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Friday, March 30, 2012
When Open Water Worlds Collide, Magic Happens
They emailed Nejib and Facebooked him.
One thing led to another and now the two open water swimmers from Ireland are enjoying a unique experience in Tunisia. In their own words, this is their story.
Open Water Source: How did you get about getting to Tunisia?
Nuala: Our interest mainly stemmed from the Dove of Peace experience we enjoyed in New York City at the Global Open Water Swimming Conference last year [where Nejib arranged for a dove symbolizing peace to be let go by an international group of open water swimmers]. What it meant mainly was curiosity and then a follow-up email from Nejib to thank Anne Marie for her involvement.
Then we watched things develop. We gradually developed a great admiration for what Nejib is doing at 61 years old. I suppose our personal discussion centered around his need for support and energy. We have been through the Round Ireland Swim and understand and know the pain when we arrived at ports and felt that we were alone. We question ourselves when the sacrifices became overwhelming and then wonder how we were physically and emotionally able to continue.
We knew that swimming on was the only option despite our internal battles. The swimming [part] is not always the greatest challenge; it is the spirit and the internal need for support and respect for Nejib's journey that we felt the need to help.
We formed a bond early on as we watched him [from afar]. We saw his pain and knew that we could help him fly a little faster by being here [in Tunisia]. Coming from Ireland, we also have a deep-rooted understanding of his passion for peace. The revolution is still very fresh in his mind.
Open Water Source:What did you expect?
Nuala: We did not come with expectations. In fact, we were quite happy to go with whatever Nejib needed us for. Either way, we were here and I think this has worked well.
From the perspective of our personal expectations, we definitely felt a little apprehensive as two independent western women. Women's rights were only ratified in September 2011 and are still not law. So the whole cultural thing regarding covering up had our concerns because we are not in tourist areas and we were greeted by digniteries in formal surroundings as well as military representatives, especially being in swimming togs. Yep, we had our concerns.
Open Water Source:How is the swim?
Nuala: Three 10 km stage swims were planned for us with a rest day in between. But Nejib always discusses logistics and keeps us informed on every tiny detail. He is incredibly passionate and, though we are tired, we need to discuss world peace. The theme and need are pulsing in his veins. Everything he does and everything he talks about is about the journey for peace through swimming as the carrier pigeon - the universal language.
Our presence has been wonderful for his journey. Mainly as we are women, there are so many things within that fact. We are being greeted as women, being respected as women, being seen as women in swim costumes. Things that we take for granted like being hauled into boats by men. On the first day, Anne Marie threw her leg up for the guys to help her. They hesitated in touching her until I shouted "grab her leg". As international swimmers, we carry a positive message for Tunisia. Nejib is loving the profile that the Swim of peace is gaining with international input. Open water swimming is still an unknown sport here.
The priority this week has definitely been utilizing our presence to bring the Swim of Peace to a higher national and international awareness level. It has been exciting discussing the challenge to bringing the swim into Libya and beyond their borders. But it is impossible not to positively affected by Nejib's passion and his need for this journey to carry on.
The water here is a beautiful blue. It is light to the touch with a stunning straight coastline, about 14°C easy to push through. The National Guard provides our rescue cover and they are wonderful to swim with. There is little marine life that we have encountered. The arrivals and departures are fun and we have dressing gowns to wear onboard. We must cover up and not change our swim costumes for the day. On arrival, we have dresses which are fabulous and very easy to wear. The flag covers us as we leave the water. This is all new, but great to respect. We love swimming and then pulling out the flag as we exit. The people are filled with genuine smiles. Frankly, it is nothing like the image we had. They are very happy.
Open Water Source: Can you explain your overall experience?
Nejib is an amazing and fabulous man. His conviction and his commitment is surreal and quite a sight to behold. He is special. A father figure that you just want to help on his journey. This is not just a swim. That is the easy part. This is a life commitment. It is an honour and we are humbled to experience it. Nejib says himself that he is energized by the laughter and fun. It is not easy doing this on your own, getting up every day and trying to battle again a world that is not watching. Anne Marie and I both train alone so we also share this with him.
It has been a fantastic week. Nejib's sense of humour is unbelievable. We laugh continuous. I know whoever comes after us will have an amazing time as long as they understand his journey and Nejib as a person. This is more than a swim; this is a life commitment. The swimming is the easy part.
We are genuinely humbled and have another stage swim tomorrow and then we return home. The open water swimming community is amazing and we hope that they will support his journey as he so deserves. It is what we do for each other. This is one experience that we would never trade.
Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source
2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference
Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.
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."
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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2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac
An Almanac for Open Water SwimmingAn 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.
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