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Saturday, September 3, 2011

In A Blink Of An Eye - Accident In Maui Channel Swim

Reports from yesterday's Maui Channel Swim from the Oak Streakers tell of a very unfortunate accident where a boater, passing through swimmers towards the end of the 9.6-mile race, hit John Caughlin. The 41-year-old swimmer from Half Moon Bay (California) who does a number of swims in California and Hawaii had been training all year for the challenging 9.6-mile as a solo swimmer.

Swimming partner Mike Mitchell was right next to him when it happened and saw the accident. He told friends that John was sucked under the boat and when held up his hand, there was nothing left but skin. Other witnesses reported that the 28-foot boat was in the way of swimmers and then made a sudden turn and hit John.

John was taken by Jet ski to shore and underwent surgery for eight hours at Maui Memorial Hospital. According to the latest reports from the hospital, the attending physician said John's right arm just above the elbow had to be amputated due to severe vascular damage and his left hand was reattached, but his thumb and index finger are gone.

The Maui Police Department confirmed the Coast Guard, Maui Police Department and the Department of Land and Natural Resources were investigating the matter.

FOR UPDATES, click here.

Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source


  1. Thank you for your great information. My heart and prayers go out to this solo swimmer. Why was the boater even there during this swim? I understand the relay teams require boats, but other boaters (non-competitors) should have been held up for the duration of the race to avoid such an accident.

  2. I remember at last year's event, the boat of one of the first two finishing teams went up the chute to land on the beach. What is up with the organizers of this event to allow a swimmer under their protection to be maimed by a blatent disregard of the rules??? I am sick by the thought of the impact this negligence will have on this man's life.

  3. Thank you for the information. As a friend of the injured swimmer, we've been desperate for detailed information and you are the only news source that explained exactly what happened and the extent of his injuries. Obviously, all of us are stunned and devastated. When the shock wears off, there's going to be a call for answers. Those responsible must be held accountable.

  4. hearts and prays go out to John. John is a great endurance athlete who has biked across the USA in addition to his open water swimming. I pray that I will see him on the bike and in the water again.

  5. Our thoughts are with John as well, it was a terrible accident. To the comment above saying that the organisers allowed this to happen, please get your facts straight. Following the breach by the second place team last year the organisers rewrote the rules on this point and brought this to the attention of all the entrants. Throughout the whole race were enforcing the exclusion zone. The organisers had identified the boat that was involved as it neared the no go zone, they issued several warnings to the boat over the open channel which everyone heard. The simple fact is that the boat captain was aware of the exclusion zone, he put his boat in an area outside of the zone, and then proceeded to leave the helm. Whilst the captain was not at the helm, the boat was carried by a current into the zone, and in a shocking turn of events the captain rushed back to the helm, did not look around him despite the fact the organisers were repeatedly stating that there were swimmers all around the boat, and he engaged his engine and accelerated off. The organisers of this event put in place a safety plan in response to the incident last year, and they were policing it. Don't jump to conclusions on what or why it happened without knowing the facts.

  6. Dear Anonymous, our sources were either in the water very close to the accident or on a boat witnessing the accident. We have no doubt o the veracity of their recollections and stand by our article above. Throughout the world of open water swimming, close calls and accidents happen year in and year out. It is every swimmer, race director and pilot's nightmare scenario. What was the incident last year? Was there also a close call in 2010?

  7. Steve, your article was correct - no questions about that. My comments relate to the kneejerk reaction to blame the organisers by the blogger above. The incident last year was the second place team's boat beaching at the finish shute in the exclusion zone.

  8. I understand and appreciate everyone's concern. And I know there is a lot of anger and blame to go around, but now is not the time. John would not want any anger right now. He is one of those bright lights, and all he needs now is everyone's positive energy to keep the bright light going. He is doing remarkably well and his spirits are high. He is even walking around. He was more concerned about his swimming partners vacation being ruined than his own injury. That's the kind of human being John is. As angry as you might be, please keep this positive, that's what John needs and wants. Thanks everyone for your concern. Tom Reudy (John's Coach) - San Mateo Masters

  9. As much as I can tell from the above, there is no doubt that John is making the most of a really bad situation. However, my question is relatively simple: Why don't the boats who are accompanying swimmers have a jet drive, or at the least a tunnel drive for their propulsion??? I know that they feel much more comfortable with propellers in the open ocean, but this type of accident occurs much too often.

