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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Marathoning From Mozambique To Madagascar

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

On February 28th, an intrepid pair of South African swimmers - Thane Guy Williams and Jonno Proudfoot - set off to make history. By merely walking off the shore of Mozambique and swimming towards the island of Madagascar, they did.

The attempt to cross the Mozambique Channel was historic. Their successful crossing was epic in every sense. They ended up swimming 458.7 km after 155 hours total in the water.

This is their story of their unprecedented charity stage swim from Mozambique to Madagascar:

"We started swimming just south of Nacala, Mozambique on February 28th," describes Williams who had worked relentlessly for months on this unprecedented project and audacious vision. "We started on a random small beach, full off sea urchins. On March 24th, we finished on a beach in Cap St Andre on Madagascar."

Their total distance swum was 458.7 km (285 miles). With the straight line distance being 439 km, they and their crew kept to a remarkably straight tangent across the Mozambique Channel, given all the currents, waves and turbulence. "We had a support rubber duck with a compass which guided us on bearing as we swam 3 sessions per day. It started with 3 hours, 2 hours, and 1 hour. Then after about 6 days, we upped it to 3.5 hours, 2.5 hours, and 1.5 hours. Typically we swam 7.5 hours per day."

Disciplined as they were, they stuck to their plan like clockwork. The typical day would start with wake-up at 4:30 am with the sunrise at 5 am. "We were in the water at 5:30 am and would swim for 3.5 hours. We would stop after 2.5 hours for water. Then it was breakfast on the mothership [the Ocean Adventurer, a yacht]."

They would have a 1.5-hour break over breakfast and then dive back in the water about 10:30 am and swim for 2.5 hours. Day after day without fail, they strictly followed their daily routine. "We came out for tea, coffee and snacks. Again we had an hour to an hour and a half break, and were back in again by 2:30 pm and out the water at 4'ish."

In the channel, the sun sets just after 5 pm. The jellyfish and blue bottles were at their worst in the late afternoon so they tried to be done with each day's effort by 4 pm. But Mother Nature does not always follow swimmers' plans. "Despite our schedule, we got stung a lot. I would have to say thousands of times. It was not too bad, but mostly just an irritation."

Besides the appearance of jellyfish and blue bottles, mechanical issues also caused unexpected problems. "A few sessions were cut short or delayed because of outboard problems on the duck. Idling for so long was not good for the engine. Additionally, both the accelerator and gear lever cable snapped. In the end, it was a makeshift engine with a screw as the accelerator and a chisel as the gear lever. [We used] many spark plugs, but it worked."

458.7 km of ocean swimming, even if spread out over 24 days is difficult. South African tough. Williams explains, "Physically, it was very tough especially in the beginning. I got bicep tendinitis after day 2. It got better after a few days, but was very painful. Jonno had bad problems with his left shoulder as he only breathes to his right."

And there were other problems from sleeping to salt water abrasions. "Our shoulders were always sore, so turning on your side at night would wake you up. All the time! Our mouths also became very raw making warm or spicy food was almost impossible to eat."

But the duo was adaptable to the issues they faced and made the best of situations in the middle of the channel. "It's remarkable how the body adapts, learns to cope, and gets stronger. The toughest part was most certainly the mental aspect. Being in isolation for so many hours a day was hard; it was keeping the mind busy that was tough. Thinking about pain or how much time was remaining made the hours pass slowly."

But the swimmers and crew came to grips out of necessity and internal motivation. "For me, I broke each session into smaller, more manageable segments. Also, once you are in the water and swimming, it became enjoyable rather than being on the boat and thinking about the session that was to come."

As they crossed the massive body of water, their biggest difficulty was the currents. For a few days, currents ran were in their favor, but for most of the swim they faced difficulties as well as marine life. "That part of the ocean is somewhat of a desert. The visibility in the channel was incredible: 40-50 meters deep on most days. We encountered sharks 3 time. That we saw. Two oceanic white tip sharks and one black tip reef shark. The second white tip we saw, we swam with and really enjoyed. The first was quite large, about 2.5 meters, so we let him pass, then carried on. Other than that, there were no real dangers. A few days, we swam through rain squalls with strong winds. That was probably the most dangerous situation. If the ducks engines fail and the wind had to blow it away from us and they lose sight of us, it could have been very bad. But we were very safety conscious. We also saw pilot whales that swam with us. And plenty dolphins. They were amazing. And of course the jellies…"

On the homo sapien side of the equation, there were fortunately no pirates or other such problems. On the contrary, they were boarded by the Madagascar Coast Guard who were very friendly. On their trip back to Mozam, they stopped at a French Island, Juan de Nova. "Here we were detained because they didn’t know what to do with us. It’s a small island with a military base, that’s all. We tried radioing them, but they didn’t respond so we snorkelled ashore. Long story short, 8 hours later and phone calls to Paris, they let us go. But they were actually very nice. Our cell was a boma on the beach, playing rugby with the soldiers and tropical water. So not too bad."

