history, for swimming so far with a heartfelt appreciation of his crew and a positive mindset and broad smile, and for quietly compiling an impressive list of channel swims in his 50’s, the Two-way Santa Cruz Island Crossing by Ken Mignosa is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

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2018 WOWSA Offering of the Year Nominees

2018 WOWSA Open Water Swimming
Offering of the Year

  1. A History of Marathon Swimming (USA) by Joe Grossman & Steve Walker
  2. AKUA Kelp Jerky (USA) by Courtney Boyd Myers
  3. Asociación de Cruce a Nado del Río de la Plata (Argentina) by Lucas Rivet
  4. ENERGYbits® (USA) by Catharine Arnston
  5. Icebears Hintertux (Austria) by Josef Köberl
  6. International Ice Swimming Association World Cup Series (Global) by Ram Barkai
  7. Marathon Swimming: The Sport of the Soul (USA) by Paul Asmuth
  8. Maelstrom Seven (Global) by Wild Swimming Brothers
  9. Ontberingen van een marathonzwemster / Hardships Of A Marathonswimmer (Netherlands) by Monique Blok-Wildschut
  10. Patagonia Swim (Chile) by Cristian Vergara and Julieta Núñez Gundlach
  11. St. Lucia Channel Swim (St. Lucia & Martinique) by Sue Dyson and Nathaniel Waring
  12. Tahiti Swimming Experience (Tahiti) by Stéphane Debaere & Tahitian Swimming Federation
  13. Take Your Dream (Australia) by Eric, Hunter and Tuck Helmick
  14. TOWER 26 (USA) by Gerry Rodrigues
  15. Waikiki Roughwater Swim DIY Swim Certificate (Hawaii) by Michael Rök & Jim Cotton

1. A History of Marathon Swimming (USA) by Joe Grossman & Steve Walker
In order to preserve the colorful and rich history of marathon swimming, International Swimming Hall of Fame and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame dual inductee Dale Petranech kept alive his dream of publishing the personal files of World Professional Marathon Swimming Association administrator Joe Grossman. Despite Grossman's passing in 1974, Petranech faithfully maintained a huge stack of his personally typewritten pages for nearly 5 decades. Steve Walker edited the comprehensively compiled hundreds of pages of notes, observations, recollections and data from solo swims and competitions in numerous bodies of water around the globe. For colorfully recapturing and reformatting the incredibly detailed and long-lost slices of aquatic history over 536 pages, for publishing first-person recollections in A History of Marathon Swimming released 43 years after Grossman's death, and for enabling modern-day swimmers to savor an invaluable treasure that describes the achievements of the swimmers, promoters, coaches and pilots from 1875 to 1974 from the English Channel to the Canadian National Exhibition events, the book A History of Marathon Swimming is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

2. AKUA Kelp Jerky (USA) by Courtney Boyd Myers
AKUA created its first product, Kelp Jerky, that is part of a new wave of plant-based cuisine made from sustainably harvested ocean seagreens. Kelp Jerky is changing consumer perceptions of eating healthy, delicious seafood by working with the plants that grow just beyond every shoreline in the world. Seaweed farming has the potential to be the most sustainable form of agriculture on the planet - and AKUA is paving the way with its tasty product that includes all types of vitamins, minerals and omegas. Kelp Jerky requires no fresh water, no land, no deforestation, and no feed or fertilizer to grow. For its innovative, out-of-the-box thinking by chefs, creative types, and ocean farmers, for building a new platform to launch healthy food that is good for humans and the planet, for shaping mindsets and transforming palates to enjoy seafood that grows without pesticides or fertilizers, AKUA's Kelp Jerky by Courtney Boyd Myers is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

3. Asociación de Cruce a Nado del Río de la Plata (Argentina) by Lucas Rivet
Cross-border swims like the Strait of Gibraltar (Spain-Morocco), In Search of Memphre (USA-Canada), Xiamen-Kinmen Swimming Competition (China and Taiwan), Beagle Channel (Argentina-Chile), and Strait of Bonifacio (France-Italy) are wonderfully memorable point-to-point swims. These lake and sea swims enable swimmers to achieve a profound connection between one country and another. These swim present a different sort of logistical, operational, linguistic, and cultural obstacles for swimmers and their organizers and escort pilots. Lucas Rivet has crossed all of these barriers with his Asociación de Cruce a Nado del Río de la Plata, a young governing body that organizes and ratifies 42.2 km solo swims across the Río de la Plata between Argentina and Uruguay. For organizing a new difficult marathon swim that is in warm, turbulent waters with a professional, experienced, safety-conscious staff and volunteers, for promoting the crossing with the successful swims of two of the most popular South American swimmers (Pilar Geijo in 9 hours 33 minutes and Damián Blaum in 9 hours 6 minutes), and for commemorating the original course established by Lilian Harrison who crossed in 1923 in 24 hours 19 minutes, the Asociación de Cruce a Nado del Río de la Plata by Lucas Rivet is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

