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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Great Moves In Open Water Swimming History – Lac St-Jean

The World Open Water Swimming Association offers a series of talks about open water swimming. One series includes Great Moves In Open Water Swimming History.

This is Part 2.

The professional marathon swimming world has seen innumerable great races throughout its history. Some races have been won by guts, some won by strategy, some by navigational decisions, and others by physical talent or mental focus.

But when two athletes are evenly matched, their moves and countermoves are a joy to observe.

One of the best combination of moves and countermoves in the 21st century was the mano-a-mano battle against the reigning world 25 km champion Valerio Cleri of Italy and American Alex Meyer in Québec's lac St-Jean.

The two men were pitted against each other at the World Open Water Swimming Championships in the most famed professional marathon swimming venue in the world. At a time of typically unpredictable cool water temperatures, the event was the last race in the 2010 Championships that had seen all kinds of upsets and unexpected medalists on the podium.

Considering the 16C water, the pace was relatively slow for the first 15 km while Cleri and Meyer darted in and out of position among the leaders. Neither competitor was interested in leading for anytime other than the last stroke. Both were content to sit back and let their rivals take the reins and lead the men’s field.

As the race continued past the 15 km mark, the men’s lead pack whittled down due to attrition and pacing around the 2.5 km loop course on the western shores of lac St-Jean. But Cleri and Meyer were both like lanolin under the armpits; they just would not go away. No one in the field was about to drop these two fierce competitors.

By the last loop, it was clear that Cleri and Meyer were both going to find their place on the podium, but the odds clearly favored the Italian. An American man had not won a world 25 km championship since 1991 while Cleri was one of the most experienced open water swimmers on the Planet. With one last feeding stop, the two knew exactly what they had left in their tanks. As they eyed each other, it was like two heavyweight boxers gearing up for the final round. Both took their feeds as they figuratively met in the center of the ring.

Then Cleri bolted in the lead with Meyer in the chase position. Cleri went down the final straightaway to the left and Meyer clung to the right. Then they shifted positions like kindergarteners played a round of musical chairs as they quickly opened up a gap on third-place Petar Stoychev. Around the last turn buoy where the men made a 90° left-shoulder turn, it was the veteran Cleri with a quarter-body-length lead.

But Meyer was always considered a fast closer and Cleri could feel and see him off to his left. After 5 hours, the knowledgeable spectators that filled the stands were enjoying every stroke. The official’s boat, head referee’s boat, and media boats sandwiched the two warriors who were intent to use every tool in their arsenal. Even with the lead and less than 250 meters to the finish pad, Cleri made a tactical decision to veer Meyer off the straight-line tangent. Both men were sprinting hard with their trademark 6-beat kick. Cleri was just slightly in the lead with Meyer hand entry between Cleri’s mid-torso and shoulders.

As Cleri started to veer slightly left, Meyer had no choice but to either initiate contact or swim parallel to the Italian. With the head referee Jorge Delgado of Ecuador standing up on the nearby official’s boat and intently staring at the moves of the two men, Meyer was not about to get a red flag so close to the finish – as he had a year earlier at the 2009 World Championships in Rome where Cleri had claimed gold.

So Cleri veered left and so swam Meyer out of necessity. At first, the angle was only slight but as the men got closer to the finish, the angle became more acute. As they stroked together in parallel, the men went off 10° from the rhumb line to the finish. Pushing Meyer just a shade to the left meant Cleri would have the shortest and closest distance to the finish once he shifted back towards the rhumb line. So he decided to veer even greater, 20°…then 30°…then the men made the officials boat swing wide as they were nearly 45° off the rhumb line. Cleri had literally pushed Meyer off-course, but had done so gradually over the course of 150 meters. Stroke-by-stroke, the veering was performed subtly but in aggregate the men had clearly swum more than 30-40 meters farther than necessary.

Still with less than 100 meters to go, it was a classic race-to-the-finish that the professional marathon swimmers are known for. A silver-medal performance was not bad for the young American graduate from Harvard University. But Meyer was not about to let Cleri win so easily.

In the blink of an eye, Meyer shifted quickly to the right crossing over the calves of the surprised Italian. But he didn’t take a beeline to the finish as that might have resulted in a red-card-worthy act of physicality. Meyer swung wide, very wide, of his rival. As soon as Cleri felt Meyer shift the balance of power on him, he also bolted right.

