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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sandra Bucha Stands Out And Stands Tall

In the world of professional marathon swimming, four women have stood out among their male counterparts. Greta Andersen went goggle-to-goggle with her male rivals in the 1950s and 1960s, often winning and proving herself the greatest of all. Judith van Berkel-de Njis was similar, winning over men and women at the 1964 31-mile Lake Ontario swim in Canada, the 1965 19-mile Lake Ohrid race in Macedonia, the 1965 and 1967 20-mile Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli in Italy, the 1965 40K (25-mile) Alexandrium race in Egypt, the 1966 20-mile Traversée internationale du Lac St-Jean in 8 hours in Canada, the 1967 10-mile Hamilton race in Canada, and the 1968 Canalswim Cape Rennes from France to Dover, England.

Shelley Taylor-Smith won the 1991 world professional marathon swimming circuit, outpointing her male rivals that was the catalyst to having separate male and female cash prizes.

These three women have been inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame with Greta and Shelley having been also honored by the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1969 and 2008 respectively.

But there is also a fourth gender-bender, a pioneering young woman, Sandra Bucha in the 1970s, who competed well against the top men of her era throughout her short-lived professional career. Sandra was a star throughout her swimming career. Ever smiling and hard working, she appeared on the cover of Swimming World Magazine as a promising age-group pool swimmer and enjoyed an outstanding three-year career as a professional marathon swimmer while studying history as an undergraduate student at Stanford University.

Between her formative years as a young swimmer and before her college career, she and her father, Colonel Paul Bucha Sr., filed a lawsuit against the Illinois High School Federation based on sex discrimination. Their lawsuit went to the Illinois Supreme Court that ultimately ruled that girls deserved equal opportunities to compete in competitive sports on the same level as high school boys. This lawsuit, which was an early precursor to Sandra’s later legal career as prosecutor, public defender and personal injury attorney, resulted in the state of Illinois offering separate competitive sports programs for girls.

While Greta's male nemesis was Egyptian Abdul Latif Abou-Heif in the 1960s and Shelley's was Argentinian Diego Degano in the 1990s, Sandra's rival was her own American teammate, one of the fastest and most prolific marathon swimmers of all time, Olympic gold medalist John Kinsella.

Both distance swimmers got into marathon swimming after the 1972 Munich Olympics. While John won a gold medal in Munich to add to his 1968 Olympic silver medal, Sandra’s pool swimming career came crushingly to an end when she missed the U.S. Olympic Team by a mere 7 tenths of a second in the 100-meter freestyle.

But in an era when collegiate swimming was not the option that it currently is for women, Sandra took to the open water. Based on her successful pool swimming career where she once set an American record in the 200-meter freestyle and her 1971 national championship in the open water, Sandra set off on an unprecedented marathon swimming career. Her first swim was the 1973 10-mile Chicago Lake Front race as part of the Chicago Lakefront Festival in Lake Michigan where she placed second overall finishing only a minute behind Johann “The Flying Dutchman” Schans of the Netherlands. She won US$3,000 while setting a record for women as a college freshman.

I decided after the Olympic Trials that I was not going to swim anymore. School comes first.” But after reading an invitation to the Chicago Lake Front race, she contacted her old coach. "I couldn’t do anything without him. He’s always been my coach." By her sophomore year, she picked up the pace during her summer vacation.

She finished second overall again at the 1974 Chicago Lake Front pro race, winning a bonus of US$1,000 for being the first woman in 3 hours 47 minutes. Completing the 20-loop ½-mile course in 3 hours 41 minutes, she won US$2,000 in the wake of John Kinsella’s victory. She then teamed up with John at the 24-hour <24 Heures La Tuque race, swimming 100 loops to John’s 94 for a world record of 194 laps or nearly 65 miles. After that memorable race over the second-place team of Johan Schans and Claudio Plit, she traveled to lac St-Jean to compete in the 1974 Traversee internationale du lac St-Jean where she finished third overall in 8 hours 19 minutes to John (1st) and Rogosiv Veljko (2nd). From there, she and John went to the professional 10-miler in Laval, Quebec where the Hinsdale duo went 1-2 in 3 hours 40 minutes and 3 hours 49 minutes respectively. The Canadian’s press gushed over the Stanford co-ed, "Crowds lined the banks to cheer on the fetching Miss Bucha who out-swims the men wherever she goes."

Back to Stanford for her junior year, Sandra returned to the 1975 professional marathon swimming season once summer came around. But just as summer returned, so did the indomitable Kinsella. Starting the season in Lake Michigan, Sandra finished second overall in the 10-mile pro marathon, again to her Indiana teammate. From there, she joined forces again with John at the 1975 La Tuque 24-hour swim. John, who could have teamed up with anyone in the world, knew his best shot to set a world record in Lac Louis at the La Tuque race was with Sandra. 24 hours later, the duo won again going away. From there, she traveled to lac St-Jean for the second year in a row and finished second overall again to John, winning US$4,000 for her 8 hour 15 minute effort. The same finish resulted in Laval for the second consecutive year in her final pro swim of her career.

Both coached by renowned American coach Don Watson, Sandra had to swim against her larger and more famous teammate throughout her professional career, mano-a-mano. Coach Watson pointed out, "If John were not of her era, she would have won five professional marathon swims outright." But in partnership with the juggernaut from Hinsdale, Sandra and John twice won the 24 Heures La Tuque, the incomparable non-stop relay that showcased the ultimate one-two punch from Hinsdale.

During her short career of 3 seasons sandwiched between 9 months of intense academic work at Stanford, Sandra wanted to see women separated from the men as long as the purses are equal, but that dream would not come for nearly two decades. With a promising legal career beckoning, she called it a career and focused on her studies, ending her remarkable 9-swim career with 9 wins among the women and 6 overall second places.

Her performance was acknowledged by former FINA president Dr. Harold Henning, a significant nod to her talents as FINA was still 18 years away from absorbing the professional marathon swimming circuit. "I congratulate you upon your performance in the lake swim. I am very happy that you brought home the bacon." That she did, a remarkable professional career from a role model student-athlete.

Cover shot of the December 1969 issue courtesy of Swimming World Magazine.

Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source

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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

5:30

PM


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

9:00

AM


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

10:00

AM


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

10:20

AM


Christopher Guesdon (Australia) on Multidimensional Roles In The Sport

10:30

AM


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

10:50

AM


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

11:10

AM


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

11:30

AM


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)

12:30

PM


Coffee and Break

1:00

PM


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]


2:30

PM


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

2:50

PM


Sally Minty-Gravett (Jersey) on Motivating Swimmers

3:10

PM


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

3:30

PM


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

3:50

PM


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

5:00

PM


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]

6:30

PM


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

6:45

PM


Dinner

7:30

PM


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

9:00

AM


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

10:00

AM


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

10:20

AM


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

10:40

AM


Ned Denison (Ireland) on Swimming The World

11:00

AM


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

11:20

AM


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

12:00

PM


Survey distribution and group photo-taking

2:00

PM


Swim at Stravvana Bay, Isle of Bute






CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE

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

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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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