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Friday, November 15, 2013

A Ballerina Soars In The Open Water

Kimberly Chambers route to the top of the channel swimming world was an entirely unlikely one.

With the Cook Strait, English Channel, Catalina Channel, Molokai Channel, and Strait of Gibraltar under her belt, she only has the Tsugaru Channel and the North Channel to complete in order to achieve the Oceans Seven. But no one - including Chambers herself - would have guessed that she would be bubbling on top of the marathon swimming rankings back in 2007.

Six years ago, the then 30-year-old former ballerina was diagnosed with Acute Compartment Syndrome of her right leg after an inadvertent fall down a staircase on her way to work.

"I was literally 30 minutes from having my right leg amputated from the knee down. With this condition, all the blood flow to the nerves in my leg was impaired and my leg essentially began to die."

For someone who had been active and athletic all her life, this possibility was traumatic. Fortunately, her doctors explored every possible option and destiny intervened. There was still just enough blood flow to operate and perform an emergency fasciotomy which saved her leg.

"Once the doctors saved my leg, I was expected to be disabled for the rest of my life. I would have to wear an ankle-foot brace in order to be able to walk." But Chambers was not about to simply accept the what then seemed her unfortunate fate. "I attended physical therapy sessions full-time for 2 years following my injury. I didn't work and focused on the therapy, but I still walked with a limp and could neither walk long distances nor run. So, I figured, 'Maybe I could remember how to swim? I learned how to swim in primary school [in New Zealand] as part of our water safety and physical education."

Chambers literally took baby steps. "I started with small goals in a pool in October 2009. Then in November 2009, a friend from the pool dared me to swim in the San Francisco Bay. I jumped in 53ºF (11.6ºC) in just a swimsuit, swim cap and goggles. I loved it. I was hooked!" Once hooked, she looked for more outlets for her new passion. "I joined the Dolphin Club in December 2009 and swam my first open water swim from Alcatraz on my 33rd birthday on June 12th 2010. I gathered a small group of Dolphin Club friends and nicknamed the swim 'The First Annual Kiwi Invitational Escape from Alcatraz!'"

She even made T-shirts and celebrated the physical breakthrough with a hearty gusto that she has become known for. "Alcatraz was my first open water swim. I'm now a medical case study for making a rare and remarkable recovery." But little did she know then that she would be stepping up her distance and soon on her way to new challenges. "I was introduced to Vito Bialla in February 2011. He took an interest in my enthusiasm for open water swimming even though he later told me that 'I couldn't swim my way out of a paper bag - with flippers on.' Vito believed in me and invited me to be an alternate swimmer for the [30-mile] Farallon Islands relay team. One team member had to pull out for personal reasons. So I got the call. On both May 20th 2011 and then again on June 4th 2011, I participated in two Farallon relays. I organized the second relay myself as the first all-women's relay to the Islands. I completed a few more relays that year including the Manhattan Island circumnavigation and the English Channel."

The hook was deep.

"I decided to attempt a solo across the English Channel just a few days after my relay. Most people thought I was mad, but I simply wanted an adventure and to get a taste for a solo." She didn't make her initial English Channel attempt, but that only gave her more incentive to continue. "I vowed I would return and so I joined a masters swimming team - the North Bay Aquatics Masters - at the end of 2011 and decided my first successful solo would be at home in New Zealand. On March 5th 2012, I swam the Cook Strait. My obsession and love for open water swimming was officially born."

This year has been a true coming-out for the former ballerina with her Strait of Gibraltar in May in 4 hours 39 minutes, the Catalina Channel in July in 11 hours 26 minutes, the English Channel in September in 12 hours 12 minutes.

As part of the 2013 WOWSA Awards, Chambers was nominated as the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year with the following nomination, "Kimberley Chambers was 30 minutes from having her leg amputated after a traumatic fall down a flight of stairs. Nearly all hope had evaporated in the hospital, but destiny ultimately intervened. After her leg was saved, she took up swimming in order to avoid being disabled and unable to walk. After a difficult two-year rehabilitation period, she learned to love swimming and those in the sport. This year, she has blossomed in ways she could not have imagined before. She completed the Strait of Gibraltar in May, the Catalina Channel in July, and the English Channel in September en route towards her goal of achieving the Oceans Seven. For her optimistic view of life, for her deep sense of appreciation of her teammates and supporters, for her utter joy in the discovery of her vast potential, Kimberley Chambers is a worthy nominee for the 2013 World Open Swimming Woman of the Year."

Her fellow nominees include:

1. Anna-Carin Nordin, The Oceans Seven First (Sweden)
2. Charlotte Brynn, Channel Swimmer and Aquatic Adventurist (New Zealand)
3. Diana Nyad, Xtreme Dreamer (U.S.A.)
4. Kimberley Chambers, Ballerina Soars in the Open Water (New Zealand)
5. Lorna Cochran, Near-nonagenarian Navigates Nirvana (South Africa)
6. Lynn Kubasek, Volunteer Extraordinaire In The Pacific (U.S.A.)
7. Martina Grimaldi, World Champion Racer (Italy)
8. Michelle Macy, Reaching the Summit of the Oceans Seven (U.S.A.)
9. Nadia Ben Bahtane, A Maternal Moroccan Miracle (Morocco)
10. Nuala Moore, Going to the Extremes (Ireland)
11. Olga Kozydub, Professional Marathon Swimming Champion (Russia)
12. Poliana Okimoto, 3-time World Championship Medalist (Brazil)
13. Sarah Thomas, Double Crosser (U.S.A.)
14. Sally Minty-Gravett, 5 Decades in the Making (Jersey)
15. Shelley Taylor-Smith, Serving with Distinction (Australia)

Online voting takes place here.

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.

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...

OWSM-CM

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...
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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.
LEARN MORE...

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:
https://www.worldopenwaterswimmingassociation.com/preview-open-water-swimming-almanac


The trends are very clear.
The tide is rising for open water swimming.

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