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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Swimming On The Professional Marathon Swimming Circuit

Competing in the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix circuit is an honor and opportunity that is not available to all the estimated 8,500 active marathon swimmers around the world. But for those young and fast enough, the experiences usually rank among the most memorable and unique swimming experiences the athletes have had in their aquatic careers.

Lexie Kelly from Long Beach, California is participating in her first season as a professional marathon swimmer. She describes what it is like on the pro circuit, starting with the Maratón Acuática Internactional Ciudad de Rosario in Rosario, Argentina.

"Swimmers gathered from all over the world to compete on the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix circuit. I came from Long Beach, California. The flight to Argentina from California is very long. When I sat back and took a look at the globe, my destination is further south and east than I ever realized with a 6-hour time difference. I arrived in Buenos Aires in the morning. The race director from Rosario made arrangements to pick up the swimmers at the airport.

This service was a lifesaver as I had never been to this part of the world. Without their help, I would have been very confused as the airport. The activities and energy in Buenos Aires is more hectic than I am accustomed to back home. The price for the transport was very reasonable (US$55 for a 4-hour drive. The driver who waited for me at the airport had my name on a sign. Despite all of the chaos in the airport, it was surprising how fast he found me. Between his limited command of English and my Spanish, we were able to communicate. We stopped by a second airport and picked up another swimmer. I'm the kind of person who likes to talk and ask questions, especially when I am in a new place so we did our best to carry on a conversation throughout the 4 hours. Despite the fact that we were so far away from home, it was unbelievable how much the two-lane freeway reminded me driving up to my mother's house in northern California. Within a short span of time, the three of us became friends and we still keep in touch on Facebook

When we arrived at the hotel, I was given a room and envelope with my name with a list of swimming locations and the available times, as well as vouchers for lunch and dinner at a restaurant just down the street. I had no idea how far the swim spots were so I quickly got online and found them. I had 30 minutes to unpack before the first swim session so it was a good time to work out the jet lag as soon as possible. The 6-lane pool was at an indoor club at the end of a dark hall. The lane lines were literally ropes.

There were only two athletes in the pool, but I did not know them. We tried to talk, but there was a huge language barrier between my English and their Russian. But we had the common bond as competitors. After workout they kindly showed me where the restaurant was to eat dinner and we struggled using body language. I knew enough Spanish to order some pollo (chicken). Despite our lack of a common language, we got along really well and spent the next day together. The other athletes arrived later in the week, but I knew when the Italians arrived because in the middle of an afternoon workout, I smelled the strong scent of expensive cologne.

The next couple days were spent between training in the pool, eating breakfast at the hotel, and having lunch and dinner at the restaurant down the street. When the other swimmers arrived, we all worked out together making the pool feel like a washing machine which was fine because we were all open water swimmers. Pilar Geijo arrived the Thursday before the race and asked what time I'd like to meet her for dinner. I suggested 6 or 7 pm to which she asked, "Why so early?" In Argentina, 8 pm is the earliest they even think about eating dinner as opposed to that time when I am starting to put on my pajamas and brush my teeth for bed. It made sense because I realized how long the days were with the sun not starting to set until 8:30 pm. Having a friend in Pilar is extremely great because she is experienced and knowledgeable about the race and fluent in Spanish and English.

We didn't have many obligations in Rosario in the lead-up to the Maratón Acuática Internactional Ciudad de Rosario other than an introduction to city officials and an outing to go see the venue and watch a local swim team swim of 100 children swim in the river for their first time. It was so much fun because the kids really made you feel like celebrities. They all wanted to take numerous pictures with all of the swimmers. This was also my first time seeing the Paraná River where the first event would be held. The water was very silty and the color of chocolate milk. I have swam around the world, but I had never swam in brown water.

Normally, I'd want to get in to get a feel for what the currents would be like, especially since swimming in a river was a new experience for me. But swimmers got sick in this river before so I didn't want to take any chances. Watching the kids swim was enough for me. They all seemed very excited about it. There were very proud and you could feel their sense of accomplishment after they swam. With one more day until the race, all the athletes trained in the pool and socialized. Although we would be competitors in 24 hours, everyone was friendly and respectful of one another. I met some new friends from Argentina, Italy, Croatia, Macedonia, Russia, Bulgaria, Venezuela, and Ecuador as we traded country caps, stickers, and shirts with each other.

A pre-race technical meeting was held to go over the course details, rules, etc. The course was a combination of swimming up and down current in a 7-loop course in the river where we had visited the children. There were not only worries about swimming so close to the shore along a cable where the spectators are known to try to touch the swimmers during the race, but also a huge concern about the water quality. The water quality was given a D rating on January 22nd and the race was held on January 27th.

With this in mind, the organizers were not even sure the race could take place. My coach Mike Collins arrived right as the meeting started after a long trip from California so it was nice to have another American there with me. Mike was also concerned with the water and went straight to the FINA Medical Delegate to ask what precautions we could take if the race did occur because the water quality being so poor. The doctor suggested that I start taking probiotics as soon as possible. Unfortunately, it was too late in the evening so the pharmacies were closed, but I started taking the probiotics as the FINA doctor recommended.

The athletes took physicals the next day to make sure we were in good health to compete. This included basic health questions and a check of our blood pressure and temperature. By this time, the organizers told us the race would go on as scheduled because the water was now a B rating. Apparently, they had previously tested the water in a different location in addition to stopping the drainage of sewage that was pouring into the river.

Part 2 is here. Part 3 is here.

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

A Thank You Gift from WOWSA

WOWSA is celebrating the
1-Year Anniversary of the monthly Open Water Swimming Magazine
by giving you a free copy of the anniversary issue.

Open Water Swimming Magazine Anniversary Issue
File Size: 13MB


Download the file to your computer, and then right-click to extract the magazine which is inside the zip folder. The magazine is in PDF format.

CLICK HERE to download your free copy now.

Swim Across the English Channel...


Who else is looking for a qualified open water swimming coach to help them swim across the English Channel?

Chloë McCardel is a 6-time English Channel Swimmer who inspires and instructs. Access featured content by Chloë in this month's issue of the Open Water Swimming Magazine. Published monthly by WOWSA, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a digital, interactive publication made available exclusively to WOWSA members. See what you've been missing! Become a WOWSA member today!

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.

But the farmers almanac was just one example among many.
There are, of course, many different kinds of almanacs.

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

Preview the Open Water Swimming Almanac:

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


Open Water Swimming Event Sanctioning

World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation

Open Water Race Calendar

Coaches Education Program