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Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Jonathan Strauss, Second Generation Open Water Producer
In addition to his distance skateboarding and paddle boarding events, Strauss organizes the annual Swim Miami in April.
Although Swim Miami was started by Jim Woodman, Strauss and his father, Robert, helped out early on. Now, Jonathan is carrying on the efforts of Woodman and his father. We asked Jonathan to fill in a bit of history on being a second-generation open water swimming race director.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: When did your father begin organizing open water swims, specifically the Swim Miami event?
Jonathan Strauss: My father began working with Jim Woodman in 1989 on the original versions of Swim Miami and the Miami Mile that actually swam down the Miami River and into Bayside. I actually swam that race. Looking back, I can't believe I swam in that water, but that is what open water swimming is about. No matter what the conditions, every athlete wants to accomplish it and live to tell the story.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What is your swimming background?
Jonathan Strauss: I graduated high school from Ransom Everglades, won a Florida state championship in water polo, and was named first team All-American in water polo. But I decided to swim in college for Coach Gregg Troy at the University of Florida. Coach Troy gave me the amazing opportunity to walk-on at Florida where I later became more involved with the team as its Captain in my junior and senior seasons. I never made it to the NCAA's, but my passion for aquatics and my selection to the Colombian National Team for international swim events kept me hungry. At Florida, I majored in Sport Management and always thought I would become the next Jerry Maguire. An Ethics/Sports Agent class in the middle of my Junior Year disenchanted me from becoming an agent, and I started to look into what my plan with Sports would be. I decided at that point that I wanted to own the property and negotiate with athletes, rather than represent (babysit) athletes and stray away from my moral/ethical code. I figured that rather than getting a job, it would be best to create something and run with it. I had no risk at that point, since I still wanted to study and get a Masters Degree.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: When did you begin helping out with open water events together with your father?
Jonathan Strauss: 1997 was the last year that Jim Woodman lived in South Florida and the last year that my father helped out and hosted the Miami Mile in the Miami Marine Stadium Basin. Jim went on to found Active.com and my father continued to operate a swim school and aquatic sports camp business until 2005. When I got more involved beginning in 2005, my network was in aquatics, so I decided to recreate the Miami Mile and rebrand it as Swim Miami. I knew I could convince some of my friends who were famous stars in the swimming world to join me at the first edition of the rebirth of Swim Miami in 2005 after my career in competitive swimming was over. Ed Moses, Gary Hall Jr. and Anthony Ervin were amongst the first competitors at the rebirth of the event. We also catered to the triathlon world by offering a more challenging 5K swim as well.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What do you see as the future of open water swimming, in Florida and around the United States?
Jonathan Strauss: If thousands run marathons and compete in triathlons, thousands should swim open water. It creates the same sense of accomplishment, if not better, and releases the same amount of endorphins, not to mention the low impact and longevity of career that exists.
The thrill of accomplishment well outweighs the fear or chance of fauna affecting your participation. Florida is a great destination for open water because it can be practiced year round.
We have different venues that lend to the different elements that make open water challenging: we have extremely hot water in the summer time, we have rivers, lakes, rough water, and calm water. You have to know how to swim in all of these in order to be recognized as a top open water swimmer. I would like to see the Olympics develop that in their format, in order to truly find who the best open water athlete is. Unlike swimming in a pool, open water is more about accomplishment rather than time. It is competitive because you want to get to Point B faster than your friends, but the time doesn't matter as the conditions are equal to everyone.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Do you see any differences between the expectations of swimmers of different age groups?
Jonathan Strauss: I don't see many differences in age groups. Everyone wants to win their age group. The older age groups want that sense of accomplishment a lot more than just the award of being third place. But I notice that they all like to know what place they got. I know that older generations like to get more and more gadgets to help them swim so that they can try and travel at equal speeds as to when they were younger. Fins, paddles, pull buoys, and even snorkels are consistent questions from older swimmers, whether they will be allowed or not at the race. I think that this will make participation grow. I have started to allow gadgets at all the swims that I produce.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Are there any differences in expectations or racing between males and females at the Swim Miami event?
Jonathan Strauss: Men want to beat all the men and women want to beat all the women. The more competitive women tend to not want any other swimmers to beat them. I have seen that the male field at Swim Miami does tend to be more competitive. But I know that women brought less recognized sports such as beach volleyball and tennis to prominence so I love to see when more and more women compete.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What is your lightening policy in Miami?
Jonathan Strauss: We always hire Ocean Rescue Guards at our swim and we designate a Head Lifeguard. Our policy is in line with the comfort level of the Head Lifeguard. We absolutely ask to remove all swimmers from the water if there is a 12 count or less from lightning to thunder. We will wait out at least 30 minutes from the last sound of thunder. If we get into a delay of longer than 2 hours, we will call the event and reschedule. Safety is a priority of mine, and that is why we do have a weather policy, even though the water is so dense and the chances of lightning striking are very slim, but I do not want to be the first recording of an event that has Lightning strike. I know the swimmers are diehards and do not want an event cancelled, but we need those rules. I personally, used to joke when I was a swimmer, "If the fish don't jump out of the water, why should we?" Just a thought.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Have you ever heard of anyone who has ever been struck by lightening in the water?
Jonathan Strauss: I've never heard it. I googled it, and there are no recordings of lightning strikes in water in the State of Florida. I am willing to bet it is like that nationwide, and perhaps worldwide, but it is better to not try and find out. That is why safety is absolutely necessary. As an event producer, cutting costs are important, but I would rather take a paycut than compromise safety of the participants.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What role does your mother play in all of this swimming and event producing by you and your father?
Jonathan Strauss: My mother is the number one cheerleader and the best Registration/Check-in "Employee" anyone can ask for. She now gets a lot of help from my wife, my brother, and his wife, but there is nobody as tireless as her. She will even travel to make sure that there is someone responsible at the Check-in area.
Copyright © 2013 by Open Water Swimming
2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference
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
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 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...
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 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.
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.