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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Everything That Could Go So Wrong Went So Right

So many things can quickly go pear-shaped while swimming across the Molokai Channel in Hawaii: adverse weather conditions, shark encounters, jellyfish stings, humungus ocean swells, and massively powerful currents can all cause a swim to be stopped or delayed.

Putting on a race on one specific day is tacking on another level of risk. Who knows what the water or weather conditions will be like? How large will the waves and swells be? What will be the strength of the wind or the direction of the currents?

Yet, co-race directors Steve Haumschild and Jeff Kozlovich took the chance with their inaugural Ka'iwi Channel Swim, a 28-mile (45 km) relay competition between the islands of Molokai and Oahu.

Not only did the Swim proceed safely, making the most of the Molokai Channel, but the relays teams also made a great competition.

"It was a good race. I am still shocked by the closeness," describes Bill Ireland who was on the winning Veterans team in the Ka'iwi Channel Swim. "The difference [between the 9:53 and 9:56 final times] was incredibly small. I assumed the two teams would have been an hour apart. The difference was about the equivalent of one tenth of a second per 50. It was real tight."

Haumschild saw the teams battle it out all day long, trading the lead like swimmers in a professional 10 km race. "The teams traded the lead so many times, we could barely keep up. This was an incredible showcase of athleticism by both teams in the ultimate open water swimming proving grounds. Towards the end, both teams stepped it up."

From the perspective of the athletes, safety personnel, escort pilots and organizers, the Ka'iwi Channel Swim had it all and was deservedly nominated for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year. Its nomination reads, "Jeff Kozlovich and Steve Haumschild, two courageous watermen from Hawaii, had seen nearly everything in their years paddling, swimming, and exploring the 9 major channels of the Hawaiian Islands. Their ocean experience and ocean-faring talents were combined with an audacious dream: to bring the 26-mile Ka'iwi (Molokai) Channel to more swimmers. Crossing the channel is tough, too demanding for everyone but the very best. They envisioned the Ka'iwi Channel Swim, a daunting 6-person relay rift with inherent risks. For their ocean knowledge and expertise, for their vision to introduce a mighty channel for more swimmers, for their safe execution of a difficult relay swim across the Molokai Channel, the Ka'iwi Channel Swim produced by Jeff Kozlovich and Steve Haumschild is a worthy nominee for the 2013 WOWSA Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year."

The World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year nominees include:

1. BCT Gdynia Marathon, Prizing the Pros (Poland)
2. Bering Strait Swim, Crossing from Asia to America (International)
3. Emily Brunemann, FINA World Cup Winner (U.S.A.)
4. Héctor Ramírez Ballesteros, Battling Butterfly From Spain to Gibraltar (Spain)
5. Ka'iwi Channel Swim, Making the Most of Molokai (Hawaii)
6. Mateusz Sawrymowicz, The Polish Tiburon (Poland)
7. Melissa Cunningham, Every Stroke Counts (Australia)
8. Mohamed Marouf, Energizing Egypt (Egypt)
9. Ned Denison, 9 Swims Around The World (Ireland)
10. Night Train Swimmers, California Coastal Cruising (U.S.A.)
11. Richard Weinberger, Chasing Gold (Canada)
12. Swim4Good, Strait of Gibraltar Charity Crossing (Mexico)
13. Sylvain Estadieu, Flying Frenchman (France)
14. Wendy Trehiou, Two-way Toughness (Jersey)
15. Women’s 10K World Championship, Pack Finishing Fast (International)

Online voting takes place here.

Photo courtesy of Kaia Hedlund shows The Veterans (Karen Schmidt, Amy Dantzler, Brent Blackman, Bill Ireland, Bruce Thomas, and Dianne Gleason) and The Youngsters (Terence Young, Brian King, Mitchell Degeus, Jamison Grove, Brittney Yim, and Erin Yamamoto) on Sandy Beach at the finish. Videos of various scenes across the Channel of Bones are posted here.

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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