Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

The nominees for the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year are an incredible group of individuals from all walks of life, of all ages and various abilities – each with different purposes, a burning passion and different roads traveled to achieve their goals – like the 2009 winner, Andrew Smiley of the Cayman Islands.

These individuals are magnificent people from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, France, Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Serbia and USA, whose exploits, histories and lifestyles are extraordinarily inspirational to read.

These awards not necessarily for the best athlete, but are meant to honor the individual(s) who (1) best embodies the spirit of open water swimming, (2) possesses the sense of adventure, tenacity and perseverance that open water swimmers are known for, and (3) has most positively influenced the world of open water swimming in 2010.

The public poll presents an extremely difficult choice among these open water swimming heroes and heroines. And the nominees for the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year:

1. Alex Meyer (USA), World 25K Champion
2. Chloë McCardel (Australia), Two-Way Channel Swimmer
3. Damme-Brugge Open Water Swim Race Organizers (Belgium), 100th Year Anniversary
4. Finy Fichera (Italy), Sicilian Channel Master
5. Ian van der Hulst (Netherlands), Record-Setter
6. Jamie Patrick (USA), Endurance Athlete
7. John Van Wisse (Australia), Two-Way Channel Swimmer
8. Lewis Pugh (Great Britain), Environmentalist and Pioneer Swimmer
9. Marcellus Wiley (USA), Swimming Advocate
10. Marcelo Collet (Brazil), Paralympic Channel Swimmer
11. Mexican American Unity Swim (Mexico/USA), World Record Lake Relay
12. Miguel Vadillo (Mexico), LOST Swimmer
13. Penny Palfrey (Australia), Aquatic Adventurer
14. Philippe Croizon (France), Amputee Channel Swimmer
15. Rachel Golub, Patricia Sener, Cristian Vergara (USA / Chile), Cold-Water Swimmers
16. Rob Dumouchel (USA), Open Water Documentarist
17. Spyridon Gianniotis, Antonios Fokaidis and Kalliopi Araouzou (Greece), European Victors
18. Stephen Redmond (Ireland), North Channel Swimmer
19. Swim 22 (USA), Four-Way Channel Swimmers
20. Ventura Deep Six Relay (USA), Non-Stop Ocean World Record Holders
21. Vojislav Mijic (Serbia), Extraordinary Promoter and Organizer

1. Alex Meyer (USA), World 25K Champion

Alex Meyer from Harvard University faced huge disappointment when he was disqualified at the last turn at last year’s world championships. Coming into the last turn at the 2010 world championships in Canada, Alex made sure to avoid déjà vu as he went stroke-for-stroke with the 2-time world champion Valerio Cleri.

In a race for the ages that came down to two men giving it their all, Alex zigzagged his way to victory. Shoulder-to-shoulder, the marathon warriors raced for over 5 hours only to set up a gold medal sprint in the last 200 meters. Exhausted beyond belief, but confident in his ability to navigate the final few meters around a vastly more experienced world champion, Alex first went right, then left, then right again around his studly rival.

For his ability to dig deep within himself and make a closing sprint with an 8-beat kick, Alex Meyer’s gold medal victory at the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Championship 25K race is a well-deserved nomination for the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

2. Chloe McCardel (Australia), Two-Way Channel Swimmer

Chloe McCardel did not make her two-way English Channel crossing last year after a valiant 25-hour effort in 2009, but she was wholeheartedly determined to succeed in 2010.

Chloe made her way back to Dover with renewed spirit and a bit more experienced and wizened. Her first leg was 10 hours and 37 minutes and her second leg a strong 11 hours and 11 minutes. She prepped for her 21 hour and 48 minute two-way crossing with a victory at the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim.

For her strong commitment to reach her goal and her patience in getting there, Chloe McCardel’s two-way crossing (one of only 22 in history) is nominated for the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

3. Damme-Brugge Race Organizers (Belgium), 100th Year Anniversary

The Damme-Brugge organizers have hosted this freestyle and breaststroke swim event for exactly 100 years. This year, the 100th anniversary swim is a credit to the organizers and their predecesors.

