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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sandy Neilson-Bell Looks Back At The Pool

Sandy Neilson-Bell, together with her husband Dr. Keith Bell, organizes a series of innovative open water swimming events in the Austin, Texas area under the American Swimming Association brand.

The races vary from Money Box Cap 2K and the 12-mile Lake Travis Relay to the five-day Highland Lakes Challenge and the ASA Open Water Collegiate National Championships.

The 1972 Olympic triple gold medal sprinter made a comeback in the 1980’s by getting re-invigorated with open water swimming. She took a look back on a variety of topics, from her Olympic triumphs in Munich to her desire to create an open water swimming oasis among the rolling hill country of Texas.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Can you tell us a little bit about the 1972 Olympics?

Sandy Neilson-Bell: Wow — it was 36 years ago?! At 16 years old, so much just seemed to fly by me. 1972 was a very tumultuous year for the world with Vietnam, the Mid-East conflicts, and protests in our country. I was a naïve 16-year-old who was focused on swimming, school and friends. I lived in a cocoon, as many of us did, protected from the many aforementioned goings-on of the world.

My memories of the Munich Olympics are of the many exciting and controversial athletic performances as well as, of course, the terrifying hostility which resulted in 11 Israelis being murdered. I had been hosted in Israel the year prior to the Games and was extremely affected by this event. Prior to the terrorism, I was very focused on my swimming. That’s what we were there for, after all. At that time, there were minimal distractions from the media.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What was your best time going into Munich?

Sandy Neilson-Bell: 59+

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Did you think you could beat Shane Gould?

Sandy Neilson-Bell: I guess I did. There was huge hype about Shane — this “wonder girl” from Australia, who held numerous world records at that time. Looking back on it, I believe it affected the coaches and managers (and maybe other swimmers) more than it affected me. I usually didn’t pay attention to that kind of thing. My coach and parents were good at helping me maintain confidence under high-pressure situations. I also didn’t look at it as a race between Shane and me. The goal, as usual, was to touch the wall first ahead of everyone. And, up until the Olympics, I was focused on the excellent American competition I had in my own backyard.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: In terms of stroke mechanics, did you swim differently then than you do now?

Sandy Neilson-Bell: My stroke is somewhat similar to then with a 6-beat kick, but when I was sprinting, I had an 8-beat kick with fairly long strokes. What was once thought to be a good dive (get out there, land flat on the water) and streamlined (arms in front of you like superman) is no longer. I have improved on those techniques.

In open water swims I still use a constant kick, but with less effort. My stroke changes with the changing conditions of the open water. I love the challenge of fitting my stroke tempo with the conditions of the open water.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Can you tell us about the 400 freestyle and 400 medley relays? Who were your teammates and your competition?

Sandy Neilson-Bell: We set the 400 medley relay in world record time by at least 25 meters with teammates Melissa Belote (gold medalist in the 100 and 200 backstrokes), Cathy Carr (gold medalist in the 100 breaststroke), Deena Deardruff (finalist in the 100 butterfly) and me anchoring freestyle. The 400 free relay was a nail-biter with me as lead-off, teammates Jenni Kemp and Janie Barkman (then the “old lady” at the age of 23) and Shirley Babashoff anchoring. Shirley started off behind, but finished strong to touch-out the East Germans, in world record time, but by only a fingernail.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: From an athlete’s perspective, what are some differences between the Olympics then (1972) and the Olympics now (2008)?

Sandy Neilson-Bell: There wasn’t such extreme media hype as there is now. You must remember that in 1972 we didn’t have computers or the Internet — huge advertising forces now. Some athletes got built up by the media, but it wasn’t in-your-face as much.

There was no such thing as “endorsements” by swimmers. Even track athletes were only just breaking into that scene. We ran strictly (and that was very strict) according to amateur rules. You couldn’t think of using your skill for profit or even get financial help for expenses. Of course, things like goggles, caps and swim suits are much different now. We were the last set of Olympians to wear the double-lined nylon suits. I did not wear goggles or a cap for my races.


Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Do you know Shane Gould is also very much into open water swimming now? Do you think her new event in Tasmania and your American Swimming Association events in Texas will ever become sister swims?

Sandy Neilson-Bell: I do know that Shane and her husband Milt are doing a great job promoting open water swimming in Australia. I think it is wonderful and would love to connect our swims somehow. And, definitely yes, it would be fun to swim with Shane!

Imagine that...two pool swimming heroes from the 1972 Munich Olympics – Sandy and Shane continuing their marvelous careers in the open water.

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...

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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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