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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Gary Hall Jr., An Olympian In More Ways Than One

While the eyes of the sporting world are on the athletes at the 2012 London Olympic Games, the eyes of former Olympians are also zeroed in on the nail-biting races in London.

If you want to see Olympic heroes and heroines of the past, head to London where hundreds of alumni of Olympics of years past gather. Some are hired announcers; some are representatives of corporations; some are consultants to various organizations; some come on their own as fans.

One of the most intriguing and interesting personalities in Olympic history present in London is Gary Hall Jr., the 10-time American swimming sprinter.

Hall is known for the ambiance that he brought to the pool deck. Colorful, personable, and unique were a few of the adjectives that describe the fun-loving Olympic champion who famously appeared on the Olympic pool deck with a boxing robe.

But Hall also proven himself to be visionary, compassionate and heroic out of the pool in his post-Olympic career.

As a Type 1 diabetic, Hall has been a passionate spokesman of public health initiatives and an advocate for research in the field of diabetes. He has advised many corporate boards and government committees on the topic, speaking eloquently on possible solutions and ongoing research to help stem the diabetes problem faced by children and adults alike.

Hall also was an early advocate of incorporating open water swimming training with his traditional pool swimming workouts. "I probably trained in the open water 60-65% of the time between the 2000 and 2004 Olympics. I definitely think open water swimming training helped my career."

And while Hall is viewed as an Olympic hero, he also became one in real life.

It is interesting and inspirational to learn how outside the Olympics, athletes like Hall also become real-life heroes who find themselves in unexpected situations during unexpected times.

Back in 2007 the co-founder of the Race Club was spear-fishing in the Florida Keys with his sister, Bebe Hall, when they encountered by a 6-foot black tip reef shark.

The siblings were diving when Hall speared a large snapper. Out of the corner of her eye, Bebe spotted a large reef shark, so they decided to quickly head back to their boat. Thinking wisely, Hall held the snapper out of the water while kicking on his back. Bebe whose heart started to beat like never before kept a wary eye on the shark that began circling.

The shark dove and they momentarily lost sight of the shark.

Suddenly, Bebe felt a bump on her shoulder. Unobserved, a second - and larger - shark had been attracted to the two swimmers. Bebe turned and saw the shark's head at her shoulder, then it turned and was swimming between Gary's legs as he furiously kicked away in an attempt to get away.

Hall began yelling at Bebe to reload the spear. She reloaded, but with the shark between herself and her brother, she had to make a decision. She knew that if she missed the shark, she would shoot her brother...so she waited.

Then, just like the movies and every open water swimmer's worse fear, the shark turned toward Bebe. But this was not Hollywood, this was a real-life emergency. Bebe, focused but shaking, shot the oncoming shark with her spear gun. Bullseye! The spear hit the shark straight on. Then she pulled out the spear knowing there were more than one shark, but that she only had this one bit of defense. The shark swam away as the two swimmers reached their boat - and safety.

"It was a scary experience, but we made it," recalled Hall. "Another shark, larger than the first one we saw, came in from another direction and hit my sister on her arm. Because of everything that was going on so suddenly, I didn’t even realize she had been bit before the shark started to head towards me. I started to kick it and punch it as a reflex."

"The shark was thrashing and had its back arched when it came at me. I punched it in the nose and tried to kick it off me, but kept coming. I was able to get underneath it and tried to roll it off of me. But that is when it charged toward my sister. She had already been bit, but she had enough sense to load the spear. All this is happening so fast, but when the shark charged at her with its mouth open, she was able to shoot it. The shark was injured and it swam off. Otherwise, with her bleeding as much as she was, it really could have been disastrous."

When they returned to the boat, Hall made a sling and used it as a tourniquet for Bebe’s arm. Hall was later recognized by USA Swimming and received the 2007 Adolf Keifer Safety Commendation Award.

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.

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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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.
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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.

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