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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sarah Thomas Honored By Her Peers With Barra Award

There are very few in the marathon swimming world who elicit the global praise and deeply felt respect and admiration like American marathon swimmer Sarah Thomas.

And so it seemed right when the Marathon Swimmers Forum announced Sarah Thomas as the recipient of its 2013 Barra Award.

Thomas completed two double-crossings in Lake Tahoe and Lake Memphremagog that were collectively described as "Two of the most impressive swims in our sport's history... in six weeks. Mind-boggling stuff," by Marathon Swimmers Forum co-founder Evan Morrison.

Named after famed American channel swimmer David Barra, the Barra Award considers not just swimming achievements, but also the person's full body of work in the sport of marathon swimming according to the Marathon Swimmers Forum.

Thomas, a Colorado native, achieved her first record-setting swim high up in the Sierra Nevada mountains bordering California and Nevada, Thomas swam 44.5 miles in 22 hours 35 minutes in Lake Tahoe. Her second record-setting marathon was in Lake Memphremagog where she swam 50 miles in 30 hours 1 minute. Both swims proved that Thomas was one-of-a-kind ultra-wimmer as she negative split – coming back on her second leg faster than her first even as conditions were never ideal.

Her two-way crossing of Lake Tahoe was done in 11 hours 38 minutes on her first lap and 10 hours 47 minutes on her second lap. Her second two-way crossing of Lake Memphremagog was completed in 30 hours 1 minutes (15 hours 9 minutes on her first lap and 14 hours 46 minutes on her second lap with a 6-minute rest time on shore between the 2 laps).

For her two record swims, Thomas was also nominated for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year. Her nomination reads, “Back and forth, up and way, two-way, and double-crossing. If it involved doing anything in the water twice, Sarah Thomas is on her game. Her two swims in 2013, both the double-crossing of Lake Tahoe and the double-crossing of Lake Memphremagog, were unprecedented. Both unprecedented swims elevated her to the elusive 24-Hour Club status, finishing 44.5 miles in Lake Tahoe in 22 hours 35 minutes and 50 miles in Lake Memphremagog in 30 hours 1 minute. Proving her mettle despite unkind conditions, she negative split both marathon swims. For her willingness to extend herself beyond what others do, for her courage to retrace her strokes in lakes throughout North America, for her two unprecedented two-way crossings, Sarah Thomas is a worthy nominee for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

The 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year nominees include the following:

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)

Thomas' two-way swims are always interesting as she seems to really pick up the pace coming home. Her Lake Memphremagog's double-crossing was no different, although Thomas is always the first to make no guarantees. Prior to her swim, she commented, "I have no plan [to negative-split the two-way swim], but if the wind gives me a push on the way back, it's possible. I'm feeling pretty lucky to have Phil's support, and that of all the people he has rallied together. The swimming community is pretty amazing."

Online voting for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Yeartakes place here and ends tonight.

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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