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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Mike Bodger's 60th Birthday Present

Story and photos are courtesy of Kirsten Cameron about Dr. Mike Bodger's attempt to swim the Cook Strait as a 60th birthday present to himself in February 2010.

This past week, our household had felt it had become experts on weather and tides. All day every day we have been checking the Met Service and discussing intently the possible implications of every isobar on that fabulously unpredictable stretch of water called Cook Strait. However, after the glorious day on Saturday and things not being ‘quite right’ for a good swim, we had rapidly come to the conclusion that despite everything we had been studying we knew stuff all about the weather.

So at around 7.30 pm on Monday night Mike's mobile rings. As we had every other night since his window began, we all jumped. But this time Mike picks it up and says, “Your names Phil and I am off.” And this time the response was “Yes. Be at Mana Cruising Club between 4.30am and 4.45am tomorrow morning.”

We were all on! Then began the packing and preparation. Making the honey sandwiches, mixing up the drinks, the warm clothes, plus all the comforts that us poor sods were going to need on the support boat. At some point, probably far later than was ideal we got to bed for something that came some distance from a good nights sleep.

3.45am the alarms go and we are all up, bags in the car and away to Mana. It was a completely calm morning, a bit nippy still, but apparently it usually is at that hour.

We arrived at Mana and waited anxiously for Phil[ip Rush] and the crew to arrive. The crew consisted of Chris whose boat it was, Byron who co-skippered and plotted the map, Phil of course, and Paul who was to be Phil's sidekick on the IRB. Supporters were me, Mike's partner Keith, and Mike’s brother Pat.

We got all the gear loaded onto the boat and then it was a trip to the toilet block for one last go on land. There was only a small marine toilet on the boat so best to do what we could before we got on board.

Anyway, we were off, motoring out of Mana and heading down to the strait. It was just getting light and the sea was so calm. Not a breath of wind. We poked our noses out and Chris and Byron decided South to North was best, so over the strait we went to Perano head on Arapawa Island. We got there around 7am – about 90 minutes by boat. The sun was out by now and the sea was like glass, with this wide southerly swell drifting by. About half a metre – the height that a swimmer would barely notice.

So then began the final prep. Last toilet stop for Mike – in the marine toilet, then it was time to get those sexy leopard print togs on. And just to clarify, they are Fabiola Molini togs, not Speedos.

Then the next bit was for Phil to don the rubber gloves and get the industrial strength lubricant out. Commonly known as axel grease, this is the stuff that they use to grease trucks ‘nuts’. So to speak.

Next, Mike says cheerio and leaps into the IRB, nearly over-shooting it in his eagerness to start swimming.

The IRB nips over to the cliffs, and Mike is thrown over the side of the IRB into the sea. He swims over to the cliff, touches it and he's off. By now on the boat, we were just bloody hungry so as soon as that was out of the way, it was breakfast, and then contemplate what we were going to do for the rest of the day.

He started off swimming really straight. His stroke looked good, long and strong and he was moving well. The tide was not pulling him down towards Tory Channel as they would have expected. Which is a good thing on one hand, but as it turned out was not so great as when the tide went the other way so much more strongly, he drifted too far north.

It was really just so lovely out there. A bit nippy still – the water was 15.1ºC, just glassy with the lazy swell. The sun burnt off the clouds by around 10am and it started to warm up for us on the boat – the water however remained around 15ºC, although Mike didn’t really notice it.

I had contemplated going for a swim – out the other side of the boat of course. But I tell you what, if I wasn’t sure that Cook Strait was too cold for me to swim in before this, I am more than certain now. I actually didn’t take my fleece off all day, and I had two woollen tops on under it.

For us on the boat, there actually wasn’t a lot to do. Although the swell had little impact on Mike swimming, for us in a launch chugging along really slowly, it actually wasn’t that great as it provided enough movement to make doing anything a wee bit of a challenge – especially if you were a little afraid of getting seasick. Little did we know what we had to come. We spent the time just going from the back of the boat, to the roof, to the cabin, talking: those boys have some stories to tell I can assure you, taking pictures, texting people with updates. Under different circumstances the bottle of wine I had brought with me might have come out, and food would have provided a good focus. We did make Keith wait until midday before he could eat lunch as we assured him it would make the day go quicker.

