Photo courtesy of Josef Köberl, Hintertuxer Gletscher, Austria.

The year 2018 saw an incredible number of outstanding swims by outstanding swimmers guided by passionate volunteers and governed by experienced administrators and coaches all over the world. The athletes proved the bar in all the various niches of open water swimming continues to be elevated.

Whether athletes were doing ice swims, marathon swims, pro races, European Championships, Pan Pacific Championships, channel swims, stage swims, adventure swims, charity swims, wild swims, swimming camps and expeditions, or winter swims, it was a remarkable year.

The innovative Icebears Hintertux training camp held in Austria and organized by Josef Köberl was voted as the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year among an illustrious group of nominees that included A History of Marathon Swimming by Joe Grossman & Steve Walker, AKUA Kelp Jerky by Courtney Boyd Myers, Asociación de Cruce a Nado del Río de la Plata by Lucas Rivet, ENERGYbits® by Catharine Arnston, International Ice Swimming Association World Cup Series by Ram Barkai, Marathon Swimming: The Sport of the Soul by Paul Asmuth, Maelstrom Seven by Wild Swimming Brothers, Ontberingen van een marathonzwemster / Hardships Of A Marathonswimmer by Monique Blok-Wildschut, Patagonia Swim by Cristian Vergara and Julieta Núñez Gundlach, St. Lucia Channel Swim by Sue Dyson and Nathaniel Waring, Tahiti Swimming Experience by Stéphane Debaere and the Tahitian Swimming Federation, Take Your Dream by Eric, Hunter and Tuck Helmick, TOWER 26 by Gerry Rodrigues, and Waikiki Roughwater Swim DIY Swim Certificate by Michael Rök & Jim Cotton.

The nominees for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year included films, books, projects, products, services, events, foods, equipment, organizations, and camps, all with an exceptional twist that provide extraordinary value to open water swimmers around the world. They are innovative, unique and beneficial to open water swimmers, race directors, coaches and administrators, and made the most positive impact on the world of open water swimming,” said Steven Munatones.

Josef Köberl, president of the Ice Swimming Association Austria, loves the extreme. Together with Italian Paolo Chiarino, Dane Sinne Lundgard and other swimmers from Austria and the Czech Republic, they organized and trained in the Eispalast – doing glacier swimming in an ice chamber in 0°C water and 0°C air at 3200 meters in altitude in the mornings and pool training or open water swimming in the afternoons.

Köberl also offered other 3-day high-altitude glacier training Icebears Hintertux camps in Austria’s Hintertuxer Gletscher in September, October and November. He loves the cold and sharing his passion with other like-minded athletes. He additionally organizes the Austrian Ice Swimming Championships.


Köberl joins the following past winners of the World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year:

* 2012: SWIM Channel by Patrick Wrinkler (Brazil)
* 2013: International Ice Swimming Association by Ram Barkai (South Africa)
* 2014: Step Out Of The Ordinary Blue Letter Campaign by Pádraig Mallon and Camlough Lake Water Festival (Ireland)
* 2015: World Ice Swimming Championships in Murmansk, Russia by the International Ice Swimming Association
* 2016: Samsung Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim (Turkey)
* 2017: Sea Donkey by James Harrison about Adrian Sarchet of Guernsey
* 2018: Icebears Hintertux by Josef Köberl (Austria)

Other 2018 WOWSA Awards winners included Ion Lazarenco Tiron of the Republic of Moldava as the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year, Aleksandra Bednarek of Poland as the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year, and the Great British Swim by Ross Edgley as the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year. The winners were selected by the public in a global online poll.

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