4. ENERGYbits® (USA) by Catharine Arnston
ENERGYbits® helps consumers understand the health, athletic and environmental benefits of algae, the world's most nutrient dense, high protein, plant-based, sustainable food and has been endorsed by the United Nations and World Bank as the answer to world hunger. It has also been endorsed by NASA and scientific organizations as the most natural, safe, pure, eco-friendly food that improves energy, focus, athletic performance, longevity and wellness. ENERGYbits® has brought algae into the Western mainstream where it is desperately needed because the world is toxic, the oceans are polluted, the soil is nutrient deprived, athletes are fuelled with unhealthy sugar, and rates of chronic diseases are skyrocketing. Algae removes toxins, prevents or reverses most chronic disease, is a sustainable crop, and is not only the most nutritionally dense food in the world but also the most scientifically studied food in the world (100,000 studies). For communicating the benefits of algae to consumers, athletes or environmentalists, for creating and providing an alkaline/plant-based nutrition that can help people heal naturally, for its sustainability and eco-friendliness, ENERGYbits® by Catharine Arnston is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

5. Icebears Hintertux (Austria) by Josef Köberl
Josef Köberl, president of the Ice Swimming Association Austria, loves the extreme. He loves the cold and pushing himself and sharing his passion with other like-minded athletes. So he organizes the Austrian Ice Swimming Championships and created the Icebears Hintertux, a 3-day high-altitude glacier training camp that is held in Hintertuxer Gletscher in Austria. The two workouts daily camp offers both extreme ice swim and pool training sessions. For organizing and teaching interested swimmers how to acclimate and train in high-altitude extreme conditions, for safely organizing glacier swims in a uniquely beautiful ice chamber in 0°C water and 0°C air at 3200 meters altitude, and for meeting the needs of channel swimmers and ice swimmers and pushing their physical and mental boundaries, the Icebears Hintertux camp by Josef Köberl is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

6. International Ice Swimming Association World Cup Series (Global) by Ram Barkai
The benefits of cold water swimming has been known for millennia, but it was only in 2009 that the sport of ice swimming was formalized and popularized by Ram Barkai and his South African colleagues. After defining ice swimming as a completion of at least 1 km in 5°C water and creating a ratification process, the International Ice Swimming Association has been rapidly expanding on a hockey stick uptick. Its growth is documented on every parameter: increases in corporation sponsorship, television and media exposure, number of official Ice Miles completed, and professionally-run international competitions. The International Ice Swimming Association World Cup Series is the latest embodiment of growth and popularity. The Series includes several events for newcomers and veterans: 50m butterfly, 100m breaststroke, 200m, 500m and 1 km freestyle races as well as 4 x 50m and 4 x 100m relays. For creating a formalized, global excitement about the sport of ice swimming, for standardizing safety, logistical and operational procedures around the world across cultures and in different languages from Russian and Chinese, Norwegian to Czech, for continuing to enhance the competitive experiences for ice swimmers of all ages and abilities, the International Ice Swimming Association World Cup Series by Ram Barkai is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

7. Marathon Swimming: The Sport of the Soul (USA) by Paul Asmuth
Paul Asmuth competed in 59 professional marathon swimming races and crossed the English Channel three times over a lengthy career that coincided with a successful career as a CPA in California. He won 7 World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation titles and set records from Canada to Italy. As the dominant figure in marathon swimming during the 1980's, he struck fear in the hearts of his competitors. But deep down in his own heart and soul, God played a major role in his success. He describes in Marathon Swimming: The Sport of the Soul how God directed him throughout his life, putting him in the right place and surrounding him with supportive coaches and teammates. For frankly telling his journey with God throughout myriad bodies of water around the world, for retelling his thoughts and actions in several iconic professional marathon swimming races, and sharing his stories of passion, faith and grit, Marathon Swimming: The Sport of the Soul by Paul Asmuth is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

