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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Catalina Channel Swimming Back In The Day

Back in 1984 and 1989, Penny Dean and John York, along with a number of other marathon swimmers under the auspices of the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation, organized a USA Long Distance International Championships, a Cross Catalina Channel race, together with USA Swimming.

The 1984 event was the first race across the Catalina Channel since the Wrigley Ocean Marathon in 1927. Dean, Siga Albrecht and Syndi Goldenson were the American coaches, while sailors from Marina del Rey unselfishly donated their time and boats.

York won the Catalina Island-to-mainland race in 8 hours 54 minutes under challenging conditions, finishing on Cabrillo Beach, a few miles further than the traditional landing point near the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes on the San Pedro Peninsula.

1. John York (USA) - 8:54:01
2. Rick Heltzel (USA) - 9:04:12
3. Mohamed Ibrahim Elwakeel (Egypt) - 9:23:06
4. Carol Lee Heltzel (USA) - 9:28:28
5. Alison Streeter (England) - 9:33
6. Lamiaa Zahy (Egypt) - 9:52:30
7. David Morgan (England) - 11:23

The night before the race all the swimmers stayed at the Coast Guard Station on Catalina Island with the volunteers, officials and administrators staying overnight in tents on the island. "One of the highlights of the pre-race activities was a buffalo chip throwing contest for distance won by England's David Morgan," recalls Coach Dean.

The race started at the Isthmus on Catalina Island immediately prior to dawn by the sheriff discharging his magnum pistol into the air. "The weather and ocean conditions were ideal," recalled Dale Petranech, the USA Swimming representative and team manager. "There were a few watch-outs for "SeaWeed" cautions (i.e., shark sightings), but we didn't want to panic the swimmers.

I recall the Egyptian coach would blow his whistle to encourage his swimmer every time he took a breath. The rest of the entourage found this very annoying, but it stopped after American John York passed the Egyptian swimmer. The whistling stopped, but from what we could see, any support (e.g., feeding) was also stopped for the rest of the race."

In addition to the solo swimmers, an international relay was set up to allow all the swimmers to compete in the Catalina Channel race. The winning relay was the USA Swimming national team against an international team of swimmers. The American Team comprised of Jay Wilkerson, Jim McConica, Martha Jahn, Karen Burton, Chad Hundeby and Erika Reetz won in record time. The International Relay with Tom Hilgen (USA), Ossama Momtaz (Egypt), Nancy North (USA), Marien Farid (Egypt), Dr. Jaroslav Novak (Czechoslovakia) and Ayman Mohammed Saad (Egypt) finished in 8:14:05.

Prior to the cross-channel race, there was a 15 km race from Huntington Beach to Seal Beach won by Tom Fristoe in 3 hours 9 minutes, followed by Tom Hilgen, Nancy North and Dr. Jaroslav Novak.

Dean recalls, "The person in charge of getting all the boats and navigation was Ken Jewitt. The person who did publicity and communication was Katy O'Hara did the publicity and was responsible for communications. Dottie York was in charge of the paddlers. We had to get all these people to Catalina Island.

We swam during the day to make it easier and finished at Cabrillo Beach, making it a 25.5-mile crossing. This made the times even more impressive

On August 11th 1989, the USA National Open Water Swim Team again attempt a Catalina Channel relay and set a world record of 7 hours 2 minutes. Coached by Penny Dean, John York and Sid Cassidy, their leadership could be no better. Dean recalls that blazing fast team, "The relay was called the US National Team 1989. The competition was the old record and the clock. We wanted to break seven hours. Conditions were flat and a little wind. We finished at Doctor's Cove, also known as the Boy Scout camp on the Island. Petranech was the head of USA Swimming's open water swimming program and I was the head national coach 1979 through 1991. Eddie Sinnot of SMU went along to watch his college swimmer Chad Hundeby. Chad went sixth because he was afraid of the dark and sharks. This relay cured him of this fear."

Burton (now Reeder), one of the world's fastest pro marathon swimmers of that era, also recalled, "Chad went after me and the escort boat was keeping up with him. I got left in the dust. I swam as fast as I could and had to swim faster to try and catch the darn boat. Someone finally noticed and the boat waited up for me."

Sid Cassidy recalls those halycon days, "We started in the dark from a rocky beach not far from the lighthouse with the paddlers and swimmer wearing the green glow sticks. Jay Wilkerson was the lead-off swimmer followed by Jim McConica because it was still supposed to be dark. It was fairly cool and there were large swells early, becoming choppier later. There was considerable discussion on where best to land in Catalina. We came quickly upon it because there was a pretty healthy marine layer all morning. We steered Jay alongside the island - swimming parallel to a very rocky shoreline looking for a clearing.

There was a wild boar stirring in the brush, eventually making himself visible and looking out to our entourage with great curiosity as if to say, "What the heck are those creatures doing out in the water?" We had minimal electronic equipment [in those days] so we were not totally sure exactly where we were. The land that we first we came upon was certainly inaccessible; there was significant trepidation about sending Jay into that very rocky shoreline. Eventually the hour passed and we got Jim in for the sprint to the beach. Undaunted, he headed him towards a fairly desolate clearing that we had spotted from the boat. We joyously dubbed it 'McConica Cove' in his honor. It was a fantastic experience."

"We has Gatorade on board and had two paddlers who switched every two hours, set up by Dottie York," explained Coach Dean about the logistics. "We had three official timers using watches. For relay exchanges, the new swimmer swam up from behind and tapped the other swimmer on the foot. That swimmer would then race over to the boat and climb aboard as the paddlers guided the new swimmer. The boat would switch out of neutral and gradually catch up to the new swimmer." 25.5 miles in 7 hours 2 minutes. It was, indeed, a blazing fast relay back in the day.

The post-race analyses and recommendations for advancing the sport were formally submitted to then FINA President Bob Helmick. This eventually led to the sport of open water swimming being added as the fifth discipline by FINA.

Photo by Skip Storch shows several members from the 1984 event being honored at the United Nations at the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame including Dale Petranech, John York, Linda Bamford, Paula Selby, David Clark, Carol Sing and Penny Dean.

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

A Thank You Gift from WOWSA

WOWSA is celebrating the
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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.

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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.

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.

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Open Water Swimming Event Sanctioning

World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation

Open Water Race Calendar

Coaches Education Program