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2016 WOWSA AWARD WINNERS
2016 WOWSA Man of the Year – Nejib Belhedi
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Thursday, August 27, 2015
Swimming To 300 For A Fellow Swimmer
On September 6th, the Night Train Swimmers are on a mission for a beginner swimmer
This time in the process of helping raise US$100,000 to help Arthur Renowitzky walk again after being paralyzed by a gun shot wound to his spine, they will attempt to set the distance record for a 6-person open water swimming relay.
"Arthur was a normal 18-year-old kid when he walked to his car one night," recalls Vito Bialla. "He was confronted by four youth and quickly shot over a $20 robbery. The bullet went in to his neck and he was in a coma for six days. When he woke up, he said he didn’t want to live given that he was paralyzed from the chest down."
After hearing about Renowitzky's unfortunate turn of events, Bialla turned to his fellow Night Train Swimmers and decided to head towards the water's edge and do something on his behalf.
With water temperatures in the San Francisco Bay hovering around 55°F, Bialla and friends will try to reach the mythical 300-mile (482.2 km) mark while swimming non-stop around the San Francisco Bay. Adhering to standard English Channel relay rules, Bialla and five friends will swim continuously in 1-hour individual rotations for an estimated 5 days in a fund-raising attempt. In addition to setting a distance record [currently held a team from India, called The Sea Hawks, that swam for 269 miles (433 km) over 6 days off the Konkan Coast in western India), the team wants to raise money to help get Renowitzky literally back on his feet.
"Fast forward to seven years after his injury, Arthur has turned his life around and has become a Night Train Swimmer," says Bialla. "Back in 2008, the founders swam their first relay across the English Channel. Then came all kinds of swims from the Sea of Cortez to Lake Powell with numerous accomplishments by the individual Night Train Swimmers. We continue to thrive, raising money for the Marines, Semper Fi.org, The Navy Seal Foundation, Wounded Warrior Program, Reed School District, Lighthouse Foundation and youth swimming programs in Marin City and San Rafael."
Now it is time to help Renowitzky.
"This week on September 6th at 10 am near the San Francisco Yacht Club, the Night Train Swimmers will begin a six-person relay in an attempt to regain our world record for the longest relay ever. Our goal is to swim 300 miles non-stop. In the process, we hope to raise US$50,000 to be able to make Arthur walk again by outfitting him with a exoskeleton REWALK suit.
The suit allows him to walk around with simple crutches and a battery-powered body suit. Walking and standing up has been his dream for the last 7 years. The technology to walk is now here, but not inexpensive. Arthur is now so motivated that he has also become a role model for our children’s program.
Arthur has also spent some time in the pool lately and now has his sights set on a gold medal in the upcoming Paralympics. He didn’t know how to swim, but after a few lessons he rocks and we can barely get him out of the water now."
Their progress onto the 300-mile mark can be followed at www.nighttrainswimmers.org. Donations can be made here. For more information on Renowinsky, visit here.
"As we near the finish, if you are a boater come out and follow us, start a parade and cheer us on," requests Bialla. "We will be as far south as the Giants Stadium and as far north as Benicia. Tide willing and our endurance holding up, we will each swim some 50 miles in five days."
“Our team of swimmers are some of the fastest and mentally toughest in the world and we pride ourselves in channeling this energy to give back to the community—this time to help give the gift of mobility to Arthur. Our swimmers include Grace van der Byl, Dave Holscher, Kim Chambers, Adam Eilath, Ashley Horne and me.”
In comparison to the Night Train Swimmers' 300-mile (482.2 km) attempt, some of the longest relays over the last two decades include:
1993: Sun Rice Australia (Sunrice Australia Channel Relay Team) was a pioneering six-man relay from Australia that completed the first 136 km four-way crossing of the English Channel in 43 hours 7 minutes in 1993 with Des Renford as the team's tactician and swimmers Cyril Baldock, Michael Renford, Baden Green, Greg Stewart, Peter Tibbets and Kevin Neilsen.
1996: Mediterranean International Swimming Relay Race was a 93 km Malta-to-Sicily open water swimming (4-person) competition between Australia, Italy, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Hungary on July 19th - 20th 1996 that started from St. Julians Bay in Malta and finished at Marina di Modica in Sicily, Italy. The Australian team won in 19 hours 11 minutes and included Melissa Cunningham, Shelley Taylor-Smith, Joe Mitchell and Grant Robinson on 20-minute legs with Chris Guesdon as their manager and tactician. Note: 1996 was the only year of a successful crossing. Both the 1995 Mediterranean International Swimming Relay Race and 1997 Mediterranean International Swimming Relay Race were held, but all the participating teams failed to finish. 1st: Australia (19:11), 2nd: Italy (19:15), 3rd: Czech Republic (20:42), 4th: Slovenia (20:46), 5th: Hungary (20:56).
2007: Sport City Mexico was a six-member relay from Mexico City that completed the second 136 km four-way crossing of the English Channel in 42 hours 11 minutes in August 2007. The members included Mariel Hawley, Jorge Urreta, Luis Pineyro, Omar Díaz González, Alejandro Moreno, and Mayalen Noriega with coach Rodolfo Aznar, Dr. Alexander Kormanovsky, escort pilot Mike Oram and co-pilot Lance Oram.
2008: Lake Cane Relay: 2 teams of 50 swimmers, each doing 2 km, who covered 100 km in 37 hours 6 minutes in Lake Cane in Orlando, Florida, USA under the leadership of Dr. Lucky Meisenheimer in December 2008.
