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Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Hardened Crowd Heads To Connecticut

Just as the Who's Who of channel swimmers heads to Dover every summer and multitudes of triathletes head to Kona every October, the open water swimming crème de la crème of East Coast America came out to the inaugural Cold Water Challenge in Fairfield, Connecticut last November.

Whether it is the International Winter Swimming Association, the International Ice Swimming Association or winter swimming associations in China or the Czech Republic, jumping into water from 0-5ºC is becoming as hip as it is heroic. Never before has cold water swimming (a relative term) or ice swimming (a specific term) been as popular, locally or globally.

Connecticut is one of those pockets - like Melbourne and Rio de Janeiro - where the community of open water swimmers has established for reasons that may be a combination of its proximity to the ocean, its overall marine mindset, and the success of early personable pioneers in the sport.

Connecticut has been long known as North America's equivalent to Europe's Isle of Jersey and Africa's Cape Town where both these communities have the unusual penchant for developing renowned marathon and channel swimmers. Headlined by swimmers like Liz Fry and Dr. Marcy MacDonald, the New England community is close-knit and supportive of hardened cold-water swimmers of any age, ability and background. From Maine to Rhode Island, from Vermont to Massachusetts, pods of swimmers who venture out in the cold water year-round are challenging themselves to go faster, further and colder.

On the West Coast of America, Aquatic Park and La Jolla Cove are the gotta-do-it cold watering holes of winter. In the Midwest, the go-to venues are in Lake Michigan and Indianapolis. In the South, Tampa Bay and Tennessee come to mind. Their equivalents on the East Coasts of America are Coney Island and Connecticut. All eight locations are the year-round training grounds for people - generally over the age of 40 - who have the time, talents and temperment to train for the English Channel, Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming and, ultimately, the Oceans Seven and unprecedented solo swims around the world.

As these individuals push themselves to go faster, further and colder, their training regimens must change. They push push themselves in training faster, further and colder. Taking a page out of their European channel training manual, these cold-water marathon swimmers are swimming earlier and earlier into the winter. Essentially, preparation has become a year-round, non-stop, ever-dynamic training. Just as 60 is said to be the new 50; 50 is said to be the new 40; and 40 is said to be the new 30 (related to chronological years), so it is with the water temperature. 60ºF is the new 50ºF; 50ºF is the new 40ºCF; and 40ºF is the new 30ºF (where there is a mixture of salt and fresh water). What is judged to be impossible or undesirable in the 20th century is now deemed to be fashionable and desirable.

When these athletes push themselves to the nether regions of cold and the upper regions of distance, they discuss and congratulate each other on Facebook. This phenomena further brings together the community and the vortex of new goal-setting and new swims continues to spin faster. "If she can do it, so can I so the mindset goes," explains Steven Munatones of the World Open Water Swimming Association. "This may be oversimplying and inaccurately reading the tea leaves of the open water swimming world, but women seem to want to become part of the social fabric of swimming while men seem to want to do one better than their swim buddy. But just as the competitiveness of the men and the camaraderie of the women is clear to see, women can be just competitive with each other and men are just as collegial with their mates, whether they swim with them in person or only know them through online social networks."

Andy Davis (shown above), one of the co-founders of the 5.2-mile Cold Water Classic along with Liz Fry, Jim Bayles and Kevin Lederer, explains their cold-water competition. "What started as a few local swimmers who enjoy getting outside in April and May for open water swims has developed into the establishment of fall and early spring swimming challenges that are a lot of fun. We anticipate 25 to 40 participants in the Cold Water Classic this May. It all depends on how cold the water will be."

The goal of this May’s Cold Water Classic swim is to create a safe event targeted for marathon swimmers with experience swimming in sub-60 degree water. "Our goal is to host a local event held in a low-key environment where swimmers can continue to acclimate themselves to the season ahead," describes Davis. In a course pioneered and popularized by the event founders off the shoreline of Connecticut, the elite of East Coast marathon and ice swimming community - from Elaine Howley to David Barra - are expected to come out to enjoy the swim from jetty to jetty at Penfield Beach.

"Jim and Liz introduced me to cold water swimming several years ago," recalls Davis. "We like to get the most out of swimming outside in the Long Island Sound during the year before heading back to the pool. Typically we go from mid- to late April to early November. We‘ve swum in water as cold as 50ºF (10ºC) which is our personal threshold."

Bioprene-proud Barra was ecstatic about last year's Cold Water Classic. "The event was great fun. It was an intimate field, but due to the fact that these late season events are so few, the Cold Water Classic managed to attract swimmers from Maine to Delaware. We enjoyed pretty flat water and an unseasonably warm autumn day made it a fun post-swim social gathering."

Judging from the buzz, it is going to be quite some 2014...and the Cold Water Classic will help kick it off.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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Thank you very much for your interest in the world of open water swimming.

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

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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.

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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