  10. I swam last year's race, my husband captained our boat as an escort. We know many who swam this year's race. Ian and Coco have organized this race for years with no major incidents, luckily. Thus there hasn't been a huge push for better organization. The life guards on jet skis are always amazing and generally the boat and swim captains communicate and watch out for each other.

    Hopefully, after this years race and last year's Molokai Hoe, where Luke Evslin was cut from back to mid thigh when his escort boat washed over him, prop guards will be considered or required.

    I think better coordination and knowledge of the boat captains and crew for swimmers and race directors is important and it should be mandatory to have a least 2 crew so the escort can: 1) Always have a spotter on the swimmers and 2)Always have someone capable at the helm/radio. In addition, there were reports that the captain of the sunken boat left his passengers in the water and swam to another boat? What is that? Everyone was rescued - but that is nuts, there were children on board.

    Our best to John for a speedy recovery.

  11. I was a solo swimmer in this years event and wish John the best through his recovery. I think the speculation and cause should wait for an official announcement based on all of the facts. It is easy to speculate.

    With that said, I will say I thought race safety could improve at the start of the swim. We had 90 boats looking for swimmers within 400 meters. A larger parameter for boats to engage their respective swimmers is suggested for additional safety. Perhaps something in the 1500 meter range allowing swimmers to spread out.

  12. I agree with the last posting -- that safety needs to be reviewed for this race comprehensively. An accident that is as preventable as this is beyond a shame, and it's time to significantly change the safety profile of this race. Some ideas:
    1. Staggered start with relays and individuals in two groups instead of one overwhelmingly large group. Establish limited entries.
    2. Mandatory meeting for boat captains.
    3. Boat safety checks - several boats did NOT have anchors and ropes, as evidenced by the boat stuck on the reef at the start. I am not sure why the boat at the finish did not anchor safely away. Make sure all radios are operational.
    4. More safety boats. The three jetskis were great, but not enough for the scale of this race. There should also be a race boat out there to help pick up swimmers in an emergency, such as the sinking of boats that happened this year.
    5. Enforcing the safety area at the finish with an actual presence on the water, not just relying on the radio. More buoys could also be placed ahead of the 'no go area' to make it more obvious.
    6. An annual summary of incidents should be posted so that all can learn from the mistakes of the past.

  13. so easy looking back now, but if an escort boat entered the "no entry zone" for boats, why not simply shut down and turn off the engine, since that was an area where finishing swimmers were entering. the command should have been given. the final outcome of rectifying the situation, would have been a lot better overall than was the real one that unfolded.

  14. Any updates on the investigation?

  15. Yes, an update is posted here: http://www.dailynewsofopenwaterswimming.com/2011/09/in-blink-of-eye-accident-update-in-maui.html

  16. My heart is heavy for John and his family. I pray that soon he will be healed enough to get back into athletics and volunteer work.

  17. John's Blog

  18. John, we haven't met but we are kindred spirits, as I have also done a few MCSs and soloed in past years, and lived in HMB in the '90s. I was in Maui last week and as an alum, inquired about this year's race. I was deeply saddened and shocked to learn of your tragic injuries and I hope and pray that you, with your strong spirit, attitude and courage will make a great recovery. Hope you know that so many of us, swimmers and non-, friends and strangers, are pulling for you as you face the challenges ahead.
    Heartfelt best wishes.


Thank you very much for your interest in the world of open water swimming.

The Staff of the World Open Water Swimming Association

2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference

Learn more...
Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference Agenda

Friday, 19 September



Welcome Reception at Mount Stuart House, Isle of Bute, Scotland

Documentary films shown throughout the reception:

Blue Journey-Amerika Samoa – Stronger Together: The Waterman’s Way
(film by Bruckner Chase)

Dancing With The Water, Crossing of Lake Pontchartrain
(film by Wayne Ewing about Matthew Moseley's Lake Pontchartrain crossing)

Bering Strait Swim Chukotka - Alaska
(film by Admiral Konstantin Sidenko about the relay between Russia and Alaska)

The Clean Swim – Hong Kong to Macau
(film about Simon Holiday's Pearl River Delta crossing)

Saturday, 20 September



Registration and Coffee at Mount Stuart House, Isle of Bute, Scotland



Keynote Speech:
Colleen Blair (Scotland) on The History of Scottish Swimming



Christopher Guesdon (Australia) on Multidimensional Roles In The Sport



Colin Hill (England) on Recent Explosion in UK Open Water



Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia) on The Feminine Code of Achievement - How a Lady from Down Under Revolutionized Professional Marathon Swimming



