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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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2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference

Learn more...
Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.


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

Swim Across the English Channel...


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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.

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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.

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