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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

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

The following update has been reviewed and approved by John Caughlin and his family. Anyone wishing to offer support for John in any way can do so via a PayPal address as well as the home address for John’s sister in Encinitas, Californnia where John will begin his recovery from this terrible tragedy.

Dear Maui Channel Swimmers,

Thank you all for participating in the 2011 Maui Channel Swim. The conditions this year were certainly challenging and made for an exciting but difficult swim. We saw exceptional endurance, adventure, and achievement, but this year we also saw tragedy.

John Caughlin, one of our solo swimmers making the crossing, was hit by a boat as he was approaching the finish line. Lifeguards on Jet skis were immediately on the scene to rescue and provide emergency treatment for John, but the boat propeller had caused horrific injuries to both arms, and he was rushed to Maui Memorial Hospital.

Despite heroic efforts in an 11-hour operation, the surgeons were unable to salvage John's right arm and it was removed above the elbow. The left arm was reconstructed; however there was extensive damage to the left hand. John's left index finger, thumb, and a portion of the hand had been traumatically amputated by the propeller.

The remaining three fingers sustained multiple fractures and severe lacerations. Just 4 days after the incident, John underwent another surgery to reconstruct what remains of his left hand. Additional surgical procedures and grafts will be needed to continue the reconstruction. John will remain hospitalized in Maui for another week and will then have the opportunity to return to California for continued treatment.

Without the use of either of his hands, John will require 24/7 care for quite some time, and has a long, hard recovery ahead of him including surgeries and rehabilitation over the next twelve months and beyond.

This was John's third Maui Channel Swim and his first solo. He has participated in many challenging open water events both in California and Hawaii. Anyone who knows John personally, will tell you what an uncomplaining, determined and generous spirit he has. It is people like John that make us all proud to be a part of the open water swimming community.

We know that many of you want to reach out to John and support him during his recovery. For those who would like to make a monetary contribution, a Pay Pal account has been set up in John's name and can be accessed here.

Cards and letters of encouragement can be sent in care of his sister, Jennifer Dorsey at: 1210 Green Orchard Place, Encinitas, CA 92024, U.S.A. For those who would like to offer other assistance, all support is welcome.

John has enormous challenges ahead. We want to support him in meeting these challenges. We look forward to sending out news of John's recovery and healing. In the meantime, we send our prayers.

We are sending this letter out to the Swim Team Captains, as that is the only email we have on the application. We ask that each team captain send this letter to every member of his/her team and to their boat captain if possible.


Ian Emberson, Race Director
Coco Emberson

Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source


  1. Steven, are there any updates into the investigation of the person who hit John? Who? Prosecuted? ...


  2. John is an AWESOME person. So happy there is a venue to make a positive contribution rather than focusing on the negative (prosecution and law suits)

  3. I don;t know John - I don't do open water swims, but I do still think of myself as a swimmer and can't imagine the pain, physical & emotional that he is going through. Because he is an awesome athlete I know he will fight to recover his life. I'll send all my possible energy to him to help his fight.

  4. John...there are lots of people thinking about you...i have thought about you often since your accident. we will be rooting for you my friend...

  5. John, I don't know you, but I know the ows community in nyc is a family who embraces anyone in need without question or pause. Sending heartfelt encouragement to help you through. Let us know what we can do as things come up ~ we'll be here for you.

  6. Hi Steve,
    Let me ask you to consider editing comments, or even not posting them if the comment pertains to blame, lawsuits, prosecutions. I believe you have the right to do just that.

    Once the actual events are known, (they are not other than by John, maybe Mike Mitchell), I think it appropriate to post as you see fit. My take is there are some real clowns out there just interested in revenge and blame, not facts, and not even positive reinforcements here. The facts are not known by anyone here in Cyberland, rumor and gossip should not be allowed at any time.