Again both men started to swim parallel to one another, but not immediately towards the finish. Meyer was swimming wide, hopefully to “cut the corner” around the Italian’s right side.

Incredibly, the last 250 meters of the course was turning into a 350m zigzagging maze of moves and countermoves. The crowd loved it and the officials boats quickly followed suit, following the swimmers.

First left and now right, Meyer kept on charging forward but not directly towards the finish pad. Cleri and Meyer were not equidistant from the finish, but neither man was swimming straight for it. Angled right, Meyer had the momentum and finally was able to break through and cut the corner around Cleri.

Once Meyer had the edge, the two men bolted straight for the finish. While just moments before, Cleri had been in the driver’s seat, Meyer was now the lead horse and the victory would be his barring any last-second stumble over the last 50 meters.

"I know that Cleri wasn't taking a straight path and he was trying to cut me off when I tired to swim on a course to the finish," recalls Meyer. "I felt that I am a better sprinter, and I knew that if we were even or if we were stopped dead in the water with 50 metres to go, I was sure I could get to the touch pad first."

As his Italian teammates were shocked with the rapid turn of events, so too were Meyer’s American teammates whose whistles and cheers increased in intensity. Meyer was able to hold off Cleri as he won by a stroke and 1.1 seconds in a time of 5:32.39.3.

* Great Moves In Open Water Swimming History - Lake Michigan is here
* Great Moves In Open Water Swimming History - Mount Everest is here
* Great Moves In Open Water Swimming History - Marine Stadium is here
* Great Moves In Open Water Swimming History - Beijing is here
* Great Moves in Open Water Swimming History - Rome is here

Copyright © 2014 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

5:30

PM


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

9:00

AM


Registration and Coffee at Mount Stuart House, Isle of Bute, Scotland

10:00

AM


Keynote Speech:
Colleen Blair (Scotland) on The History of Scottish Swimming

10:20

AM


Christopher Guesdon (Australia) on Multidimensional Roles In The Sport

10:30

AM


Colin Hill (England) on Recent Explosion in UK Open Water

10:50

AM


Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia) on The Feminine Code of Achievement - How a Lady from Down Under Revolutionized Professional Marathon Swimming

11:10

AM


Simon Murie (England) on Open Water Swimming Holidays: How A New Sector Was Created Within The Travel Industry

11:30

AM


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)

12:30

PM


Coffee and Break

1:00

PM


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]


2:30

PM


Alexey Salmin Pavlovich (Russia) and Dmitry Dragozhilov (Russia)
on the 2016 Winter Swimming World Championships [film]

2:50

PM


Sally Minty-Gravett (Jersey) on Motivating Swimmers

3:10

PM


Dmitry Blokhin (Russia) and Aleksei Veller (Russia)
on the First World Ice Swimming Championships [film]

3:30

PM


Matthew Moseley (USA)’s Dancing With The Water, Crossing of Lake Pontchartrain [film]

3:50

PM


Simon Holliday (England) and Doug Woodring (Hong Kong)’s The Clean Swim – Hong Kong to Macau 2014 [film]

5:00

PM


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]

6:30

PM


International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) Introduction Video.
Welcome speech by host Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia)

6:45

PM


Dinner

7:30

PM


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

9:00

AM


Registration and coffee at Mount Stuart House, Isle of Bute, Scotland

10:00

AM


Nuala Moore (Ireland) on The Mindset of 1000m at 0ºC

10:20

AM


Admiral Konstantin Sidenko (Russia)’s Bering Strait Swim Chukotka - Alaska in 2013 [film]

10:40

AM


Ned Denison (Ireland) on Swimming The World

11:00

AM


Bruckner Chase (USA)’s Blue Journey-Amerika Samoa
Stronger Together: The Waterman’s Way
[film]

11:20

AM


Rok Kerin (Slovenia) on Lifestyle Benefits From Open Water Swimming

12:00

PM


Survey distribution and group photo-taking

2:00

PM


Swim at Stravvana Bay, Isle of Bute






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."


Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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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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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.

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The trends are very clear.
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