Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach.

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, charity swims, swim camps and expeditions, channel swims, stage swims, adventure swims, wild swims or winter swims, it was a remarkable year.

Ion Lazarenco Tiron of the Republic of Moldava was voted the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year among an illustrious group of men who included Benoît Lecomte of France/USA, Cameron Bellamy of South Africa, Diego López Dominguez of Spain, Ferry Weertman of the Netherlands, Igor Lukin of Russia, John Batchelder of the USA, José Luis Larrosa Chorro of Spain, Kristóf Rasovszky of Hungary, Lewis Pugh of Great Britain/South Africa, Maarten van der Weijden of the Netherlands, Ned Denison of Ireland, Rohan More of India, Vladimir Mravec of Slovakia/Australia, and Yaroslav Pronin of Belarus.

All the nominees for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year are an heroic and impressive group of individuals with exceptional exploits, histories and lifestyles,” said Steven Munatones. “They are representative of millions of others in the open water swimming world. Each of the nominees has made a significant impact on the sport locally, nationally, or internationally.

The WOWSA Awards honor the men 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 2018.

Ion planned and accomplished his first major open water swim with a 235 km Swimming Marathon Nistru – Unites Moldova charity stage swim that took 8 days – and raised lots of money and awareness for charity. He forged on and ultimately developed a massively hardened veneer and a tough mental attitude in his adopted Ireland.

This year, he culminated his four-year Oceans Seven journey with a successful crossing of the Cook Strait. Along the way in the midst of receiving a slew of awards in Ireland and completing an Ice Mile, he has completed the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming as well as crossings of the Strait of Gibraltar (4 hours 41 minutes), English Channel (13 hours 34 minutes), North Channel (16 hours 23 minutes), Catalina Channel (12 hours 1 minute), Molokai Channel (18 hours 11 minutes), Tsugaru Channel (11 hours 20 minutes) and Cook Strait (11 hours 5 minutes).

He was the first person from the Republic of Moldova to achieve the Oceans Seven and completed a 100 km 3-day stage swim called the Swim of Peace in May together with Avram Iancu on the river Prut between Romania and Moldova to celebrate 100 years of unity.

As an ambassador of the sport across Europe and the swimming world, he did so much to raise money for children charities of Moldava. Ion was also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, perhaps the first swimmer to be so honored.

Ion joined the following winners of the annual World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year campaign:

* 2008: Randy Nutt, U.S.A.
* 2009: Petar Stoychev, Bulgaria
* 2010: Marcos Díaz, Dominican Republic
* 2011: Jamie Patrick, U.S.A.
* 2012: Stephen Redmond, Ireland
* 2013: Pádraig Mallon, Ireland
* 2014: Henri Kaarma, Estonia
* 2015: Antonio Argüelles Díaz-González, Mexico
* 2016: Nejib Belhedi, Tunisia
* 2017: Antonio Argüelles Díaz-González, Mexico
* 2018: Ion Lazarenco Tiron, Republic of Moldava

Other 2018 WOWSA Awards winners included Aleksandra Bednarek of Poland as the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year, the Great British Swim by Ross Edgley as the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year, and Icebears Hintertux of Austria by Josef Köberl as the 2018 World Open Water Offering of the Year. The winners were selected by the public in a global online poll.

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