8. Maelstrom Seven (Global) by Wild Swimming Brothers
The Wild Swimming Brothers consistently live up to their name. Non-traditional, out-of-the-box thinkers and doers, the three brothers (Little Brother Jack, Middle Brother Calum, and Big Brother Robbie) do all kinds of wild swimming and have been venturing out to do incredibly risky open water swims in, through and near whirlpools. Similar to marathon swimming’s Oceans Seven and ice swimming’s Ice Sevens, the Hudson Brothers created the Maelstrom Seven. This series of 7 solo swims through, around or near famous whirlpools around the world including Moskstraumen and Saltstraumen in Norway, Corryvreckan in Scotland, Naruto whirlpools in Japan, Te Aumiti in New Zealand, and Old Sow and Skookumchuck in Canada. To date, the brothers have completed swims across the Moskstraumen, Saltstraumen and Corryvreckan and now turn their attention to the Japanese whirlpools of Naruto. For creatively introducing unusual venues to the global open water swimming ecosystem, for developing a new bucket list of swims around the world, and for being such enthusiastic, personable ambassadors of the sport who are developing a unique niche, the Maelstrom Seven by the Wild Swimming Brothers is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

9. Ontberingen van een marathonzwemster / Hardships Of A Marathonswimmer (Netherlands) by Monique Blok-Wildschut
Monique Blok-Wildschut was the greatest professional marathon swimmer of her generation. She was the six-time World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation champion between 1983 and 1988. The longer, the colder, the rougher the conditions, the tougher, the stronger, the faster the Dutch swimmer became. A typical race saw her go head-to-head against the best men in her era including at the Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean in Canada where she placed second overall in the 64 km Traversée in 17 hours 28 minutes. Although she made the swims look easy, her efforts were anything but. Her 2015 autobiography Ontberingen van een marathonzwemster (Rigors of a marathon swimmer) has been translated from Dutch into English and published as Hardships Of A Marathonswimmer. For dramatically retelling her challenges and successes in a 140-page well-written book, for sharing her inner thoughts about her victories and difficulties in both turbulent and tranquil conditions, for remaining a humble, eloquent ambassador of the open water swimming community, Ontberingen van een marathonzwemster / Hardships Of A Marathonswimmer by Monique Blok-Wildschut is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

10. Patagonia Swim (Chile) by Cristian Vergara and Julieta Núñez Gundlach
Patagonia is for the hardened swimmer, extreme athletes who are looking for the ultimate in rough, cold, unpredictable conditions. Patagonia Swim was co-founded and is co-managed by Cristian Vergara and Julieta Nuñez, two extreme athletes who know first-hand what it takes to be safe and successful in swimming in Patagonia at the bottom of the South American continent. The multi-lingual pair provide a unique service that organizes, plans and overseas unprecedented and traditional solo swims in the Beagle Channel, the Straits of Magellan, and Cape Horn while coordinating with the Chilean navy and local governmental authorities. For providing expert swimmer guidance, escort boats, safety, and logistical support in some of the world's most risky open water swims, for promoting interest in Patagonia swimming and extreme swimming in South America, and for observing and authenticating official swims by swimmers of all ages and abilities, Patagonia Swim by Cristian Vergara and Julieta Núñez Gundlach is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

11. St. Lucia Channel Swim (St. Lucia & Martinique) by Sue Dyson and Nathaniel Waring
Whether a channel swim is 32.3 km (Catalina Channel), 33.8 km (English Channel), or 35 km (North Channel), any crossing over 30 km represents an epic distance and presents all kinds of challenges from currents and jellyfish to winds and waves. Nathaniel Waring, Sue Dyson and their colleagues on St. Lucia in the Caribbean Sea have organized a new warm-water channel swim for channel swimmers of all ages and abilities around the world. The 33.5 km (20.8-mile) between the island of St. Lucia in the south and the island of Martinique in the north in the Eastern Caribbean Sea’s Windward Islands that can be attempted year-round in addition to a race held in July that includes 1 km, 3 km and 5 km races and clinics. For creating a warm-water (25°C - 26°C) channel swim between volcanic islands with beautiful green mountains with Atlantic Ocean swells with dynamic conditions, for organizing an international event co-hosted by the Ministry of Tourism and the Department of Youth & Sports, and for establishing a swim that can become a warm water crossing that attracts top open water swimmers from around the world, the St. Lucia Channel Swim between St. Lucia and Martinique by Sue Dyson and Nathaniel Waring is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