Simon Murie (England) on Open Water Swimming Holidays: How A New Sector Was Created Within The Travel Industry



Swimming The Oceans Seven
A round table discussion moderated by:
Kevin Murphy (England), with Stephen Redmond (Ireland), Anna-Carin Nordin (Sweden),
Darren Miller (USA), Adam Walker (England), Kimberley Chambers (New Zealand)



Coffee and Break



World Open Water Swimming Awards Luncheon:
with co-hosts Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia) and Steven Munatones (USA)

Pádraig Mallon (Ireland), 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year

Olga Kozydub (Russia), 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year

Bering Strait Swim, 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year

Honoring: Vladimir Chegorin, Maria Chizhova, Elena Guseva, Ram Barkai, Jack Bright, Oksana Veklich, Aleksandr Jakovlevs, Matías Ola, Henri Kaarma, Toomas Haggi, Nuala Moore, Anne Marie Ward, Toks Viviers, Melissa O’Reilly, Ryan Stramrood, Cristian Vergara, Craig Lenning, Rafal Ziobro, Andrew Chin, Jackie Cobell, James Pittar, Paolo Chiarino, Mariia Yrjö-Koskinen, Ivan Papulshenko, Zdenek Tlamicha, Zhou Hanming, Oleg Adamov, Andrei Agarkov, Alekseev Semen, Tatiana Alexandrova, Roman Belan, Elena Semenova, Alexander Brylin, Afanasii Diackovskii, Vladimir Nefatov, Evgenii Dokuchaev, Oleg Docuckaev, Roman Efimov, Dmitrii Filitovich, Olga Filitovich, Victor Godlevskiy, Olga Golubeva, Alexei Golubkin, Alexander Golubkin, Alexandr Iurkov, Oleg Ivanov, Pavel Kabakov, Eduard Khodakovskiy, Aleksandr Komarov, Aleksandr Kuliapin, Andrey Kuzmin, Irina Lamkina, Vladimir Litvinov, Andrey Mikhalev, Victor Moskvin, Nikolay Petshak, Sergey Popov, Vladimir Poshivailov, Grigorii Prokopchuk, Dmitrii Zalka, Natalia Seraya, Viacheslav Shaposhnikov, Olga Sokolova, Andrei Sychev, Alexei Tabakov, and Nataliia Usachaeva [represented by Admiral Konstantin Sidenko and Nuala Moore]



Alexey Salmin Pavlovich (Russia) and Dmitry Dragozhilov (Russia)
on the 2016 Winter Swimming World Championships [film]



Sally Minty-Gravett (Jersey) on Motivating Swimmers



Dmitry Blokhin (Russia) and Aleksei Veller (Russia)
on the First World Ice Swimming Championships [film]



Matthew Moseley (USA)’s Dancing With The Water, Crossing of Lake Pontchartrain [film]



Simon Holliday (England) and Doug Woodring (Hong Kong)’s The Clean Swim – Hong Kong to Macau 2014 [film]



International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF)
and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (IMSHOF)

IMSHOF Induction Ceremonies and Dinner
with co-hosts Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia) and Steven Munatones (USA).

Recognition of International Swimming Hall of Fame honorees:

  • Elizabeth Fry (USA), IMSHOF Honour Swimmer

  • Vojislav Mijić (Serbia), IMSHOF Honour Swimmer

  • James Anderson (USA), IMSHOF Honour Administrator

  • Dr. Jane Katz (USA), IMSHOF Honour Administrator

  • Indonesian Swimming Federation Open Water Committee (Indonesia), IMSHOF Honour Organisation

  • Melissa Cunningham (Australia), Irving Davids – Captain Roger Wheeler Award by the International Swimming Hall of Fame and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer

  • Sandra Bucha (USA), ISHOF Honor Open Water Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer

  • Jon Erikson (USA), ISHOF Honor Open Water Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer [represented by Sandra Bucha]



International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) Introduction Video.
Welcome speech by host Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia)






International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF)
Induction Ceremonies and Dinner with host Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia)

Recognition of International Swimming Hall of Fame honorees:

  • Mercedes Gleitze (England)
    ISHOF Honor Pioneer Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer
    [represented by daughter Doloranda Pember]

  • Dale Petranech (USA)
    ISHOF Honor Contributer and IMSHOF Honour Administrator

