2018 WOWSA Woman of the Year Nominees

Cutoff Date and Time for Voting is January 1, 2019 at 12:00 am (California time)


Vote in All Four Categories

The World Open Water Swimming Association is pleased to present the 2016 WOWSA Award Nominees.
The nominees are presented in the following four categories:


Please Note:
Official results will be announced on January 1, 2019 at The Daily News of Open Water Swimming.

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.

 

Vote in All Four Categories

The World Open Water Swimming Association is pleased to present the 2018 WOWSA Award Nominees.
The nominees are presented in the following four categories:


All nominees will be featured in the Open Water Swimming Magazine



WOWSA Members gain access to the Open Water Swimming Magazine

 

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