2009: Taupo x 3 (or Lake Taupo Three-way Relay) were two separate 6-person male and female relays that swam 126 km (78.2 miles) in a three-way crossing of Lake Taupo, New Zealand between January 5th - 6th 2009. The men's team finished in 33 hours 31 minutes 15 seconds and included Steve Junk (Australia), Mark Cockroft (New Zealand), Dougal Hunt (Australia), Chris Palfrey (Australia), and Stephen Spence (Australia) with New Zealand legend Philip Rush as the escort pilot. The women’s team finished in 33 hours 33 minutes 45 seconds and included Julie Bradshaw (England), Michelle Macy (USA), Barbara Pellick (Australia), Penny Palfrey (Australia), Lucy Roper (England), and Heather Osborn (New Zealand).
2009: The Camlough Team was a relay of 220 swimmers who swam non-stop 685.5 km (426.5 miles) in Camlough Lake in northern Ireland for 232 hours 52 minutes over 9 nights and 10 days in 2009 under the leadership of Aoife McCourt-Lynch and Pádraig Mallon.
2010: Mexican American Unity Swim was a 3-man, 3-woman relay that swam 200 km (108 nautical miles) in Lake Powell, Utah, USA on September 24th-26th 2010. The three American men and three Mexican women swam for 55 hours, 20 minutes 25 seconds and included Patty Kohlman, Edna Llorens, Nora Toledano, Captain Vito Bialla, Matthew Davie, and Phil Cutti with observer Steven Munatones.
2010: Ventura Deep Six was a 6-man relay that swam 325 km (202 miles) down the California coast from Ventura to La Jolla Cove near San Diego. The men from Ventura County Masters Swim Club included Tom Ball, Kurtis Baron, John Chung, Jim McConica, Jim Neitz and Mike Shaffer who swam for 4 days 5 hours 39.53 minutes (101 hours 39 minutes and 53 seconds) in September 16th - 20th 2010.
2011: Windermere 12-way Warriors was a 6-person relay that swam 202 km (126 statute miles) in a 12-way crossing of Windermere in the Lake District of England. The team included Liane Llewellyn, Thomas Noblett, Keith Bartolo, Michelle Lefton, Michelle Sharples and Dee Llewellyn who swam non-stop for over 3 days, a total of 75 hours 32 minutes from May 27th - 30th in 10°C water.
2012: Marina Martinique Marathon was a 6-person relay that swam 350 km in a 3.1 km loop course within Marina Martinique in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa between March 21st - 25th 2012. The team included Ralph West, Brenton Williams, JC van Wyk, Greg Tucker, Russell Tucker and Sanmarie Woithe.
2013: Team FTD was a 6-person relay that completed an unprecedented 6-way 121.2-mile (195 km) Catalina Channel crossing in 61 hours 7 minutes from 10-13 July 2013. The team included Forrest Nelson, Becky Jackman-Beeler, Mike Mitchell, Kent Nicholas, Emily Evans, and Tina Neill. The team was captained by pilot John Pittman on the vessel Outrider with observers Carol Sing, Donald Van Cleve, and Adam Moine.
2013: Night Train Swimmers was a 2-woman, 4-man relay that swam 367 km (228 miles) along the California coast from Gaviota State Park to a small beach near the San Diego Yacht Club. The team included Phil Cutti, David Holscher, Zach Jirkovsky, Luane Rowe, Blair Cannon, and Grace van der Byl swam between 22-26 August 2013, escorted by Captain Vito Bialla, navigator Hal McCormick and observer Patrick Horn for 100 hours 28 minutes between August 22nd - 26th 2013.
2014: Cyprus Israel Swim was a 6-man relay that swam 380 km (235 miles) from Cyprus to Israel in 123 hours 10 minutes. The team swam from Paphos Port Cyprus in Cyprus at 2:20 pm on October 5th and finished south of Rishon, Israel at 5:30 pm on October 10th and included Udi Erell, Doron Amosi, Ben Enosh, Ori Sela, Oded Rahav, and Luc Chetboun with a support crew of Erez Amir, captain Nimrod Or and Uri Brown.
2014: Delphinus was a 6-person team of Indian Air Force personnel who swam 286 km (177.7 miles) clockwise around Mumbai, India on October 28th-30th in 49 hours 44 minutes with Wing Commander Paramour Singh, Sergeant Gullupilli Narhari, Sergeant Ankar Kumar Patel, Sergeant S Sriharim, Corporal Aneesh Singh and Leading Aircraftsman Vicky Tokas.
2015: The Sea Hawk was a 6-person team who swam 433 km over a 6-day period in 156 hours between February 13th-19th. The Sea Hawk completed the charity swim on behalf of Project Nanhi Kali that supports the cause of education of the underprivileged girls in India and included Wing Commander Paramour Singh, Sergeant Gullupilli Narhari, Sergeant Ankar Kumar Patel, Leading Aircraftsman Vicky Tokas, Assistant Sub-inspector Ganesh Palande of the Mumbai Police, and Manav Mehta who swam from Dona Paula in Goa along the Konkan coast to the Gateway of India in Mumbai, India.
Photo shows Night Train Swimmers finishing a 228-mile non-stop relay down the California coast between August 22nd-26th 2013 by Phil Cutti, David Holscher, Zach Jirkovsky, Luane Rowe, Blair Cannon, and Grace van der Byl.
Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association
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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.
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