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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How Tough Are You?

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

When we observe open water swimmers around the world, certain nationalities always impress us.

The South Africans are freakily tough. The Irish are notoriously hard-core. The Australians are mind-boggling adventurous.

There are also certain areas where the tough are an especially hardened group: Melbourne and Murmansk. Beijing and Boston. Cork and Coney Island. Year-round swimming is a given for these swimmers, not an exception: in London, Prague, and San Francisco.

From their perspective, water is water and it is always accessible unless it is frozen.

What is it that creates these swimmers so incredibly tough and tenacious? Why do they perpetually have a wealth of grit and an abundance of optimism? Why do they always seem to accept the inherent risks of the open water and smile while doing so?

Is it their inherent DNA? Their upbringing? The ambiance of their local swimming community? The environment in which they live? Their mindset?

The answer is they have the Right Stuff, a combination of all of those.

One of those tough, hardened swimmers is Ram Barkai of South Africa, founder of the International Ice Swimming Association who has done a number of unprecedented swims. His workouts are tough and his mindset is even more so.

We asked him about the short swims that he does in South Africa, mostly done in 10-14ºC (50-57ºF) water. he explained three such swims:

"Swims under 5 km are considered difficult only because of of conditions. We do have some unofficial short swims that I consider tough for various reasons:"

1. Barker Rock 2-mile swim in Clifton where the water temperature is usually around 11-12ºC. The swim is 1-mile out straight into the big ocean, around a massive rock, and back to shore.

Barkai explains its difficulty, "You face the open Atlantic Ocean where it is cold and rough with no protection, and plenty of currents and swells. There are great white sharks in the area, especially if you leave the protection of the bay. The rock is massive and creates a huge suction. if you miscalculate the distance - you may spend few days under this rock."

2. Around Hout Bay through Seal Island, a stretch of 3-5 km.

Barkai describes the adventure, "The swim starts at Hout Bay and is fairly easy, But once out the bay, you turn north and swim through a patch that is extremely unpredictable. You swim past the Dungeon - one of the top 10 surfing places in the world. It has its name due to the massive swell that can erect itself from nowhere. There is a lot of reef there - which gives that freaky shore swell - and currents thats sways you in all directions. It also takes you next to few small islands covered with thousands of seals. Although we never seen a shark there on Seal Island, it is a scary territory because the other Seal Island in False Bay is known to be the deadliest seal island in the world."

3. Around Cape Point, part of the longer 9 km swim around Cape Point

Barkai talks about a shorter 3 km course where swimmers can start circumnavigating the Point. "It's a place with many submerged rocks that lead to fear waves that are very dangerous to the boats and swimmers. It can be very rough, while it can be very calm on both sides of the point. It also known to have the largest Great Whites seen in South African Waters."

The Right Stuff indeed.

Photo shows swimmers in the Swim for Hope event around Cape Point, South Africa.

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.

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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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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