Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

American citizens have either an easy or difficult choice regarding who to vote for as their next President: Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.*

Who do the American people want as their next president, a billionaire outsider or a political insider?

Like every other demographic group in America, open water swimmers have a choice.

Disregarding all their policies and plans, which candidate – Trump for the Republicans or Clinton for the Democrats – appeal to swimmers? Exclusively deciding on the candidates based exclusively on their open water swimming ties, it is a difficult choice.

On one side, Trump has supported environmental swims by Skip Storch and pro marathon races in Atlantic City.

New Jersey’s Trump Marina was [finish] site of the 1989 Around The Island Swim where the Trump Marina and other casinos in Atlantic City donated funds for the swimmers’ prize money in the 1980s. During the race won by David Alleva in 8 hours 5 minutes over Paul Asmuth and Robert Schmidt, the 24 athletes also swam past the Trump Princess. Trump came down to shake the hands of the winners.

I don’t remember a lot of what happened at the race finish,” recalls Paul Asmuth. “However, race director Jack Geraghty wanted me to meet him. It was very nice of Mr. Trump to take the time to greet the swimmers.”

Asmuth then later crossed paths with Trump again at the 2012 Golden Goggles, an annual USA Swimming event where America’s top swimmers are honored. “I asked Mr. Trump if we could have our picture taken together again after many years and he said ‘Why not?’ We were on the red carpet after he gave out an award that night. He was cordial in both of my brief encounters with him.”

While Trump sponsored races and solo swimmers, Clinton helped Diana Nyad achieve her lifelong dream. In her position of Secretary of State, Clinton was able to approve Nyad’s visit to Cuba and enable her to attempt her swims from Cuba to Florida.

Those approvals and Nyad’s swims left an impact on the former First Lady. “When you’re facing big challenges in your life, you can think about Diana Nyad getting attacked by the lethal sting of box jellyfishes. And nearly anything else seems doable in comparison.”

She also recommended Nyad’s memoir, Find a Way, in a recent interview with the New York Times. And amid the 7,000 pages of her personal emails released by the State Department, Clinton and Nyad’s exchange of communications were uncovered. Nyad asked for Clinton’s help to get her expedition cleared by the U.S. State Department so that she could begin the swim in Cuba.

The U.S. Treasury Department needed to give its formal approval to Nyad for her to enter Cuba – and that required either the permission of Secretary Clinton or President Obama. In the emails, Nyad wrote, “I…was told the Cubans would eagerly welcome my event. But they said I would definitely need to first have approval from the State Department. I was told there that it is a sensitive time politically, that both Obama and Hilary (sic) Clinton are very much pro-embargo and it would take perhaps a year to procure State Department clearance.”

Clinton ultimately approved Nyad’s expedition into Cuba and permissions were granted by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, the Treasury Department, and the Department of Commerce in 2010…and 2011, 2012 and finally in 2013 when she finally completed her swim.

Clinton sent Nyad a hand-written note of congratulations after the swim in which she used Nyad’s favored phrase “Onward!

In an interesting juxtaposition of the three personalities, a reporter asked Clinton if Trump would be her ‘box jellyfish’ during the campaign.

It is up to the American voters if Trump puts a sting into Clinton – or Clinton is able to endure.

* This article does not address the official and potential third party and independent candidates associated with the 2016 United States presidential election (including the Green Party, Libertarian Party, American Independent Party, Peace and Freedom Party, Reform Party of the United States of America, American Party (South Carolina), American Delta Party, America’s Party, American Freedom Party, Constitution Party (Idaho), Independent American Party, Nutrition Party, Socialist Workers Party, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Prohibition Party, and the Veterans Party of America) because their interest in and relationships with open water swimmers are unknown to this publication.

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association