For their continued passion for the sport and their organization of a low-key traditional open water swim for swimmers of all ages and abilities, the Damme-Brugge Open Water Swim organizers’ collective hard work is nominated for the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

4. Finy Fichera (Italy), Sicilian Channel Master

Finy Fichera, an 82-year-old wonder with only one good eye, completed a two-way crossing of the Strait of Messina to become the oldest person to swim between this tricky channel in Sicily, Italy. After completing a single crossing two years ago that also set a record too, Finy stepped it up in 2010.

He swam back and forth between Sicily and mainland Italy in 2 hours and 46 minutes after a first leg of 58:38.

The winner of the 800-meter freestyle at the World Masters Swimming Championships, this old man of the sea is inspirational for younger generations. For his amazing double journey and his zest for life, Finy Fichera’s swim is nominated for the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

5. Ian van der Hulst (Netherlands), Record-Setter

Ian van der Hulst won the 22nd annual Kalamata – Koroni Open Water Swimming Marathon, a 30K swim across the Messiniakos Gulf in Greece and broke the long-standing record by one minute to finish in 6 hours and 32 minutes.

For his record-setting performance in one of the world’s classic marathon swims, Ian van der Hulst’s swim is nominated for the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

6. Jamie Patrick (USA), Endurance Athlete

Jamie Patrick completed a two-way wetsuit crossing of Lake Tahoe in California and Nevada in the western USA. Jamie’s 44-mile swim was done in 25 hours and 26 minutes in the thin air at 1,890 meters (6,200 feet) in sub-16°F (60.8°C) water.

For his unprecedented adventure at high-altitude, Jamie Patrick’s two-way crossing is nominated for the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

7. John Van Wisse (Australia), Two-Way Channel Swimmer

John Van Wisse has had a storied open water career. 2010 saw him try to culminate his career with a three-way crossing of the English Channel. While he did not achieve the magical triple crossing, John became one of the 22 swimmers in history to complete a two-way crossing.

His time of 19 hours and 55 minutes was one of the fastest double-crossings in history.

For his audacious plans and his storied two-way crossing of the English Channel, John van Wisse’s swim from England to France and back is nominated for the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

8. Lewis Pugh (Great Britain), Environmentalist and Pioneer Swimmer

Achieving the Impossible was literally what Lewis Pugh did in 2010. He not only completed a dangerous one- kilometer swim across a recently formed lake, but he did it in 2°C (35.6°F) water after climbing 5,200 meters (17,000 feet) up Mt. Everest.

High up the greatest mountain range in the world to call attention to the melting glaciers in the Himalayas, Lewis risked his life in a grueling 22 minute 51 second swim. But his performance was not over – he then climbed back down to spread his message about the consequences of climate change.

For his ability to swim at the highest altitude ever achieved by mankind and his engaging and educational speeches and books that reach millions, Lewis Pugh’s swim on Mount Everest is a mightily worthy nominee for the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

9. Marcellus Wiley (USA), Swimming Advocate

Marcellus Wiley, a Columbia educated 10-year veteran of the NFL and current ESPN and ABC television commentator. Like 70% of African American youth, Marcellus never learned how to swim as a child. In August, Marcellus heard the story of six African American children who drowned trying to save their cousin in the Red River in Louisiana.

After hearing news of this tragedy, Marcellus decided that it was time to conquer his fears and learn how to swim.

He hoped his story would help bring awareness to the terrifying statistics related to minority swimming and drowning rates. Appearing on CNN and ESPN over the last few months, he has begun spreading the word and shining a light on a major problem in this country.

Within months, Marcellus not only learned to swim, he also decided to complete a 1.2-mile swim in the Pacific Ocean, a feat far beyond his wildest dreams.

For his leadership in promoting open water swimming in the American media and helping others tackle their personal fears through his inspirational efforts, Marcellus Wiley’s courageous 1.2-mile swim is nominated as the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

10. Marcelo Collet (Brazil), Paralympic Channel Swimmer

Marcelo Collet became the first Paralympic athlete to successfully swim across the English Channel. Swimming across the channel is difficult under any situation, but doing so while being physically disabled is especially impressive.

