Imagine taking calls and emails from swimmers of all ages and abilities around the world.

They all want to swim across the Strait of Gibraltar and they want to do it roughly at the same time.

Rafael Gutiérrez Mesa deals with them all as president of the Asociación Cruce A Nado Del Estrecho De Gibraltar. He deftly manages personalities, schedules and expectations.

The requests come from Spain, South Africa, England, America, Peru, Morocco, Mexico, Argentina, Poland, Denmark, Rumania, Italy, France, Germany, Chile, Puerto Rico, Luxembourg, Hungary, Dominican Republic, Australia, Gibraltar, Panama, Israel, Slovakia, Belgium, the Philippines, Cuba, Portugal, Brazil, Venezuela, Taiwan, India, Czech Republic, Finland, Norway, New Zealand, Greece, Iran, Serbia, Austria, Croatia, Canada, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Guatemala, Switzerland, Uruguay, Japan, Sweden, Turkey and elsewhere.

And swimmers from various cultures and walks of life ultimately leave with a warm smile and a deep sense of satisfaction and gratitude due to the hospitality, professionalism and expertise of Rafael and his group of passionate channelistas.

He is the man if you want to cross the Strait of Gibraltar. As such, Rafael was nominated for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year for his commitment, Spanish ambiance and professionalism that he brings to the sport.

His nomination reads, “He delivers smiles and helps achieve dreams. By safely escorting swimmers from one continent to another as president of the Asociación Cruce A Nado Del Estrecho De Gibraltar (Strait of Gibraltar Swimming Association), Rafael Gutiérrez Mesa provides many individuals from all walks of life their greatest opportunity for athletic achievement. Rafael plans, organizes, guides, and certifies solo and relay crossings – both neoprene and bioprene – of the Strait of Gibraltar. Year in and year out, he manages everything from the bureaucracy of the Spanish and Moroccan governments to providing beautiful commemorative charts of swimmer’s crossings. For his passion to help others realize their dreams, for his expertise in dealing with bureaucracies, for his ability to manage crossings by swimmers of every age, ability, background, and country, Rafael Gutiérrez Mesa is a worthy candidate for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

The nominees for the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year are always an heroic and amazing group of individuals with exceptionally inspirational exploits, histories and lifestyles. This year presents an especially accomplished field of individuals who include:.

1. Alexander Brylin, Ice Swimmer from Siberia (Russia)
2. Damián Blaum, Around The World Marathoner (Argentina)
3. Darren Miller, Achieving the Oceans Seven (U.S.A.)
4. Doug Woodring, Energetic Environmentalism (Hong Kong)
5. Glen Christiansen, Recovering from Trauma (Sweden)
6. Jim McConica, Ageless Wonder (U.S.A.)
7. Jose Diaz, Horizontes Sin Fronteras (Spain)
8. Mally Richards, 60 Years In The Making (South Africa)
9. Oussama Mellouli, Olympic Ambassador (Tunisia)
10. Pádraig Mallon, Extraordinaire Event Director & Swimmer (Ireland)
11. Rafael Gutiérrez Mesa, Getting Things Strait in Gibraltar (Spain)
12. Thomas Lurz, World Champion (Germany)
13. Tomi Stefanovski, Mastering the Traversee (Macedonia)
14. Vojislav Mijić, Tirelessly Resilient Race Director (Serbia)
15. Wayne Riddin, Midmar Mile Miracle (South Africa)

The previous recipients of the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year include:

* 2008 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year – Randy Nutt (U.S.A.)
* 2009 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year – Petar Stoychev (Bulgaria)
* 2010 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year – Marcos Díaz (Dominican Republic)
* 2011 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year – Jamie Patrick (U.S.A.)
* 2012 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year – Stephen Redmond (Ireland) shown above

Online voting takes place here.

Photo shows Rafael Gutiérrez Mesa escorting Darren Miller across the Strait of Gibraltar together with Jamie Patrick, Jen Schumacher and Oliver Wilkinson.

 Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association