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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Powerhouse - 1990 USA National Open Water Swim Team

Records in the English Channel do not fall with regularity like pool swimming records. Rather, records in the English Channel generally take decades to fall.

A record like Philip Rush's 3-way (England-to-France-to-England-to-France) crossing of 28 hours 21 minutes was set in 1987 and has not been touched yet.

Other athletes in the Channel similarly set standards that are long-lasting.

The 1990 relay of Americans Jay Wilkerson, Chad Hundeby, Martha Jahn, Karen Burton, Dirk Bouma, and Sid Cassidy set not only the long-standing England-to-France relay record of 6 hours 52 minutes, but they also set the France-to-England relay record coming back in the second leg of their two-way crossing in 7 hours 26 minutes and remain the fastest overall and fastest 2-way relay (England-to-France-to-England) in 14 hours 18 minutes in 1990.

Penny Dean was the head coach while John York served as the assistant coach. "John and I were prepared to swim," explains Dean about the team. "I decided as the head USA Swimming national team coach that I shouldn't swim and John was such a good coach that I asked him to coach instead. He was fine with that."

The team was stacked with talent, expertise and experience. Penny Dean was not only the overall solo record holder in the English Channel, but also the overall solo record holder in the Catalina Channel. York was the double-crossing record holder in the Catalina Channel who had completed numerous solo crossings across the Catalina Channel and English Channel.

Hundeby would later set the English Channel one-way crossing himself while Burton would later win a bronze medal in the 25 km FINA World Championships and win two FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix overall titles. Jahn won a silver medal in the 25 km FINA World Championships the next year in Perth.

"There's no playing around to it," said Wilkerson about swimming in the ocean. "You've got waves slapping in your face, and you're fighting that current. You're in another world. You beg for your second wind to come."

There was always a second wind with this fast sextet of experienced ocean swimmer.

But this team was basically doing a warm-up swim for their main goal which was to compete in the British Long Distance Swimming Association's 25 km Windermere International Championships. "Wilkerson, Hundeby, Jahn and Burton had qualified for the championships at the USA National Open Water Swimming Championships and they were on their way to Windermere," recalls Cassidy who was then Wilkerson's coach at Florida State University.

"Penny really organized a great trip. We went over to Dover as a training trip for the Windermere event. We stayed in a small place and filled up half of the rooms, eating bangers and mash. Penny's idea was to get acclimated to the cold water that the athletes would experience in Windermere. Dirk Bouma was a friend of Karen's who was planning to do his solo English Channel crossing that summer. So he was ready to go and a really good swimmer. Penny asked me if I would swim about 6 months ahead of time. I was coaching Jay at Florida State University at the time in my early 30s. I was out of it but I had 6 months to train and did not want to disappoint the young swimmers."

With Wilkerson, Hundeby, Jahn, Burton, and Bouma young, in shape and in the middle of their careers, Cassidy had to - and did - step up to meet the challenge.

But there was still the challenge of the Channel. Nothing is a given, especially in the pre-GPS era.

"Chad was really fast, but he was also deathly afraid of the dark," remembers Cassidy. "So Jay led off at 4 am with the girls - Martha and Karen - going next also swimming in the dark. Jay swam with this glow-in-the-dark necklace and the fog was so thick. The visibility was between only 10 to 120 feet. We knew it was daylight, but we still could not see the sun. But the swimmers were going fast and we had been swimming for 5 hours when I got in around 9 to 10 am. The fog was still thick when I jumped in, but then it burned off during my leg.

Suddenly, we could see France and people on the boat got really excited. I gave it my all and then Jay sprinted in to complete the crossing.

When I got out, I was dead. I could see Jay swimming into France in the water which was in the high 50's. But I was happy with my leg. But when I got out of the water, I heard a discussion going onboard and wondered what the issue was. Penny came over to me and told me that she had both good news and bad news. 'What's the good news?' I asked.

'We are going to crush the record...' Penny said smiling. 'And we decided to do a double crossing and swim back...' is the bad news
."

With the young athletes heading back, Cassidy sucked it up and put in another good leg on the crossing back to England. "We came across some really giant jellyfish; at first we thought they were big trash bags. Then we came across a giant tanker, but these were 5 great athletes who were able to put in 2 good legs each. We had a great crew and we knew the conditions could have been worse."

As the sun was setting on the way back, the six Americans completed their two-way crossing whose time of 14 hours 18 minutes still stands 24 years later.

The team had a day of rest and then headed up to Windermere where Hundeby got sick, but Wilkerson won the men's race and Jahn and Burton went 1-2 in the women's 25 km.

"I still think that experience motivated Hundeby to head back 4 years later when he set the English Channel record (in 7 hours 17 minutes)," says Cassidy.

But for a training swim meant to prepare the athletes for Windermere, that two-way crossing is one for the record books.

Photo shows Jay Wilkerson, Chad Hundeby, Martha Jahn, Karen Burton, Dick Bouma, Sid Cassidy, Penny Dean, John York, and Flip Darr.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

1 comment:

  1. Haha ... Thanks for the memory Steve ... and thank you team ... Especially you Penny!
    That was certainly a GLORY DAY! :)

    ReplyDelete

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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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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