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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

World Open Water Swimming Woman Of The Year Nominees

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

The nominees for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year are an heroic and impressive 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 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 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year via a global online poll, visit the WOWSA Awards here and register to vote.

These nominees for the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year include the following inspirational individuals:

1. Katherine Batts (Great Britain)
2. Dr. Caroline Block (USA)
3. Arianna Bridi (Italy)
4. Chloë McCardel (Australia)
5. Ana Marcela Cunha (Brazil)
6. Pat Gallant-Charette (USA)
7. Ludmila Maller (Russia)
8. Jaimie Monahan (USA)
9. Aurélie Muller (France)
10. Barbara Pozzobón (Italy)
11. Sarah Thomas (USA)
12. Julia Wittig(Germany)

2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year nominees:

1. Katherine Batts (Great Britain)

Katherine Batts has long supported channel swimmers as a fellow relay member, an administrator with the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation, and a coach with The King’s Swimmers. With her 18th career English Channel relay completed in 2017 (on the oldest Ladies team), decades of service to help others achieve their channel swimming dreams (first with the Channel Swimming Association and now with the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation), completed a swim across Lake Tahoe on the latest crossing in history, and as a coach mentoring others on the physical, mental and logistical side of the channel equation, Batts declined numerous invitations since the 1970’s to attempt a solo Channel swim. With her children grown and out of the house, the lifesaving professional was finally able to focus on herself and achieved the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming in 2017. For her four decades of selfless service to benefit and help other swimmers, for her kind, patient demeanor to support others in their dreams, and for her late-season Lake Tahoe crossing and Catalina Channel crossing that enabled her to become a Triple Crowner, Katherine Batts is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

2. Dr. Caroline Block (USA)

Dr. Caroline Block is an American marathon swimmer who attempted to push the boundaries to the extreme in 2017. An anthropologist on dry land, she takes things to a whole new level in the open water. In addition to participating in the U.S. Winter Swimming Association National Championship early in 2017, she set a new women’s course record swimming the 52 km length of Lake George in New York in 19 hours 21 minutes and then embarked on a legendary attempt – a two-way crossing of the bitterly cold, jellyfish-strewn North Channel between Northern Ireland and Scotland. While the best of the best and the most hardened open water swimmers in the world have completed a total of 57 one-way crossings in history, Block followed up on her 2016 North Channel single by attempting the first two-way crossing this August. For swimming 88 km in 12°C water over 28 hours 55 minutes before running into impassable tides, for attempting the most difficult two-way channel crossing in the world, for not relenting until running headlong into insurmountable tides on her return leg, Dr. Caroline Block is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

3. Arianna Bridi (Italy)

Arianna Bridi enjoyed a breakout year in 2017 as she won her first career FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup title. Finishing consistently high (1st in the Patagones-Viedma race in Argentina, 3rd in the Abu Dhabi race in UAE, 4th in the Setúbal Bay race in Portugal, 3rd in lac Mégantic race in Canada, 1st in the Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean in Canada, and 1st in the Hong Kong race), she was a force in every race she swam. She tied for 3rd in the 10 km race and finished 3rd in the 25 km at the FINA World Championships in Hungary. For winning the FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup title, for consistently achieving podium positions on the World Cup circuit and the FINA World Championships, for training at a consistently high level to remain among the world’s fastest swimmers, Arianna Bridi is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

4. Chloë McCardel (Australia)

Chloë McCardel attempted the unthinkable – a solo, non-stop four-way crossing of the English Channel. While she made back and forth in 20 hours 34 minutes, she stopped on her third crossing after completing her 23rd career crossing between England and France. Even though she did not achieve her goal on her first attempt, the dream was established and time will tell if she can reach it. But the 32-year-old is one of the very few athletes in the world with the proper mindset and commitment to realistically train for and attempt the unprecedented crossing. For her forward momentum in going after the most hallowed records in the English Channel with 11 successes over the last 2 seasons, for continuing to coach charity relays across the Channel and inspire others in speeches, for serving as a personable ambassador of the sport that places her among its most legendary athletes, Chloë McCardel is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

5. Ana Marcela Cunha (Brazil)

Ana Marcela Cunha is flat-out fast and non-stop: traveling, competing and medaling around the world. She finished 12th in the FINA World Cup race in the UAE, 5th in the FINA World Cup race in Argentina, 5th in the FINA World Cup race in Portugal, 2nd in the FINA World Cup race in Canada, 1st in the FINA World Cup race in lac Mégantic, Canada, 1st in FINA World Cup race in China, 1st in the Campeonato Brasileiro de Aguas Abertas Brasilia, 1st in the 36 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli in Italy. Additionally, she earned three podium positions at the 2017 FINA World Championships in Hungary and finished 6th in the team race to bring her career total to 9 world championship medals. For winning gold in the 25 km race and bronze in the 5 km and 10 km races in the world championships, for coming back from having her spleen removed in an early-season surgery to finish second overall in the 2017 FINA/HOSA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup circuit, for her constant smile and affable spirit despite long flights, tough conditions and blistering fast races, Ana Marcela Cunha is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

6. Pat Gallant-Charette (USA)

Pat Gallant-Charette continues to amaze year after year. In 2017, the 66-year-old retired nurse become the oldest woman to cross the 42 km Molokai Channel in Hawaii in 23 hours 54 minutes, to complete a 52 km crossing of Lake Ontario in Canada in 24 hours 28 minutes, and to cross the 34 km English Channel in 17 hours 55 minutes. The hard-working, consistently cheerful grandmother has never enjoyed an easy road to her successes as she faces waves, current, marine life and winds, but she always passes Mother Nature’s challenging conditions with an otherworldly determination. For her deeply felt appreciation for all those who support and cheer for her swims, for her visible joy in crossing channels and lakes, for establishing herself as one of the most humble luminaries in the marathon swimming world, Pat Gallant-Charette is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

