Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Open water swimmers often serve as mentors to those individuals younger or less experienced than themselves. They train together as swim buddies and pace each others.

Marathon swimmers and channel swimmers share tips and information about swims around the world. They share contacts of kayakers and paddlers, pilots and administrators. They share recipes and feeding strategies.

Some open water swimmers cast an even wider net to reach out to communities of athletes who are disabled, either physically or intellectually.

Bruckner Chase and his wife and Blue Journey collaborator Michelle Evans-Chase along with Bacharach Rehabilitation Hospital, ABC Medical and the City of Upper Township enable a diverse community of athletes – both able-bodied and disabled – to come together and enjoy ocean swimming. The boldly innovative program in southern New Jersey creates transformative evidence-based ocean engagement experiences to positively impact the fitness, well-being and quality of life for its participants. And the Ocean City Swim Club Unified Team / Legion of Ocean Heroes Surf Lifesaving Festival is expanding globally from Denmark to Australia by like-minded mentors.

The program brings together ocean lifeguards, triathletes and able-bodied swimmers to help individuals with spinal cord injuries learn how to train and race through swimming and surf lifesaving-inspired sports. “During the Legion of Ocean Heroes Surf Lifesaving Festival, the able-bodied and challenged athletes compete side-by-side as paddlers and swimmers,” explains Chase.

Spinal cord injured athletes leave their wheelchairs behind on the shore and begin to explore their potential as ocean athletes while members of the community learn the value in training together. It involves training in a pool with Pool Open Water to logistics like getting the athletes in wheelchairs from their homes to the shoreline.”

The Chase’s program is nominated for the World Open Water Offering of the Year among the following other programs, books, events, products, concepts and initiatives:

1. Prison Island Swims (international)
2. KIM SWIMS (USA)
3. Samsung Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim (Turkey)
4. Ocean City Swim Club Unified Team / Legion of Ocean Heroes Surf Lifesaving Festival (USA)
5. KAATSU Aqua (Japan)
6. Hawaiʻi Tiger Shark Tracking (USA)
7. OceanFit (Australia)
8. The Power of Swimming or Simma med Stjärnorna (Sweden)
9. Wildswim.com (United Kingdom)
10. Instabeat (International)
11. Terroir Project Collection (Denmark)
12. Agar Plasticity (Japan)
13. Swimming in the Sink: An Episode of the Heart by Lynne Cox (USA)
14. Global Alert Platform by the Ocean Recovery Alliance (Hong Kong)
15. Blue Mind Summits (international)

To vote for the WOWSA Awards, visit here. Voting continues until December 31st 2016.

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association