For his burning drive that was kept alive for two years while he trained and his never-ending dream to cross the English Channel despite of his handicap and many obstacles along the way, Marcelo Collet’s extremely speedy and eye-opening 10 hour and 6 minute crossing is nominated for the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

11. Mexican American Unity Swim (Mexico/USA), World Record Lake Relay

Vito Bialla, Patricia Kohlmann, Matthew Davie, Phil Cutti, Nora Toledano and Edna Llorens – 3 swimmers from Mexico and 3 swimmers from the USA – swam in a politically-charged atmosphere of Arizona in the beautifully majestic Lake Powell.

For 3 days and 2 nights, the Mexican American Unity Swim team forged their way in the sweet-tasting lake through deeply carved canyons to set a 108 nautical mile (200K) non-stop lake relay record – after two previous attempts in Mexico to set the record.

Over 55 hours 20 minutes and 25 seconds, the group of six proved that friendships based on trust, a common goal and a love of open water swimming can trump cultural gaps and linguistic differences.

For their inability to get discouraged after two record attempts were halted due to marine life and their innovative world-record-setting course in Lake Powell, the Mexican American Unity Swim relay is a meritorious nominee for the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

12. Miguel Vadillo (Mexico), LOST Swimmer

Miguel Vadillo joined a very exclusive class of marathon swimmers who have swum across Lake Ontario in Canada. Miguel completed the difficult 52K swim in 18 hours and 4 minutes despite repeatedly wanting to quit due to the cold.

While focusing on his goal and after gaining energy when the sun rose after a long night in the cold Ontario lake, Miguel completed his dream and raised money for children in financial need who expressed a desire to learn how to swim.

For his generosity and never-give-up attitude and for inspiring others to swim, Miguel Vadillo’s long night swimming on Lake Ontario is nominated for the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

13. Penny Palfrey (Australia), Aquatic Adventurer

Penny Palfrey attempted one of the world’s most daunting swims – a 72-mile (116K) swim across a 10,000+ meter deep Kaieiewaho Channel between the islands of Oahu and Kauai in Hawaii – and nearly got halfway before she swam into a large smack (group) of Portuguese Man-o-War.

Her system was so filled with venom that her attempt was halted at 58K after 12 hours and 8 minutes. Despite being stung unmercifully by numerous Portuguese Man-o-War that caused her swim to be called early, Penny Palfrey’s courageous marathon swim in the middle of the Pacific Ocean – and her second upcoming attempt this November – are jointly nominated for the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

14. Philippe Croizon (France), Amputee Channel Swimmer

Philippe Croizon swam an average time in the English Channel – 13 hours and 30 minutes – but he is anything but average. His arms and legs were amputated due to an accident, but his dreams did not end with his amputation. He trained and swam across the English Channel using leg prostheses with fins attached and a protective wetsuit.

Unconventional, yes.

But Philippe is truly special for his dreams and his efforts to achieve them as he described in his book, J’ai decide de vivre (I Decided To Live).

His drive, his desire and overwhelming zest for life, despite the setbacks he has been dealt are all inspirational reasons why Philippe Croizon’s courageous solo English Channel crossing is nominated for the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

15. Rachel Golub, Patricia Sener, Cristian Vergara (USA / Chile), Cold-Water Swimmers

Rachel Golub, Patricia Sener and Cristian Vergara completed an unprecedented two-way crossing of the 3-mile Beagle Channel between Chile and Argentina in 4°C (38°F) without wetsuits where the threat of the dreaded williwaw is ever-present.

The trio, the pride of the Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers, coordinated with the officials and armadas of two countries, and finished the treacherous channel safely (Cristian in 1:20, Rachel in 1:24 and Patricia in 1:36).

For their adventurous spirit and internationally harmonious cooperation in a cross-border swim under risky conditions, Rachel Golub, Patricia Sener and Cristian Vergara’s swim in the Beagle Channel are nominated for the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

16. Rob Dumouchel (USA), Open Water Documentarist

Rob Dumouchel carefully and comprehensively documents each of his open water swims that he does around the United States. He took in-the-water, over-the-water, underwater, off-shore, onshore photos and videos, as well as incredibly detailed commentary of each of the 20 open water swims he did in 2010.

