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Monday, October 14, 2013

Michael Read's Remembers The Channel

At the 2013 Global Open Water Swimming Conference in Cork, Ireland, old friends Harry Huffaker of Idaho and Michael Read MBE of England were able to catch up on old times and reminiscence about their open water swims of the previous century.

Read described a number of interesting experiences in the English Channel and other locations, from eating and hydrating to escorting and marine life.

Campbell Soup on the Channel

Read recalls fueling during his English Channel swims. "I was always trying to raise money for my swims so I wrote to Campbell Soup which had a factory not too far away from my home.

They said, 'We won’t give you money, but we will give crates of Campbell Soup.'

The thing with me is that I never had a team with me. The observer on the boat would look after me. So on this particular crossing, I swam for an hour and the observer asked me at my first feeding, 'What soup would you like?'

I said, 'Tomato soup is fine. Tomato soup is my favorite.' So I swam for another hour after drinking the first cup of tomato soup because I ate every hour. But when I stopped and asked for another feeding, the observer said, 'Ahhh, we ate your tomato soup, what would you prefer?'

So it was celery and lettuce. Every feeding that came after, there was every excuse under the sun for giving me a different type of soup: they drank it, it tipped over, they burnt it on the stove, the boat hit something. So it was oxtail next and then mulligatawny. Well five hours and feedings after this and I happened to swallow some water. Then everything came back up: tomato, lettuce and celery, oxtail, and mulligatawny.

So what I say is, 'Eat what you like and what likes you.'"

King of the Channel® Competition

There are few individuals with Read's experiences in the English Channel. His race with Des Renford to be the King of the Channel® during the 1979 season was classic. “Des told me that he was done with his crossings, but then he snuck in 2 crossings before he left for Australia. He did his last one on September 1st of that 1979 season.

So my season started on September 2nd

Incredibly, Read was able to get in six Channel attempts between September 2nd and October 28th. On his last crossing, there was frost on the peddles of Dover. "I was able to complete 3 crossings and I tied Des for the most [at that time]. At the beginning of the year, I was on number 11 and Des was on number 13. Des promised me that he would not do any more crossings. This was at the end of 1978. He said that he wouldn’t come back, but he did. In fact, he did 3 crossings in 1979 and I ended up chasing him every time. I was at 14 to his 16, but when he left on September 1st, I started back up again on September 2nd."

But as the saying goes in the Channel, nothing great is easy.

"I had arranged for my pilot to be at the harbor at 2 am, but he did not show up on the 15th crossing. After Des had gone back home, I was desperate to get my crossings in. So that day, I was watching the boats go out on the high tide. But as I saw the boats go out, I saw this huge catamaran coming into. I told the captain that I would pay him since he was headed to France anyway. I had an BBC crew with me at the time and we convinced him to take us.

We told him that he had to travel at the speed of the swimmer which ended up to be 1 mph for 20 hours which surprised him He unfurled his sail just a wee bit. But he had to start using his engine when it got dark. He had to stop every 15 minutes to clean the sparky plugs. It ended up being my longest crossing ever in 20 hours 5 minutes on a catamaran Twinnie The Pooh

Pushing His Way Across The Channel

Around his tenth crossing, Read was using Eric Burton as his pilot. The pilot was based in Sandwich which is a ways away. "I met him a few hours before high water. When we set off not from Dover, but from the River Stour where he was located. The narrow channel was marked by triangle channel buoys. He ran straight up on the sandbar when the tide was pouring out.

I tried to push his boat off the sand bar. Try as I might, we ended up missing the tide and that window of opportunity. I probably did because he always said, 'The wind will be better tomorrow.'

Crewing With The Legendary Captain Hutchinson

My first three crossings were with Len Hutchinson [the Captain Leonard Hutchinson, an Honour Pilot in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame]. He was brilliant, absolutely brilliant."

Cross Bay Escorts

Read once did a 17-mile cross bay swim in England's Lake District where everyone had a canoe to escort them across the bay. Read recalls, "Right from the start, everyone is taking off in a different direction than me. After an hour, I asked my kayaker, 'Where are we going?' He said, 'I was following you.' I told him, 'I have news for you, I was following you!'

Trouble In Toroneos

Read has competed in the International Swimming Marathon of Toroneos Gulf in northern Greece 20 times. "I breathe to the right and my boat captain boated to the left. I swam the entire 27 km distance looking at the boat in front of me. The boat was not there as far as I was concerned. So for 6 hours, I had no food or drink. By the sixth hour, I had caught up with another boat. Swimmers being what they are, the crew gave me water. They asked me, 'Where's your boat? What about that boat? I told them, 'That boat has nothing to do with me.'

As we got towards the finish, a friend George Mathis came out and he got on the boat that was following me. George asks the pilot about me and the pilot says, 'He is doing fine. He can see me.' The problem was that the captain insisted on being on my blind side and never fed me. I only fed a few times during the race due to the help of the other swimmer

Kalamata Marine Friend

During the Swimming Marathon of the Messinian Gulf in southern Greece between Kalamata and Koroni, Read remembers swimming with an unlikely friend, "The entire way, all 13 hours, I was accompanied by a little fish darting in and out around me. I was fascinated by the little fish."

Swimming with Seals

In Scotland, he did a 23-mile river swim in 10 hours under the Two Tay Bridge. "The thing that I remember when I swam under the Central Arh of the Tay Bridge. It was only 3 feet deep, but I also got bashed by a seal that hit in on the stomach and completely knocked the wind out of me."

Double Crossings

Read is nothing if not persistent. He completed a total of 33 crossings and attempted another 12 more crossings during his career including five attempts at a two-way crossing. On his best effort, he was in the water for 29 hours and spent 5 hours doing the last mile. "When I stopped, I am not swimming another yard. But the crew put the ladder out for me at 29 hours. That is what I wanted, but didn't need. Once the ladder was out, I touched it and the attempt was over."

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

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