By lunchtime Mike was more or less halfway, and the wind was just starting to pick up. Nothing too dramatic but we were just aware of it and unsure as to how much it would pick up by.

A little while later, in the midst of the afternoon shift (i.e., having a wee catnap out the back of the boat in the sun), we were rudely awakened by a chopper – TV3 had come to visit.

So that was a real boost to everyone’s morale. At this point, the wind was much stronger and there were quite a few whitecaps around, but finding out that he only had 8 km to go, we felt really confident that it was all looking great. Mike was still in great spirits, smiling, completely lucid, enjoying his honey sandwiches, although his stroke had slowed a wee bit.

Then within the hour things had changed completely. The wind had got up to a 25 knot northerly, and the swell a 2m southerly. Combine the two and it was a complete washing machine out there. One of the radio stations asked Keith what was hard about the day so far. He said, “Hanging on.”

We had to back right away from Mike, as it was getting too dangerous for us to get too close. We had battened down the hatches well and truly and began to just move up and down behind him. Chris would say, “OK, hang on we are going around again.” And we would take this wide circle battling the waves – up and down, up and down, then a brief respite as we went in a line for a while back down past him, then around we would go and come back up again.

We were still pretty confident he could do it at this stage as the tide was starting to change so we were hoping in the eddy he would get through enough distance to get him close enough to make the last dash. However, the tide turned quickly and started pulling really fast. By 3pm when Byron took his position, he hadn’t moved forward enough and was being dragged north.

We crossed our fingers as best we could while we were hanging on, and willed Mike on. Next position was no better, in fact he was now moving due north. At 4pm Phil told Mike there was a bit of a problem, and after that we felt he had picked up. But the tide was moving way faster and he was going still further north. With the curve of the coast he went from being 5km away from shore to being 7km away. Pat and I discussed seriously telling him to swim to Mana – he was heading that way anyway. At worst, he could always hang around Mana Island on the tides for three days.

We looked at when the next tide was. Three hours away. So that would mean Mike battling on for another three hours in the hope that when the tide turned he could make a break. But who knows where he would be by that point, not to mention how much energy he would have left after battling the waves, winds and tides.

Around 5pm, Phil put it to Mike. He wasn’t too cold, he wasn’t sick, he was just knackered, so to keep battling for another three hours – wasn’t going to happen. He said he was coming in.

They pulled him into the IRB remarkably easily and came back to the boat. Getting from the IRB to the boat also went remarkably smoothly as it could seriously have been a problem. He still managed a smile as he came on board. First thing was the get some clothes on him. And get his togs off him.

He had to sit down for a minute and then he started heaving. After 9½ hours in the water, then to sit upright on the boat must have been hard. Everyone was impressed with his heaving – he was pretty loud. So then he was brought inside and wrapped up in blankets. I can assure you that although I hadn’t felt sick all day, then being able to see and smell someone else's sick was enough to all but set me off. I spent the trip back to Mana sitting outside in the fresh air.

Mike went straight to sleep, flat on his back snoring. And we headed back to Mana – a trip that took us the best part of two hours. By then we were all craving land – our hearts sank when they told us it would take that long. It was amazing how calm it was further north, and before we knew it, we were back, with the TV crew and DomPost waiting for him.

After his nap, Mike was in fine form. Chocolate biscuits first up, and then back in the togs for some photo shoots. Eventually we got away and were back home about 8.30pm with Fish and Chips for tea, complete with the feeling that we were still rocking and rolling. Once in bed, I know I had to put my hand on the wall to assure myself I really wasn’t still moving.

All in all, it was a fantastic day and a fantastic experience. He didn’t quite get to the finish, but in the grand scheme of things when you consider how much he did achieve, it was more than awesome. He swam in total 29km. The strait is actually only 23km. It is such a fickle stretch of water that not making it across invariably has very little to do with how good a swimmer you are. And after Tuesday, I can well understand why. As Sir Edmund Hillary said of Mt Everest, you don’t conquer it, it relents.

I feel really honoured to have been there with Keith and Pat on the boat. As we all said, now we know how the whole thing goes, we are looking forward to Mike doing it again next year.

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