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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ultra-Courageous, Ultra-Marathon Swims Of Paul And Penny

Come mid-June on the two different sides of Mexico, Paul Lundgren and Penny Palfrey may be swimming into history.

Both are scheduled for solo ultra-marathon swims in warm waters: Lundgren is attempting an unprecedented 76-mile (122 km) solo swim across the Sea of Cortez (see map below), starting on the eastern side of Baja California and swimming towards the Mexican mainland. Sometime after Lundgren's swim, Palfrey will take her own stab at history in her 103-mile (165.7 km) solo swim from the northern coast of Cuba to the Florida Keys.

While Palfrey will have to swim across the Gulf Stream in the Straits of Florida, Lundgren will make his way across what is thought to be one of the most diverse seas on the planet that is home to more than 5,000 species of macroinvertebrates. Both ultra-marathon swimmers have deal with sharks and jellyfish of all types on their solo swims as well as sleepless nights on their multi-day adventures.

Both are guided and protected by experienced crew members, from Jeff Kozlovich on Palfrey's side to Mark Montgomery on Lundgren's side. Kozlovich, a veteran lifeguard from Hawaii, has been aside the 50-year-old Australian wonder on her swims between Oahu and Kauai as well as in the Cayman Islands where she encountered both jellyfish and sharks. Montgomery, a veteran lifeguard and endurance athlete who trains daily with some of the most experienced ultra-marathoners in the world, is similarly prepared to expect the unexpected. "It always seems that each emergency is a surprise. There is no substitute for dealing with emergencies than to be mentally and physically prepared. I have been going through my head the possibilities and what I will do in such cases."

Both athletes and their crews know that the anticipated 40+ hour swims is not only a physical battle and operational challenge requiring navigational skills, but also it requires a calm emotional state and mental focus shared by only a few individuals on Earth. Montgomery talks about Lundgren, "He is prepared as well as can be, and in the best shape of his life. He was born to this type of adventure, as I never knew anyone that could just go all day at one pace like Paul, a trait that will serve him very well this June."

Neither athlete will use a shark cage, although Palfrey usually is escorted by Shark Shields, one of her sponsors. But sharks, usually curious and just cruising around, do come around in many ultra-marathon swims.

During the 19th hour of Diana Nyad's attempt between Cuba and Florida, a curious oceanic white tip shark approached her protective flotilla of five boats. The shark was initially observed by a spotter aboard the last boat in the rear position, "The shark was swimming 2-3 meters under the surface with its distinctive white tips reflecting off the canvas of royal blue. Fortunately, Diana's safety team spotted the 4-5 foot endangered shark lurking in the crystal clear water well in time for preventative action."

Safety diver Rob MacDonald of West Palm Beach, Florida jumped to action and dove immediately into the water to protect Nyad. MacDonald showed no hesitation and apparently had no worries or regrets. He just professionally moved into a heightened state of alert.

MacDonald entered the glassy flat doldrums under cloudless skies with free diving fins. He was armed with only a long pole with a soft end to it. He moved as stealthily as humanly possible, kicking silently and smoothly with his long fins, snorkel put like a periscope, and long pole armed at the ready. An inflatable raft followed in close proximity with a crew aboard who were all mesmerized by the gracefully moving shark and the equally courageous safety diver.

But it appeared to be not an inhospitable encounter, but rather merely an expression of temporary territorial rights. "I didn't want to hurt the shark. The sharks are our friends," calmly explained MacDonald afterwards. "We just wanted to keep the sharks away from Diana. I never saw any aggression from the shark. While I approached the shark, it was so beautiful. I wish I had my camera. The shark never lowered its pectoral fins or arched its back. When a shark does that, it is ready to attack."

As the shark continued to circle underneath, MacDonald continued to play on offense. As the shark moved, MacDonald moved. As the shark circled, MacDonald circled. They mirrored each others movements, like well-synched dancers. But their synchronicity would soon come to a climax. As the shark swam up towards the surface closer to MacDonald, Nyad's human shield also moved towards the shark like two heavyweights meeting in mid-rink.

To the disbelief of the crew watching from the escort boats, MacDonald quickly dove below the surface like a protective mother bear. He faced the shark eye-to-eye, swimming at it head-on, never letting the shark out of his sights. The eyes of the shark and the human were locked on each other, apparently playing a game of truth-or-dare. The two faced off in the silent arena underwater, each respectful and totally unafraid of one another. The shark clearly sensed a formidable denizen in the Caribbean depths as MacDonald never flinched. Like two enemy jet pilots swooping at one another in the skies above, MacDonald and the shark locked onto one another as they both were gaining speed towards a clash.

The crew held their breath for both combatants dove deeper and became more and more obscured underwater. No one knew or could imagine what the next move was going to be.

In a very real sense, down below the surface of the Caribbean blue, mano-a-mano was replaced by mano-a-apex predator.

While the shark's pectoral fins remained static, MacDonald made a forward thrust with his soft pole in front of him. In the depths, he appeared as a knight with his lance out against a fast-moving tank. But the shark was the first to flinch. "But that (move) was enough to convince the shark to swim off. I never hit it. He just dove down to 60-70 feet and headed off in the opposite direction of Diana."

Safely separated, the coast was clear and Nyad kept stroking on hour by hour, mile by mile, away from the shark and closer to her Xtreme Dream destination in Florida as MacDonald climbed nonchalantly on board to the whoops and hollers of Nyad's crew where he readied his camera for the next encounter.

And so it is in the ultra-marathon world where adventurers like Lundgren, Palfrey and Nyad forge on and expect the unexpected under the watchful and experienced eyes and protection of their escort crews.

Copyright © 2012 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.


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

Swim Across the English Channel...


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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.

WOWSA Member Benefits include 12 issues of the Open Water Swimming Magazine, the annual 276-page Open Water Swimming Almanac, a free listing in Sponsor My Swim, outstanding product discounts from FINIS, an entry in Openwaterpedia and more...

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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In fact, there is even one for open water swimming...

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The trends are very clear.
The tide is rising for open water swimming.


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