He took 36 flights to participate in 20 swims in 7 states. His reports provide race directors and organizations with minute details and observations that can help improve the event in the future. Swimmers who consider entering the swim in the future also find his online reports and opinions extraordinarily helpful.

For his extraordinarily detailed online reports, his helpful observations and deep-seated passion for all his aquatic adventures are an outstanding year-round nomination for the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

17. Spyridon Gianniotis, Antonios Fokaidis and Kalliopi Araouzou (Greece), European Victors

The Greek National Open Water Swim Team upset the highly favored Italians, Russians and Germans to win the gold medal at the European Swimming Championships 5K Team Pursuit.

Spyridon Gianniotis, Antonios Fokaidis and Kalliopi Araouzou sprinted the entire distance while staying in a tight, streamlined peloton to win comfortably in 59 minutes and 3 seconds.

With the Team Pursuit race the newest event on the FINA world championship schedule, the Greeks are well-positioned as leaders of the new generation of open water racers.

For their flawless teamwork and unexpected upset, the surprising victory of the Greek National Swim Team of Spyridon Gianniotis, Antonios Fokaidis and Kalliopi Araouzou is nominated for the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

18. Stephen Redmond (Ireland), North Channel Swimmer

Stephen Redmond joined one of the most elite and exclusive clubs in marathon swimming – the 11-member group of swimmers who have successfully crossed the wickedly cold, jellyfish-strewn North (Irish) Channel between Ireland and Scotland.

For his one year of hard cold-water training, Stephen Redmond’s 35K 17 hour and 20 minute swim across the tricky tides between Ireland and Scotland is a historically epic swim worthy of a nomination as the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

19. Swim 22 (USA), Four-Way Channel Swimmers

Chris Dahowski, Mike Vovk, Jen Schumacher and David Hartmire attempted the world’s first Contiguous Solo Crossing Relay.

The four swimmers attempted to swim four consecutive solo Catalina Channel crossings in a charity swim for Jay Nolan Community Services.

The start of each swimmer’s 20-mile Catalina Channel crossing was dependent on their teammate’s finish time and location, adding another element of risk to a typically challenging channel crossing. The logistics of four support teams with over 50 volunteer crew was complicated enough, but then the team hit a small craft advisory warning in the middle of the second night. David finished in 11 hours and 52 minutes; Mike was pulled in Force 7 conditions after 8 hours; Jen finished in 11 hours and 5 minutes and Chris finished Swim 22’s adventure in 11 hours and 29 minutes.

Despite the setback on the second leg, the teammates of Swim 22 never gave up and demonstrated the passion, commitment to each other and to their cause. For these traits and their characteristics, Swim 22 is nominated for the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

20. Ventura Deep Six Relay (USA), Non-Stop Ocean World Record Holders

The Ventura Deep Six Relay spent four days and nights in the record cold Pacific Ocean swimming 202 miles (325K) to set the world record for the longest non-stop open water swimming relay conducted under traditional English Channel rules.

Tom Ball, Kurtis Baron, John Chung, Jim McConica, Jim Neitz and Mike Shaffer overcame intense fog, cold water that got as low as 13°C (56°F), large ocean swells, tremendous chop for days on end, gigantic pods of playful dolphin and flesh-eating fish. They also organized an escort flotilla, including the 135-foot mother ship, that safely guided them in the open ocean. The six men never let up and never thought their audacious goal in the cold ocean was not possible.

For this incredible physical and logistical effort, the Ventura Deep Six Relay is nominated as the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

21. Vojislav Mijic (Serbia), Extraordinary Promoter and Organizer

Another year, another group of satisfied open water swimmers, another celebration of open water swimming where thousands come to cheer on the marathon swimmers.

Year after year, Vojislav Mijic organizes the Jarak-Sabac Marathon, a FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix event, and continues to promote open water swimming in general for several decades.

The 19K marathon swim welcomes all and is a credit to a tireless, personable and humble individual who truly loves the sport of open water swimming as an athlete and race director.

For his repeated years of service and commitment to marathon swimming, Vojislav Mijic has performed flawlessly to host yet another Plivački maraton Jarak-Šabac.

Fans can vote for the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year nominees The nominees for the here.

Copyright © 2010 by World Open Water Swimming Association