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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year Nominees

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

The nominees for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year are an impressive and courageous group of individuals with exceptional exploits, histories and lifestyles.

The nominees come from all over the world, although there are undoubtedly many other deserving individuals who were not named in addition to these individuals. Each one of the 2017 nominees makes a significant impact locally, nationally, and internationally, but there are always swimmers who accomplish remarkable feats and achieve mind-boggling goals that go under the radar.

The WOWSA Awards are not necessarily for the best athletes, but are meant to honor the men and women who:

* best embody the spirit of open water swimming,
* possess the sense of adventure, tenacity and perseverance that open water swimmers are known for, and
* have most positively influenced the world of open water swimming in calendar year 2017.

To vote for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year via a global online poll, visit the WOWSA Awards here and register to vote.

The nominees for the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year are as follows:

1. Barbados Open Water Swimming Festival with Kristina Evelyn & Zary Evelyn (Barbados)
2. Khitindra Chandra Baishya (Bangladesh)
3. Sven Eckardt (Germany)
4. India National Open Long Distance Swimming Championship Escort Rowers (India)
5. Margarita Llorens Bagur (Spain)
6. Igor Lukin (Russia)
7. Madswimmer by Jean Craven (South Africa)
8. Marc-Antoine Olivier (France)
9. Stephen Rouch (USA)
10. Jason Snell (UK)
11. Christof Wandratsch (Germany)
12. Wild Swimming Brothers (Great Britain)

2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year nominees:

1. Barbados Open Water Swimming Festival with Kristina Evelyn & Zary Evelyn (Barbados)

Kristina Evelyn and Zary Evelyn have delivered Barbados to the international open water swimming community. Through Kristina’s ubiquitous, omnipresent social media promotions, through their hosting of Olympians and well-known personalities at the Barbados Open Water Swimming Festival, and through their combined efforts to establish and welcome swimmers and influence-makers around the world, Evelyn has created the ambiance and footprint of Barbados that is only shared among much more established and older events. The husband-and-wife team recruits their children, parents, cousins, and various friends to put on an outstanding event as they expertly stretch an extremely limited budget while serving as hosts to swimmers from dozens of countries. For their constant promotional and organizational efforts that put Barbados on the global open water swimming map, for their creative marketing programs and initiatives that utilize the natural beauty of Barbados, for their relentlessly positive, year-round, comprehensive approach to organizing the multi-event Barbados Open Water Swimming Festival, Kristina Evelyn and Zary Evelyn’s efforts at the Barbados Open Water Swimming Festival is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

2. Khitindra Chandra Baishya (Bangladesh)

Khitindra Chandra Baishya is not well-known among the English Channel swimming crowd or elite FINA professional marathon competitors, but his solo marathon swim of 146 km down the Kangha River in Bangladesh took him an agonizing 43 hours 25 minutes. His swim was both massively impressive and profoundly simple, especially considered he swam without goggles and well-equipped escort boats. For coming back out of retirement and completing his farewell swim in his native land at the age of 66, for organizing a solo, non-stop marathon swim observed by government officials, media representatives and sports personalities, for pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the open water, Khitindra Chandra Baishya’s marathon swim is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

3. Sven Eckardt (Germany)

Sven Eckardt, known as Dr. Svimmm in his native Germany, is a paraplegic with cerebral paralysis who loves swimming. The 47-year-old hotel consultant with a doctorate in engineering crossed widthwise across Lake Constance (Bodenseequerung), the largest lake in Germany, despite having paralyzed legs. For his 5 hour 33 minute crossing that was the first crossing of the Bodensee by a handicapped swimmer, for his palpable joy in achieving his lifelong dream to complete a marathon swim, for working to encourage other disabled people to set their own goals and realize their dreams, Sven Eckardt’s Bodensee crossing is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