  • Claudio Plit (Argentina)
    ISHOF Honor Open Water Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer
    [represented by Shelley Taylor-Smith]

  • Judith van Berkel-de Nijs (Netherlands)
    ISHOF Honor Open Water Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer
    [represented by Niek Kloots]

  • George Young (Canada)
    ISHOF Honor Pioneer Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer
    [represented by the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation]

  • David Yudovin (USA)
    ISHOF Honor Open Water Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer

Sunday, 21 September



Registration and coffee at Mount Stuart House, Isle of Bute, Scotland



Nuala Moore (Ireland) on The Mindset of 1000m at 0ºC



Admiral Konstantin Sidenko (Russia)’s Bering Strait Swim Chukotka - Alaska in 2013 [film]



Ned Denison (Ireland) on Swimming The World



Bruckner Chase (USA)’s Blue Journey-Amerika Samoa
Stronger Together: The Waterman’s Way



Rok Kerin (Slovenia) on Lifestyle Benefits From Open Water Swimming



Survey distribution and group photo-taking



Swim at Stravvana Bay, Isle of Bute


The Global Open Water Swimming Conference is a conference on the sport of open water swimming, marathon swimming and swimming during triathlons and multi-sport endurance events.

The conference which has been attended by enthusiasts and luminaries from 6 continents, is devoted to providing information about the latest trends, race tactics, training techniques, equipment, psychological preparation, race organization and safety practices used in the sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons.

The conference's mission is to provide opportunities to listen and meet many of the world's most foremost experts in open water swimming, and to meet and discuss the sport among swimmers, coaches, administrators, event organizers, sponsors, vendors, officials, escort pilots, and volunteers from kayakers to safety personnel.

Dozens of presentations at the 2014 Conference at the Mount Stuart House cover numerous aspects of the vast and growing world of open water swimming where attendees can learn and share the latest trends, race tactics, training modalities, swimming techniques, equipment, race organization, logistics, operations, and safety practices for open water swimming as a solo swimmer, competitive athlete, fitness swimmer, masters swimmer, triathlete, multi-sport athlete, administrator, race promoter, sponsor or referee.

The conference was first held in Long Beach, California as part of the 2010 USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Championships. It has since been held on the Queen Mary in California, at Columbia University and the United Nations in New York City, and in Cork, Ireland. This year in September, it comes to another iconic location, the Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.

"The Global Open Water Swimming Conference was started due to the desire and need for athletes, coaches, referees, administrators, race directors, promoters and sponsors from around the world to share, collect and learn information about the growing sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons," said founder Steven Munatones. "Other swimming conferences usually offering nothing on open water swimming or perhaps a speech or two, but we thought open water swimming deserves its own global conference. It is great that the community shares its information via the online social network, but there is nothing like meeting other open water swimming enthusiasts face-to-face and talking about the sport from morning to night."

Speakers at the conference include English Channel swimmers, ice swimmers, record holders, renowned coaches, world champions, professional marathon swimmers, renowned race directors, officials and administrators from the Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

"Because the audience is passionate and educated about the sport and its finest practitioners, the Global Open Water Swimming Conference is also the location of the induction ceremonies for the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and the annual WOWSA Awards that recognize the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year, and the World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year. Special Lifetime Achievement Awards are also occasionally presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the sport over their career."

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

A Thank You Gift from WOWSA

WOWSA is celebrating the
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by giving you a free copy of the anniversary issue.

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Open Water Swimming Magazine

Open Water Swimming Magazine

The Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.

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The Other Shore

The Other Shore follows world record holder and legendary swimmer Diana Nyad as she comes out of a thirty-year retirement to re-attempt an elusive dream: swimming 103 miles non-stop from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage. Her past and present collide in her obsession with a feat that nobody has ever accomplished. At the edge of The Devil’s Triangle, tropical storms, sharks, venomous jellyfish, and one of the strongest ocean currents in the world, all prove to be life-threatening realities. Timothy Wheeler’s documentary brings Diana Nyad’s extraordinary adventure to life as Diana sets out to prove that will and determination are all you need to make the unimaginable possible.

2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac

An Almanac for Open Water Swimming

An almanac is essentially a body of knowledge which is so complete that it enables people in different fields to make predictions about the future of their respective industries.

This, for example, was the purpose of the traditional farmers almanacs. It enabled farmers to determine as accurately as possible which crops to plant for the greatest harvests in a given year.

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