  7. John is a brilliant guy. As long as he is able to use his incredible and complex brain, he will make a difference in the world. He is a true giver and is loved by many many people. I hope more and more of you get to know this man. John comes from an amazing and loving family. John has been injured severely before, involving him on a bike and a car. He had many months of recovering and after almost losing his leg, He was able to ride his bike cross country. He is indeed and athlete's athlete. He's tough, active and strong. It's now time for his brain to take him to his next level.
    John please know we are praying for you in California and while we mourn the losses you have endured, we also know that you will reinvent yourself and will continue to amaze us. You are loved and hope you are feeling better every day.

  8. I had hoped my eyes had deceived me when I saw the accident. I can't stop wondering how John is doing. From the sounds of it, he is a man of great determination and integrity. I hope to see more updates as he is released from the hospital and through his recovery. Thoughts and prayers to John from our family.

  9. It's perfectly appropriate for people to be curious about the investigation of this horrible accident. It's not about blame...it's about feeling helpless and concerned about John and hoping that justice is served. I suspect it will be some time until the investigation is complete and there is a full accounting of facts, but it's not ghoulish to be curious about how it's proceeding and I hope that the comment section is not edited to remove those particular posts. That said, of course the priority is sending John and his family all the love and support and prayers and positive energy that we can. He's an exceptional man--he was before the accident and still is.

  10. John is an amazing guy with a true spirit. He loves open water swimming and he loves the other swimmers that love it also. In some ways it's too bad that Hawaii loves the "hang loose" attitude over the people and activities that they do- it seems we will never be given a real "report" on the facts of this accident by the "experts" and it seems that there is no prosecution in Hawaii for idiots that do things which would be "illegal" in other states- like running over swimmers with power boats....

  11. If you are not already following John's blog, here it is http://lifeafter615.blogspot.com/
    I speak to him weekly and he is doing great!


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.


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."

The 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference Programme

Wednesday, September 17th
Leave Glasgow to commence 2-day tour of Scotland [closest international airport is Glasgow]

Thursday, September 18th
Stay Mainland, North of Scotland

Friday, September 19th
14:00 - Swim Loch Lomond
17:00 - Head to Isle of Bute
19:30 - Scottish Banquet
21:30 - Dinner Dance

Saturday, September 20th
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
12:20 - Lunch and WOWSA Awards
13:40 – Speeches
15:40 - Round Table
19:00 - International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Dinner & Induction Ceremony

Sunday, September 21st
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
14:30 - Swim in St Ninian's Bay on the Isle of Bute

The luminaries of the open water swimming world who will be honored in Scotland will include:

* Sandra Bucha (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Jon Erikson (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Claudio Plit (Argentina), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Judith van Berkel-de Njis (Netherlands), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* David Yudovin (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Mercedes Gleitze (Great Britain), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* George Young (Canada), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Dale Petranech (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Contributor
* Melissa Cunningham (Australia), 2013 Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award winner
* Vojislav Mijić (Serbia), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* James Anderson (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Dr. Jane Katz (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Indonesian Swimming Federation, , International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Organisation
* Elizabeth Fry (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Pádraig Mallon (Ireland), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year
* Olga Kozydub (Russia), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year
* Bering Strait Swim (international team), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year
* International Ice Swimming Association (Ram Barkai, founder, South Africa), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year

For additional articles on the 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference, visit:

* Olga Kozydub To Be Honored In Scotland
* Pádraig Mallon To Be Honored In Mount Stuart Castle
* Mount Stuart House, Splendid Setting For Swimming
* Colleen Blair To Kick-off Global Open Water Swimming Conference
* The Man Who Swims Better Than He Walks
* Joining In The Sea Goddess At The Hall Of Fame
* Mercedes Gleitze To Be Honored In Scotland
* The Incredible Career Of Merceded Gleitze
* Jon Erikson To Be Honoured In Florida
* The Incredible Career Of Mercedes Gleitze
* St Ninian's Bay To Host International Swim Conference

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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Open Water Swimming Event Sanctioning

World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation

Open Water Race Calendar

Coaches Education Program