7. Ludmila Maller (Russia)

Ludmila Maller is hot in a cold community. The Siberian native from Novosibirsk won the 2016-2017 International Winter Swimming Association World Cup women’s title among the crème-de-la-crème of the world’s best and most hardened winter swimmers. Competing in the 55-59 age group, she barely edged out defending champion Jaimie Monahan 536 to 530 points despite only coming in the Russian Pacific Open Cup in Russia, the Taierzhuang International Winter Swimming Festival in China, and the Pirita Open in Estonia. She dominated the winter swimming scene with victories in the 25m and 50m breaststrokes, 25m butterfly, and 25m, 50m, 100m, 200m freestyles. For her dominating performance on the Winter Swimming World Cup circuit, for her versatility in swimming fast in cold water, for representing her region and country very well in a fast-growing sport, Ludmila Maller is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

8. Jaimie Monahan (USA)

Jaimie Monahan seemed to be everywhere, doing everything, in the open water world in 2017. Her presence was ubiquitous around the globe, from cold to warm temperatures, short to long distances, calm to rough conditions. In addition to doing six major marathon swims (winning the 40 Bridges Double Manhattan Island 92 km swim with a new course record of 20 hours 12 minutes, pioneering the first recorded 64 km Lago Maggiore crossing in 24 hours 2 minutes, 40 km lac Memphrémagog, 27 km Rose Pitonof Swim, 20 km Mercer Island Marathon Swim and a 4 km Strait of Magellan crossing), the 38-year-old completed the world's first Ice Sevens Challenge under the International Ice Swimming Association – performing Ice Miles under 5°C in Morocco, Norway, Boston, New Zealand, and Argentina in addition to being a top-ranked swimmer on the International Winter Swimming Association World Cup circuit with races in Latvia, Russia, China, and England. For her impressive versatility in competing in ice swims and warm-water marathons, for balancing a full-time job with a non-stop globetrotting swimming itinerary, and for her efforts as a charismatic ambassador for open water swimming in all forms, Jaimie Monahan is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

9. Aurélie Muller (France)

Aurélie Muller resurrected her career after the ultimate disappointment at being disqualified on the last stroke of the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim to lose a medal. Her recovery was tremendous as she won the 10 km FINA World Championship title in Hungary. But that was not all. At the FINA World Championships, the 27-year-old also earned a silver medal in the 5 km, took a gold in the 5 km team event, and finished 8th in the 25 km race. She also won the greatest prize money due to her victory the FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup in Abu Dhabi and finished 3rd in the 57 km Maratón Acuática Internacional Santa Fe – Coronda in Argentina. For becoming the 10 km world champion after her Olympic disappointment viewed on television by millions, for never giving up on herself and swimming so strongly throughout the year from a 1.25 km sprint to a 57 km marathon, for speaking eloquently about the sport and her comeback, Aurélie Muller is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

10. Barbara Pozzobón (Italy)

Barbara Pozzobón swam further faster than anyone else in the marathon swimming world. She won the 57 km Maratón Acuática Internacional Santa Fe – Coronda in Argentina over world champion Aurélie Muller, finished second in the 32 km Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean in Canada, won the 30 km Ohrid Lake Marathon in Macedonia, and finished 4th in the 16 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli in Italy to capture the 2017 FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix title. In addition to winning her first FINA career title, she finished 6th in the World University Games 10 km in Taiwan. For finishing only 37 seconds behind the men’s winner at the Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli, for coming into her own in her breakout year competing very well in all kinds of conditions, for representing her country well in a number of international competitions across four continents, Barbara Pozzobón is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

11. Sarah Thomas (USA)

Sarah Thomas was all over the place in 2017. She warmed up with a 40 km double circumnavigation around Mercer Island in Washington, then won the women’s division at the 17 km Portland Bridge Swim in Oregon, completed an unprecedented 31.7 km crossing of Grand Lake in Oklahoma, and finished 6th overall at the 16 km Swim The Suck in Tennessee. But she did one more swim that was simply mind-boggling and typical of Thomas’ tenacity. In August, she swam further than anyone in human history without currents: 168.3 km (104.6 miles) in 67 hours 16 minutes in Lake Champlain, New York and Vermont. While fatigue was increasing as sleep became necessary after nearly 3 days of non-stop swimming, Thomas finished with a steady stride, wide smile, and fully conversant with her crew and media. Her swim was carefully documented and virtually observed by thousands, inspiring many and ensuring her effort set the standard for ratification. For her continued push to set the bar in marathon swimming, for her pleasant personality and friendly interactions with her escort crew throughout her swims, for her ability to swim further than anyone else on Planet Earth, Sarah Thomas is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

12. Julia Wittig (Germany)

Julia Wittig has always been a fast swimmer, but the German schoolteacher became the world’s dominant and fastest ice swimmer in the world in 2017. The 38-year-old swims in nearly frozen venues as if sub-0°C air and nearly freezing water temperatures do not matter. She won the 1 km Ice Swimming Aqua Sphere World Championships in Germany’s Lake Wöhrsee in 13 minutes 58 seconds, a time so fast that would have placed her fifth overall in the men’s race. For setting a 1 km world record in 3.9°C water that was ratified by the International Ice Swimming Association, for showing the potential for speed in a dramatic final at the Burghausen venue, for getting second in the 500m world ice swimming championship in a time that would have placed her third overall in the men’s race, Julia Wittig is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

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

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