4. India National Open Long Distance Swimming Championship Escort Rowers (India)

The escort rowers for solo swimmers in the annual 81 km India National Open Long Distance Swimming Championship perform otherworldly feats that are unprecedented in the annals of known open water swimming history. They begin paddling days before one of the world’s longest marathon swims from their homes, sleeping where and when they can. Then they escort swimmers for at least 10 hours in the downstream races of the Ganges in India. After the race, they continue paddling back home for a very minimal amount of compensation. For their selfless dedication to the sport of marathon swimming, for their annual multi-day pilgrimage to and from the national Indian competition in its 74th year, and for keeping swimmers safe, hydrated and straight for hours on end in blistering hot conditions, the escort rowers at the India National Open Long Distance Swimming Championship are worthy nominees for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

5. Margarita Llorens Bagur (Spain)

Margarita Llorens Bagur has been making several epic attempts in the Balearic Islands archipelago in her native Spain. This year, she made a valiant 37-hour attempt to swim 90 km between Ibiza and Javea in Islas Baleares. The 49-year-old president and inspiration of the Menorca Channel Swimming Association trained with a 42 km 11 hour 54 minute swim along the Costa Brava from Roses to Port Boy and then took on her challenge. She swam and swam and swam for 73 km before difficult conditions and adverse currents led her crew to abort her pioneering attempt. For braving the elements and facing another disappointment with understanding that Mother Nature always has the upper hand in massively long marathon swims, for her admirable persistence in making extremely difficult channel attempts while she continues to help others realize their dreams, for her humble nature in concert with her escort kayaker and husband Francisco Siscu Pons, 'Tita' Llorens Bagur’s 90 km channel attempt is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

6. Igor Lukin (Russia)

Igor Lukin was the overall winner in the 2016-2017 International Winter Swimming Association World Cup. While dominating his 60-64 age group, the Petrozavodsk native dominated the 25m and 30m butterfly, 25m, 30m and 50m breaststroke, 25m, 50m, 60m, 100m, 120m, 200m, and 240m freestyle races in Jelgava’s Roni Open Cup in Latvia, the Russian Pacific Open Cup in Russia, the Big Chill Swim in England, the Taierzhuang International Winter Swimming Festival in China, and the Pirita Open in Estonia. For his dominating performance on the International Winter Swimming World Cup circuit, for his versatility in swimming fast in cold water, for representing his region and country very well in a fast-growing sport, Igor Lukin’s season performance on the International Winter Swimming Association World Cup circuit is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

7. Madswimmer by Jean Craven (South Africa)

Madswimmer has been raising funds for charitable causes throughout its existence, raising a total of over US$700,000. This year, Madswimmer was particularly busy with four unique swims: the 7.9 km Pan-American Colibrí Crossing between California, USA and Tijuana, Mexico in May with 12 swimmers, the 94.7 km Balaeric Island Challenge, a four-day stage swim around the Spanish island of Ibiza in September with 10 swimmers, the 34 km Bazaruto Island Swim in Mozambique in October with 20 swimmers, and the 100 km Great Shark Swim in the fast-moving Agulhas Current from Park Rynie to Port Edward South Africa in December where the fastest 100 km non-stop ocean swim in history will be attempted. Madswimmer founder Jean Craven recruited charitable-minded swimmers from multiple countries to participate in different extreme pioneering swims. For continuing to care for children and their fellow citizens by providing funds and awareness to myriad causes, for designing, organizing and attempting unprecedented swims of unique nature in beautiful locations, for helping push the frontiers of physical and mental boundaries among their swimming contemporaries around the world, Madswimmer’s charity swims are worthy nominees for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

8. Marc-Antoine Olivier (France)

Marc-Antoine Olivier had the best overall performance among the male open water swimmers at the 2017 FINA World Swimming Championships. The 21-year-old Frenchman kicked off his campaign in Lake Balaton in Hungary with a gold medal performance in the 5 km race, then backed it up with a bronze medal in the 10 km race, finishing only 0.7 seconds behind Olympic gold medalist Ferry Weertman. Then he culminated his week with a blazing fast anchor leg on France’s gold medal winning 5 km team race. His 12:08.7 leg over the 1.25 km course was the fastest split of the relay that France needed to hold off the Americans and Italians. For rising to the occasion among the world’s fastest open water swimmers, for being consistently competitive and medaling in all three of his races with 2 gold and 1 bronze, for continuing podium performances after winning a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Marc-Antoine Olivier’s races at the 2017 FINA Championships is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

