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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What Is The Hardest Week Of Swimming In The World?

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Donal Buckley, an Irish channel swimmer, wrote in Lone Swimmer, "...Cork Distance Week is a combination of mass delusion and fringe cult for marathon swimmers. It's often called the toughest week of open water swimming in the world."

The Cork Distance Week is a marathon swimming preparation camp designed by International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator Ned Denison. Held in Sandycove Island in Cork, Ireland as its base, the training camp combines high mileage in cold seas with significant psychological stress. Its goal? To help its participants achieve their marathon swimming and channel swimming goals.

But is it the toughest week of open water swimming in the world?

What about the Swim the Kingdom Week, organized by Phil White? The 8-day series of open water swims and marathon swims in 8 different lakes in Vermont requires swimmers to handle rough water conditions under constantly dynamic conditions covering 45 miles (72 km)? The Swim the Kingdom Week includes the 5-mile Crystal Swim, the 4-mile Island Pond Swim, the 12 km Echo Swim, the 10 km Seymour Swim, the 14.4 km Massawippi Swim, the 10 km Memphremagog Clubhous-Slash Swim, the 5-mile Willoughby Swim, and the 3-mile Caspian Swim.

What about the 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim, organized by David Barra and Rondi Davies? The 8-day, 7-stage marathon swimming stage swim down the Hudson River in the State of New York covers 120 miles (193 km). It begins at the Rip Van Winkle Bridge near Catskill, New York and ends at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York City, where its swimmers are largely swim downstream, but are frequently surprised by tough conditions.

What about the FINA professional marathon swimming circuit held in Québec in both Lac St-Jean and Lac Memphrémagog? Starting on Thursday, there is a 10 km FINA 10 km Marathon Swimming World Cup race in Lac St-Jean, followed 2 days later by the 32 km Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean, then the athletes shift to another 10 km FINA 10 km Marathon Swimming World Cup race 5 days later in Lac Memphrémagog, a 2 km sprint race the day later and then culminate in the 34 km Traversée Internationale du lac Memphrémagog. That is 88 km of total racing against the world's fastest marathon swimmers in 2 different lakes where water can dip below 15ºC in wind-whipped turbulent conditions.

What is really the toughest week? The Cork Distance Week or the 72 km cumulative distance in Vermont or the 193 km in New York or the 88 km in Québec?

All of them are considered difficult to the world's marathon swimming community. Each has their own challenges.

Swim the Kingdom Week is relentless, especially since each day presents the swimmers with a new venue and new conditions.

8 Bridges Hudson River Swim is just plain long, uncompromising and unforgiving. No other way to describe the 193 km of river swimming.

The FINA pro circuit in Québec is only for the very best and fastest who are capable of swimming fast for about 20 hours cumulatively.

But the Cork Distance Week is different. It is unique and...unknown. While the other week-long events includes variables coming in the form of water and weather conditions, the start and finish points and distances are understood ahead of time. These events are known entities. Challenging, yes. Difficult, without a doubt. But they are races where personal escorts are provided and fans are abundant.

But in Cork, the challenge is more personal and stressful. Not only are the locations and distances unknown, but Denison and his volunteer crew go out of their way to place psychological pressure on the swimmers in the hopes the boot camp prepares the swimmers to become better, tougher and stronger endurance athletes.

"It is twice a day workouts for 7 straight days," explains Denison. "Then we do a torture swim [renowned as the Total Brain & Body Confusion Swim] and then the 6-hour qualifying swim [for the English Channel]. The swimmers are mentally and physically exhausted by the time the torture swim arrived."

In the other events in Vermont, New York and Québec, the races are competitions against others. In Cork, the boot camp is an internal struggle where the toughest competitor is one's own mind.

"The instructions to the swimmers are simple," continues the aquatic drill sergeant Denison. "Shut up and do as you are told."

In Vermont, New York and and Québec, the races have fixed courses. In contrast, Denison plays havoc with the swimmers' psyches in Cork. "The swimmers are split into many directions: some up a creek, some up the coast south, some up the coast north, some out to sea, and one swimmer was asked to pull a boat. Hey you never know when the prop will go and if it is a half mile from France, what will you do?. The swimmers are told to change directions...many times."

But, of course, the swimmers in Cork are also followed so safety is never in question. But their escorts offer some swimmers drinks that are solid frozen or full of rocks that are meant to sink in front of their eyes. "Or sometimes, the drinks offered to the swimmers are withdrawn after acceptance," devilishly explains Denison.

While in Vermont, New York and and Québec, the races are occasionally blessed with tranquil conditions. But calm conditions are simply a catalyst to cause Denison's mind to go into override. "This year, we circled one swimmer for 3 minutes [in a boat going] at high speed kicking up 11ºC water and a few waves.

But the worse was probably Zara Bullen who confessed that she had been freaked [out] by a dead bird and [has] a paranoia of birds generally. So, I pulled out a raw mackeral fillet and waived it in the air. At least 50 birds took off from the Island and I tossed it and another one in front of the poor girl to draw a few birds on her
."

As open water swimmers often say, "Our sport is 80% in the mind."

And it is this double-edge sword that Denison wields with undeniable precision, creating both physical and psychological havoc that makes the Cork Distance Week undoubtedly the toughest week of open water swimming in the world.

Photo courtesy of Oceans Seven swimmer Adam Walker.

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

5:30

PM


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

9:00

AM


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

10:00

AM


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

10:20

AM


Christopher Guesdon (Australia) on Multidimensional Roles In The Sport

10:30

AM


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

10:50

AM


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

11:10

AM


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

11:30

AM


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)

12:30

PM


Coffee and Break

1:00

PM


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]


2:30

PM


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

2:50

PM


Sally Minty-Gravett (Jersey) on Motivating Swimmers

3:10

PM


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

3:30

PM


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

3:50

PM


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

5:00

PM


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]

6:30

PM


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

6:45

PM


Dinner

7:30

PM


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

9:00

AM


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

10:00

AM


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

10:20

AM


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

10:40

AM


Ned Denison (Ireland) on Swimming The World

11:00

AM


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

11:20

AM


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

12:00

PM


Survey distribution and group photo-taking

2:00

PM


Swim at Stravvana Bay, Isle of Bute






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."


Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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