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2016 WOWSA AWARD WINNERS
2016 WOWSA Man of the Year – Nejib Belhedi
2016 WOWSA Woman of the Year – Jaimie Monahan
2016 WOWSA Performance of the Year – Sarah Thomas’ Lake Powell Swim
2016 WOWSA Offering of the Year – Samsung Bosphorus Cross Continental Swim
Saturday, July 30, 2016
Joining The Olympic Family Via IOC Universality Programme
While the eyes of the swimming world at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games will be on athletes like Michael Phelps, the attention of the swimming community is smaller, less renowned swimming nations will be on their own athletic representatives in Rio de Janeiro beginning on August 5th.
20-year-old Geoffrey Butler and 21-year-old Lara Butler are such Olympians.
The brother and sister developed their pool and open water swimming prowess in the Cayman Islands, but both decided to continue their studies overseas. As Geoffrey focused on distance freestyle, his older sister Lara focused on backstroke and butterfly.
Both of them qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games (Geoffrey in the 400m freestyle and Lara in the 100m backstroke) by virtue of being selected for the Olympics through the IOC’s Universality Programme. In the pool swimming events, athletes qualify by exceeding the minimum time standards, but the IOC allows certain exceptions to that rule via its Universality Programme. The programme allows countries to nominate swimming or track athletes where it lacks athletes who have not quite reached the Olympic qualifying times.
In most cases, the best athletes from a given country are awarded those slots in the IOC Universality Programme. For example, both Geoffrey and Lara have been selected as the Cayman Islands Swimmers of the Year.
"When I was 5 years old, my mum attended swimming classes," Lara recalled, "Because we lived on an island, she wanted to make sure I knew how to swim and it went from there."
Their dedication to the sport certainly gave them numerous opportunities to represent their country around the world. "It [is] an amazing honor to represent my country and wear the Cayman Islands flag proudly," Lara says. "[Competing at Rio 2016] means everything, it is the biggest achievement in swimming, period. Every swim meet and competition leads up to it and it is everyone's main dream. I have put a lot into swimming and sacrificed a lot to be where I am today and I wouldn't change it for anything."
Geoffrey is equally excited about the Olympics. "Rio 2016 is a dream for me, I've wanted to go to the Olympics since I watched the Athens Olympics in 2004. I am so proud to be from the Cayman Islands, it has always been my home and I love representing Cayman. Representing Cayman on the stage of the biggest sporting event in the world would be the greatest honor I could ever imagine."
But not all is rosy when chasing the Olympic dream.
John Leonard of the World Swimming Coaches Association knows of numerous cases when a swimmer has been either the #1 or #2 swimmer in a country, but they were not selected. Instead, a lower ranked swimmer - sometimes significantly slower - is chosen by the administrative powers in that country.
This favoritism - and nepotism in some cases - has been going on the decades and has been described as one of the major obstacles to development in the non-major swimming world. Coaches and administrators know that "no matter what certain swimmers do, no matter how fast they swim, they will not be selected to represent their country unless they are politically favored within their own national governing body."
But many these swimmers and coaches keep silent about this problem.
The selection of athletes by the National Federations must be approved by each of the National Olympic Committees. Coaches who wish to remain anonymous know that "one often finds business deals being made between Federation Committee members and National Olympic Committee members to ensure the selection of what usually boils down to the children or relatives of those doing the deals. Nepotism and favoritism is rampant and almost impossible to stop."
But for every relative* and friend being selected over a more deserving athlete, it is always good to see the outcome of the IOC Universality Programme when deserving athletes like Geoffrey and Lara Butler take such a long road and deep pride in representing their country.
Photo above shows father Steve, brother Simon, mother Maria, sister Lara, and brother Geoffrey Butler.
* Cindy Boren of the Washington Post writes here about Robel Habte of Ethopia.
Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association
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Open Water Swimming Magazine
Open Water Swimming MagazineThe 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 SwimmingAn 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.