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Monday, March 18, 2013

Dan O'Connor Escapes The Judge To Go Open Water

Dan O'Connor has always enjoyed long distance swimming the the pool. The University of North Carolina swimmer has recently added open water swimming to his wheelhouse.

Ashley Twichell, like O'Connor an upstate New Yorker who went to college in the state of North Carolina, interviews him on his emerging interest in open water swimming.

Twichell: What was your first open water race?
O'Connor: My first race was called Escape the Judge in Skaneateles, New York. It’s a 1-mile race with extremely clear water and a low-key, fun race. I really enjoyed this experience, and was therefore really excited to be invited to the 2010 Open Water National Select Camp. I figured open water was a new calling.

Twichell:: How did the camp go?
O'Connor: The camp was great It was at California State University Long Beach, right before 2010 USA Swimming Open Water National Championships. Even though I participated in the Skaneateles race, I was very inexperienced, and was pretty close-minded about open water. I really had no idea what to expect. I was so used to pool swimming, and the constant conditions of lane lines, clear water, and no physical contact. However, I was beyond lucky to have Fran Crippen as the camp mentor. He stayed with us throughout the entire camp, practicing with us and giving presentations, even though he also had to compete in Nationals (which were also the World Championships Trials for USA Swimming) in just a couple of days. He gave us invaluable tips that only an experienced, talented veteran could provide. So, by the end of the camp, I was really excited to compete in the 10K at Nationals.

Twichell: Tell us about the race itself.
O'Connor: It started off really well. But I was a complete rookie. The thing that stands out most in my memory is how physical it was. Right from the beginning, I was getting hit and thrown around. I was not ready for this [kind of] open water at all. Around the 5K, I was in the back of the lead pack, and giving it my all trying to stay with them. Slowly but surely, I began to feel myself dying. Not only did I lose the lead pack, but people began passing me frequently. At around 6K, I was so physically and mentally exhausted that I decided to pull out of the race. I had an internal argument with myself about whether or not to do this, but in my gut knew I could not last another four kilometers.

Twichell: As you were being brought back to shore on the boat, what was going through your mind? O'Connor: My biggest emotion was relief that I was out of the race. I didn’t have any regrets, because I knew I honestly couldn’t have swum any farther. Afterwards, though, I was disappointed that I hadn’t been able to finish, and that it certainly hadn’t gone as I had hoped or planned.

Twichell: So you were scheduled to compete in the 5K two days later. With the 10K race not going so well, what made you decide to compete, rather than just calling it quits?
O'Connor: I knew I hadn’t trained for a 10K, and knew that I had hung in there pretty well for 6 of the 10 kilometers. I had a lot more confidence going into a 5K race (one hour) as compared to a 10K race (two hours).

Twichell: How did you do in the 5K?
O'Connor: In this race, I stayed laid back for a little while. I was in the pack right behind the lead pack for most of the race, and then at the 3K, I felt a burst of energy and decided to switch gears. I passed a lot of people, and ended up finishing 11th overall, the 8th American. This was a MUCH more enjoyable experience than the 10K.

Twichell: What did you take home from the entire experience? The camps, the races, and open water in general?
O'Connor: Even though I had a really tough experience in the 10K, the much more enjoyable experience of the 5K made me walk away from the trip wanting to continue on with open water. I loved how it was so purely race-oriented, and so different from pool swimming.

Twichell: You decided to give the 10K another shot in 2011 in Ft. Lauderdale, and then again in 2012 in Ft. Myers, both at the USA Swimming National Open Water National Champinships. How did these two races go?
O'Connor: In both races, I kind of misjudged my pacing again in the 10K. I exerted too much energy in the first half of the race. However, I did finish both of these races, but not as high as I would have liked. The 5K in 2012 was the first time everything actually clicked for me in an open water race where I placed third. This race was different from the others in that I actually stayed in the middle of the lead pack for the race, and didn’t let myself stress that I wasn’t right at the front, or freak out if someone passed me. I kept reminding myself that this was an hour-long race, and I had plenty of time to make my move. If something didn’t go as I had planned, I kept repeating to myself that this was the norm for open water races.

Twichell: You are an accomplished pool swimmer; an Olympic Trial qualifier in multiple events, and an NCAA All-American honorable mention. What drives you to also compete in open water?
O'Connor: I feel like I am a lot more of a distance swimmer than the pool allows for; the farther the distance, the better I get. However, I have never gone into a 10K with a great strategy. Therefore, I know that I can be so much better than I have shown so far; this makes me want to continue trying, until I have the race I know I can.

Twichell: What are the biggest lessons you have learned from your open water experiences?
O'Connor: Knowing that I have to pace myself is definitely the biggest one. Also, to take advantage of drafting, and knowing I don’t need to be at the front of the pack, especially in the beginning. In fact, this is actually detrimental for me. Also, to not stress or worry when unexpected things happen, or something goes wrong; realizing that this is happening to everybody, and is just the nature of open water.

Twichell: What advice do you have for young swimmers who are thinking about trying an open water competition?
O'Connor: It is definitely worth it to give it a shot; for me, open water is so much more engaging and stimulating than a pool race. The majority of people I know who have given open water an honest shot have grown to love it. In addition, there is a lot of potential for mobility and moving up in the open water scene.

Copyright © 2013 by Open Water Swimming

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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



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



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



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



Christopher Guesdon (Australia) on Multidimensional Roles In The Sport



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



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



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



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)



Coffee and Break



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]



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



Sally Minty-Gravett (Jersey) on Motivating Swimmers



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



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



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



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]



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






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



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



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



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



Ned Denison (Ireland) on Swimming The World



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



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



Survey distribution and group photo-taking



Swim at Stravvana Bay, Isle of Bute


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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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

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2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac

An Almanac for Open Water Swimming

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Open Water Swimming Event Sanctioning

World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation

Open Water Race Calendar

Coaches Education Program