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Friday, July 5, 2013

The Feeling Of Finishing, From Fatigue To Felicity

Whether it is passing under the finish archway in a mass participation swim like the Great North Swim, or a slow crawl up on the rocks after a channel swim in Catalina, how swimmers feel when they step up on the shore can widely vary.

At that moment of completion, some athletes free elation, others relief, and others satisfaction and pride. Others fall in the realm of disappointment, fatigue or pain. Some feel, inexplicably, nothing much at all until they have had time to soak it all in. We asked a number of open water swimmers of various backgrounds what they feel upon finishing.

Chris Guesdon, a coach, swimmer, administrator, and member of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, explains, "The words that come to mind on completion of an event are relief if it was solo adventure type swim, or elation if it was a race elation."

Similarly, actress and endurance athlete Alexandra Paul feels "like woo hooo. I did it. Very proud of myself for sticking it out and relieved it is over too. But mostly Woohooo! That was fun!"

Kurt Ott, Race Coordinator of the Tampa Bay Frogman, says "It’s the complete attitude change when crossing the finish line. During a competitive race when pushing myself, lungs burning, swallowing salt water, shoulders aching, sometimes I question why I am doing this. Then as I cross the finish line my immediate thoughts are, that was so awesome and fun….can’t wait to do it again."

Olympic swimmer Benjamin Schulte explains his feeling, "When I hit the finish pad, I feel fine for a split second. Then all the pain and soreness and effort rushes into me as though it's been trailing just on my heels the entire way. Sort of the way it's like the sound trails an airplane when it's flying high and at high speeds, then kind of catches it when it gets closer to the ground and slows down.

When I've finished, I think to myself "Ooooh thank God that's done." I feel like all the stress from preparation and training can be put on hold for a little bit, and I can enjoy the rest of the day with the satisfaction that I've finished and a good dose of relaxation is coming my way

For Dave Barra of the 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim, the end result is long-term. "For me, the greatest excitement comes during the moments leading up to splash time: checking all the feeds, the conditions, trying to stay loose, making sure all the crew are solid in their roles, etc. Nothing is guaranteed, nothing is certain.

The first thing I feel after landing is extreme gratitude for the efforts of my crew. I've watched them suffer through many hours of continuous chop in tiny boats, charged with the responsibility of staying alert while I get to zone out.

Often, the whole team is too exhausted to even participate in a celebratory meal. I often feel a post-swim melancholy for several days while I process the whole experience

Adam Walker en route to the 7 channel swims of the Oceans Seven, describes his thoughts, "I feel relieved and overjoyed that I have achieved my goal. As soon as it’s over I enjoy the moment but turn my sight onto the next challenge. I feel it’s important to set the next goal and keep moving forwards."

Carina Bruwer, a marathon swimmer from South Africa, says things are more unpredictable. "That feeling is nothing I can ever predict. It has ranged from absolute elation to disappointment; from extreme exhaustion to wanting to turn back for a double after a 35 km swim.

I have done big swims which I have worked towards and dreamed of for years, where I would have expected to have felt absolutely elated and on top of the world, but in the end I felt relieved more than anything else. This was the case with the English Channel, actually. The elation and gravity of what I've done only sank in later.

Then there have been swims like crossing False Bay, which I also obsessed about for years, and had one failed attempt due to hypothermia. I was overwhelmed by emotion when I finished this swim in 2006. I still remember seeing the dozen or so people waiting for me on the slipway – these included some close friends, some media and some swimming enthusiasts, feeling them waiting for me; speeding up into a near-sprint for the last km after a 10 hour swim, and shaking from excitement (not cold, for a change!) and emotion when I finally felt the sand under my feet and heard the applause.

And in my recent swim around Cape Point, I was so close to being unconscious from hypothermia, there was no room for any emotion whatsoever. I can remember it feeling very right though.

I remember it probably because I did the swim for child cancer which was the first time I've swum for a cause. I truly had no aspirations of breaking records or anything like that; it was something I had to do for the organisation, and for my own journey as well. Again, in retrospect, I am filled with pride and contentment about that swim

As for processing the whole experience, Ben Lecomte who swam and drifted across the breath of the Atlantic Ocean describes his feeling at the end of his Atlantic swim. "As I stepped on the beach in France, I felt an immense sense of completion and fulfillment, and was overwhelmed.

It was a mix with a feeling of physical and mental pain that I could not put aside as I said: "never again!" But as we know now, it only took me few months to change my mind and set it toward my next swim

Jennifer Figge who also crossed the Atlantic Ocean and done a variety of month-long stage swims is similar in that the finish leads to another start. "There is a lot of water out there to keep me busy. When I finish and have sand in my hands, the feeling is I am here,and I wake up the next morning, sort of knowing that I accomplished it. The feeling of finishing an ocean crossing is that ... I never want to finish. It is difficult when I know that land is near. There are many signs. The frigate birds can only fly 600 miles, so when the birds show up, that's how close I am. I never see the contrails (vapor trails) of airplanes flying over the Atlantic, but when they appear land is near. Also, you can smell land, the trees, the specific humidity in the air, it is different. It is the end. And I don't want to look at it. I just want to start all over again!"

Darren Miller who has completed 6 of 7 Oceans Seven channels has another perspective. "When completing a marathon swim, I tend to have a feeling of exhaustion and excitement at the same time – they sort of level each other out in one euphoric moment. The pain during the ‘final push’ is so high, yet the feeling of wanting to finish drives the spirit to ignore the pain at the end. I tend to be more on the conservative side with my energy until the final miles, so I always have something left in the tank to make a strong, hard push at the end.

Two swims in particular, Molokai and Tsugaru, were very difficult at the completion due to having to push particularly hard during the final few miles in order to not be ‘swept’ in the wrong direction and leave finishing a distant memory. I believe the thought of not completing something is what drives me the hardest, as I never want to know what that feels like.

When I return to ‘normal life’ after these incredible adventures, I often struggle with completely understanding what it was that my team and I completed. I don’t know if this amazing journey will ever sink in – it just feels like a dream sometimes

U.S. Masters Swimming national championship race director Bill McCracken explains the difference in finishing various types of swims. "I just finished a 5 km training swim this morning at lake Del Valle. As I stepped out of the water, I felt a great amount of relief that my swimming partner and I finished without any incident. Safety is key and I was glad I got out before all the pleasure boats got going. Shift gears to the 5 km race at Del Valle two weeks ago and I finished with a huge smile on my face. Happy that I swam well and see the joy on so many other competitors in finishing.

Fast forward to Maui Channel Swim or Trans Tahoe Relay. I am always invigorated by the beauty of the body of water. I anxious to find out how I did. Did I catch up to the boat in front of us. Did I put space between us and the time behind us? Did I do my part for the team? It's always a thrill to participate in team relays

As Bruwer sums up, "Finishing is that moment one works towards, but some of my most memorable and rewarding moments and memories are of hitting that zone in the swim – it can last the whole swim, or it can be a fleeting moment when you're reminded of the beauty of the ocean, of nature and of the sport, and the resilience of the human body and soul. Phew, what a sport!"

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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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.

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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