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2016 WOWSA AWARD WINNERS
2016 WOWSA Man of the Year – Nejib Belhedi
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Monday, May 27, 2013
Playing It Safe In The Maui Channel And Elsewhere
Back during the 1999, Zornig had a close call together with Novaquatics teammates Rick Reeder, Craig Taylor, Dan Sullivan, Tom Landis, Jim Fitzpatrick, and 57 other teams doing the 9.5-mile inter-island relay between Lanai and Maui in Hawaii. This is their story:
"We had a shark encounter with a 12-15 foot tiger shark during Maui Channel Swim. It was a scary experience as I saw the whole thing developing," recalls Zornig.
When the large shark was first seen, Rick Reeder was swimming. The captain quickly positioned the escort boat between the shark and Reeder. When Reeder saw his teammates wave at him, he thought they were cheering him on. But he learned something else was amiss. “When I got close, I lifted my head and I heard them yell, ‘Get in the boat now, shark.’ I put my face back down in the water and started to swim to the boat as fast as I could.”
And in this case, the sprint was done in the nick of time. The shark, which was initially seen about 25 meters away, was closing fast and came within 2 meters of Reeder. It continued to circle menacingly around the escort boat for over 10 minutes.
Zornig remembers, "It was only 30-45 seconds before we pulled Reeder into the boat to safety, but I also remember thinking what I was going to tell his wife and family [since] I was the person who organized the relay and talked Rick into joining our team.
We, of course, disqualified ourselves during the relay and spent the rest of the time warning boats via our radio. Some of the teams pulled their swimmers out of the water upon hearing our warning. 3 or 4 other teams actually saw the same shark after it left us, but we found that many boat pilots were not monitoring the radios or did not have one. Then, we went boat to boat warning the swimmers.
The experience - about the actual shark encounter and about the communications between boats, crews and swimmers - had a profound influence on Zornig. "People often ask me what will I do if I am observing a channel swimmer and I see a shark a safe distance away. My answer is that I am going to immediately pull them out of the water unless I can quickly determine that it is a small, harmless shark. If I am wrong, so what! The swimmer can always return next year and try again. I would rather have a swimmer and family scream at me for pulling the swimmer too soon than for waiting too long."
Copyright © 2013 by Open Water Swimming
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Open Water Swimming Magazine
Open Water Swimming MagazineThe 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...
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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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The trends are very clear.
The tide is rising for open water swimming.