9. Stephen Rouch (USA)

Stephen Rouch started his 2017 season extremely strong, finishing first overall in the S.C.A.R. Swim Challenge in Arizona completing the 13.3 km, 14.1 km, 22.8 km and 9 km lake crossings in 16 hours 48 minutes in defending his 2016 title at the 4-day stage swim in Arizona. The 37-year-old software developer then became the fastest man in history to complete all 7 stages of the 193 km 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim in a cumulative time of 35 hours 28 minutes. He also tied for 2nd overall at the Swim The Suck in Tennessee in 3 hours 30 minutes, completed the 14.8 Chattanooga Swim Fest in Tennessee, won the men’s division at the 25 km Border Buster cross-border swim in Quebec/Vermont, completed the 10 km Swim to the Moon in Michigan, and culminated his season setting a new course record in the 30 km Three Rivers Marathon Swim in Pennsylvania with John Humenik. For his year-round focus on training and traveling to marathon swims around the United States, for his 16 successes in his 16 attempts, for his encouragement and support of his fellow swimmers with a core essence of humility and kindness, Stephen Rouch’s year-round marathon performance is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

10. Jason Snell (Great Britain)

Jason Snell completed one of the most unique endurance athletes in the world. Quiet and unassuming, the British mountaineer and channel swimmer from Perth in Western Australia became the eighth person in history to complete the Peak and Pond Challenge - a combination of summiting Mount Everest and crossing the English Channel. At the age of 51, he not only achieved the elusive Peak and Pond, but also completed it in the shortest time period ever: 16 months from climbing Mount Everest to walking up on the shoreline of France after a 16 hour 30 minute crossing of the English Channel. The two sports are not physically complementary, but they both require an extremely tough mindset and demand a high level of commitment. For his flawless strategy in summiting the highest mountain in the world and swimming across the world’s most renowned channel, for realizing his dream to become one of history's very few athletes to achieve Peak and Pond, for maintaining his health, strength and dreams as a 51-year-old, Jason Snell's Peak and Pond Challenge is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

11. Christof Wandratsch (Germany)

Christof Wandratsch has always been a flat-out fast world-class swimmer across channels, in lakes, down rivers, and in seas and oceans, but he is expanding his expertise to ice swimming and event organization. The 51-year-old strategically developed his local area in Bavaria as the showpiece and center of the ice swimming community and teaches ice swimming classes and camps to schoolchildren and adults in Burghausen. He competed in numerous races at the 2017 Ice Swimming Aqua Sphere World Championships and German Open in his native Germany as he also helped organize and promote the rapidly emerging sport in Lake Wöhrsee. He faced the pressure of simultaneously competing, administrating and promoting with his signature professionalism. For winning the 100m medley, 200m breaststroke, and 50m, 200m, 200m, 500m and 1 km freestyles in the 50+ age group, and finishing 3rd overall in the 200m freestyle, 2nd overall in the 500m freestyle, and 3rd overall in the 200m breaststroke, for his cool-headed administration and inspirational ambassadorship in the ice swimming community, and for his non-stop action before, during and after the World Championships, Christof Wandratsch’s year-round work is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

12. Wild Swimming Brothers (Great Britain)

Wild Swimming Brothers - Calum, Jack, and Robbie Hudson - are adventure-seeking adrenaline junkies who pursue aquatic challenges in risk-taking locations. They take a different spin on the sport of open water swimming than hardened bioprene solo channel swimmers or elite competitive swimmers racing in closed flat-water circuits. The Hudson Brothers embody the spirit of wild swimming and enjoying challenging epic swims in various open bodies of water around their native Great Britain and across the globe. They launched a new YouTube channel aimed at wild swimming, both for veterans and newcomers of this exciting, exploding niche. For creating entertaining videos and short stories from their expeditions and tours of their jaw-dropping aquatic journeys, for providing tips and advice on how to get into and enjoy wild swimming, for bringing their extroverted personalities to add color, humor and excitement to wild swimming, the Wild Swimming Brothers’ creativity is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

To register and vote on the WOWSA Awards and the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year here.

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