12. Tahiti Swimming Experience (Tahiti) by Stéphane Debaere & Tahitian Swimming Federation
Stéphane Debaere’s roots are in Tahiti, where he created in collaboration with the Tahitian Swimming Federation, the Tahiti Swimming Experience, of which he is the godfather. The 7-day ocean swimming event combines various short relay swims with 2 km, 2.5 km, 5 km and 10 km coastal swim in both Tahiti and Mo'orea in French Polynesia. Local beginner swimmers, renowned Olympic medalists and veteran world champions join together to enjoy a number of different ocean courses in Tahiti's water that is literally a living aquarium. Olympic coaches including Philippe Lucas and Stéphane Lecat lend their expertise over a week in Tahiti and Mo'orea where cultural events and marine conservation projects are also available when swimming races are not held. For introducing a world-class open water extravaganza to the South Pacific islands of Tahiti and Mo'orea, for offering one of the world's most gorgeous ocean swims in warm, tropical waters, for enabling swimmers to preserve coral gardens by adopting a coral and participate in safeguarding Tahiti's coral, the Tahiti Swimming Experience by Stéphane Debaere & Tahitian Swimming Federation is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

13. Take Your Dream (Australia) by Eric, Hunter and Tuck Helmick
American firefighter Eric Helmick and his two son, Hunter and Tuck, took on the challenge of a self-sustained stage swim down Australia’s longest river, the River Murray, a distance of over 2,400 km to order to inspire youth. Their Team Help! journey began in the Snowy Mountains and ended 120 days later in South Australia and the Southern Ocean. They captured the attention of everyone they met along the way and documented their adventures and achievements in a documentary filmed titled Take Your Dream. For doing something epic to inspire people and serve as a catalyst for transformation, for meeting locals and schools along their stage swim and encouraging them to believe in themselves, and producing a film to share with others, Take Your Dream by Eric, Hunter and Tuck Helmick is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

14. TOWER 26 (USA) by Gerry Rodrigues
Tower 26 is a lifeguard station in Santa Monica, California. Gerry Rodrigues combined this local gathering place for triathletes with his deep knowledge of open water swimming to create the TOWER 26 team and brand from Pacific Palisades in Southern California. Rodrigues, a masters world open water swimming champion, has fashioned a lifestyle and knowledge-base that has taken the triathlon world by storm. TOWER 26 also produced over 60 "Be Race Ready" podcasts that have been downloaded over 680,000 times. Rodrigues and co-host Jim Lubinski, cover all aspects of triathlon swimming, training and race preparation for triathletes who represent the largest demographic group in the open water swimming community. For sharing innumerable tips and approximately 40 hours of free advice via the "Be Race Ready" podcast - the world’s most popular triathlon swimming podcast, for shaping a simple lifeguard station into a globally-known brand, for tirelessly and passionately coaching over 1,000 swimmers and triathletes monthly, Tower 26 by Gerry Rodrigues is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

15. Waikiki Roughwater Swim DIY Swim Certificate (Hawaii) by Michael Rök & Jim Cotton
The Waikiki Roughwater Swim has been attracting many Olympic swimmers, fast master swimmers, and all kinds of recreational swimmers to Honolulu, Hawaii since 1970. Starting next to the Diamond Head volcano and stretching across one of the world's most famous beaches, 33,881 swimmers have completed the 2.4-mile Waikiki Roughwater Swim. Swimmers from 25 countries come back every year to the middle of the Pacific in order experience the beauty and competitiveness of the race where 11 swimmers have completed the race more than 30 times. Swimmers can log in, automatically find, and print out their own swim completion certificates in their home or office. The official certificates and database - created by Jim Cotton and developed by Michael Rök - includes their official time and overall and age-group placing. It is a convenient, immediate way to document and confirm one's performance relative to the thousands of others who have done the iconic swim. For making an easy-to-use, automated service, for uploading and archiving every single finisher and their times and placing for historical purposes, and for continuing to add new features and services to one of the world's best oceans swims, the Waikiki Roughwater Swim DIY Swim Certificate program by Jim Cotton and Michael Rök is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

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