It was an adventure worth retelling over and over again. The team made the adventure happen successfully and safely. "Our team was amazing. It all came together very last minute and we had to fly a crew member up from South Africa the night before we left. Our team was the captain ‘Stormin’ Norman Horner, first mate Vernon ‘Cubby’ Deas, deckhand Bodean Bosogne, and my girlfriend Dr Daphne Lyell. She spent every minute on that duck or sometimes swimming an hour with us. The last team member was David Karpul, a friend who called me two days before we flew to Durban in order to wish us luck. We needed an extra set of eyes. It turned out he was between jobs and was lecturing at Cape Town University. He ending up joining us for the adventure and was a perfect fit as he is an electro-mechanical engineer and had also worked with Professor Tim Noakes at the Sport Science Institute in Cape Town."

Every skill set and worldly experience of the crew was necessary for the unexpected happened. "Everything that could have broke, broke. The was a cyclone in the channel days before we started swimming and now there is another across our route. But I must say that everything worked out perfectly because we managed to complete the swim in 24 days, and managed to swim every day."

It was historic. It was epic. It was unprecedented. It was a true modern-day adventure.

Additional articles on the dynamic duo include:

* It Was A Mad, Mad Swim Across The Mozambique Channel
* Swimming Where No Man Has Swum Before
* Miles Of Smiles From Mozambique To Madagascar

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



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



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



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



Christopher Guesdon (Australia) on Multidimensional Roles In The Sport



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



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



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



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)



Coffee and Break



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]



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



Sally Minty-Gravett (Jersey) on Motivating Swimmers



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



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



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



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]



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






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



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



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



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



Ned Denison (Ireland) on Swimming The World



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



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



Survey distribution and group photo-taking



Swim at Stravvana Bay, Isle of Bute


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

A Thank You Gift from WOWSA

WOWSA is celebrating the
1-Year Anniversary of the monthly Open Water Swimming Magazine
by giving you a free copy of the anniversary issue.

Open Water Swimming Magazine Anniversary Issue
File Size: 13MB


Download the file to your computer, and then right-click to extract the magazine which is inside the zip folder. The magazine is in PDF format.

CLICK HERE to download your free copy now.

Swim Across the English Channel...


Who else is looking for a qualified open water swimming coach to help them swim across the English Channel?

Chloë McCardel is a 6-time English Channel Swimmer who inspires and instructs. Access featured content by Chloë in this month's issue of the Open Water Swimming Magazine. Published monthly by WOWSA, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a digital, interactive publication made available exclusively to WOWSA members. See what you've been missing! Become a WOWSA member today!

Open Water Swimming Magazine

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.

WOWSA Member Benefits include 12 issues of the Open Water Swimming Magazine, the annual 276-page Open Water Swimming Almanac, a free listing in Sponsor My Swim, outstanding product discounts from FINIS, an entry in Openwaterpedia and more...

The Other Shore

The Other Shore follows world record holder and legendary swimmer Diana Nyad as she comes out of a thirty-year retirement to re-attempt an elusive dream: swimming 103 miles non-stop from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage. Her past and present collide in her obsession with a feat that nobody has ever accomplished. At the edge of The Devil’s Triangle, tropical storms, sharks, venomous jellyfish, and one of the strongest ocean currents in the world, all prove to be life-threatening realities. Timothy Wheeler’s documentary brings Diana Nyad’s extraordinary adventure to life as Diana sets out to prove that will and determination are all you need to make the unimaginable possible.

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.

But the farmers almanac was just one example among many.
There are, of course, many different kinds of almanacs.

In fact, there is even one for open water swimming...

Preview the Open Water Swimming Almanac:

The trends are very clear.
The tide is rising for open water swimming.


Open Water Swimming Event Sanctioning

World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation

Open Water Race Calendar

Coaches Education Program