The nominees for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year are an heroic and impressive group of individuals with exceptional exploits, histories and lifestyles.
The nominees come from all over the world, although there are undoubtedly many more deserving nominees outside these individuals. Swimmers always accomplish remarkable feats and achieve mind-boggling goals in the water that go under the radar internationally. But these swimmers makes an impact locally, nationally, and internationally.
The WOWSA Awards are not necessarily for the best athletes, but are meant to honor the men and women 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 calendar year 2016.
The nominees for the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year are as follows:
1. Victoria Mori (Argentina)
Victoria Mori is an unusual and unique athlete with a wide, warm smile and a vast range of abilities in the open water. She not only competes in both the FINA/HOSA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup and the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix professional marathon circuits, but also on the winter and ice swimming circuits. From competitive marathons in her native Argentina to pro events in Canada, Macedonia and Italy, she races as well as venues far north in the Arctic Circle in Murmansk. The 23-year-old competes in the toughest open water swimming circuits on the globe, finishing in the top 5 among the marathon pros and on top of the podium among the winter swimmers. For her versatility in the open water, for her willingness to travel the globe to compete against the world’s best in both very warm and bitterly cold temperatures, for her role as an ambassador of the sport wherever she goes, Victoria Mori is a worthy nominee as the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
2. Rachele Bruni (Italy)
Rachele Bruni’s career peaked in the final stroke of the Olympic marathon swimming final where she maintained enough forward momentum to capture the silver medal. But the 27-year-old also demonstrated her speed, stamina, and strength in winning her second consecutive title at the FINA/HOSA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup professional circuit and two LEN titles in the 10 km and 5 km team relay. Bruni battled within tight packs in every race on the national and international scene, expertly positioning and pacing, surging and sprinting as necessary to emerge as one of world’s best open water swimmers. For maintaining her competitive spirit in every event around the world, for her intensity of training that leads to frequent podium positions, and for her tough international schedule, Rachele Bruni is a worthy nominee for the 2015 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
3. Sharon van Rouwendaal (Netherlands)
Sharon van Rouwendaal reached the pinnacle of any swimmer’s career this year: an Olympic gold medal in the 10 km marathon swim at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in a commanding performance by powering through the last loop of the Copacabana Beach course. She swims under the direction of a coach who demands more work and asks swimmers to train more mileage than other swimming coaches. But she welcomed the challenge and thrived under the massive mileage, and followed the grand historical Dutch successes in the open water. She remains passionate about the sport and thoroughly versatile, ending the season with a 1.5 km victory in Hong Kong Harbour while also continuing to be a world-class swimmer in the pool. For her meteoric rise in the open water discipline to become an Olympic champion, for her courageously commanding strategy at the Rio Olympics, for her genuine, enthusiastic appreciation of the sport and its volunteers, Sharon van Rouwendaal is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
4. Olga Kozydub (Russia)
Olga Kozydub won her second FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix title, but her second victorious campaign was thoroughly dominating. The 25-year-old won the 32 km Traversée Internationale du lac St-Jean in Canada by nearly 7 minutes and the 33 km Ohrid Lake Swim Marathon in Macedonia by nearly 3 minutes. At the start of the 2016 Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli race in the Blue Cave, Kozydub knew that she could wrap up the title with a typically solid swim. She swam confidently and finished just over 1 minute behind the defending FINA Grand Prix champion. For her steady stamina throughout a long season that was mixed in with 10 km World Cup races around the world, for her ability to handle all types of conditions and temperatures, for her love of competition including finishing second at the 25 km LEN European Championships, Olga Kozydub is a worthy nominee for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
5. Sally Minty-Gravett, M.B.E. (Jersey)
Sally Anne Minty-Gravett, M.B.E. has been marathon swimming for five decades on an unprecedented streak where she swam across the English Channel in 1975 as an 18-year-old, in 1985 as a 28-year-old, in 1992 as a 35-year-old, in 2005 as a 48-year-old, and in 2013 as a 56-year-old. Along the way, she unselfishly taught thousands how to swim and be safe in the sea. After 27 years of helping put Jersey on the global open water swimming map as the president of the Jersey Long Distance Swimming Club, she finally had time to attempt her lifelong dream of train for and attempt a two-way crossing of the English Channel. As tens of thousands of fans followed her virtually online and many more later heard, Minty-Gravett took the plunge and swam 36 hours 26 minutes non-stop from shore to shore to shore to achieve her goal. For achieving her dream at the age of 59, for continuing to inspire others around the globe, for always lending a helping hand and warm smile to all those who seek her knowledge, Sally Anne Minty-Gravett is a worthy nominee as the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
6. Chloë McCardel (Australia)
Chloë McCardel continues on a remarkable roll to break the most hallowed record in the sport of open water swimming: the most career crossings of the English Channel. With 14 crossings over the last 2 seasons, the personable Australian surpassed both Cindy Nicholas and Des Renford with her 20th and 21st career crossings in October. Not only is she now the 4th-ranking swimmer on history’s Channel career crossing list behind Alison Streeter, Kevin Murphy and Michael Read at a young age of 31 years, but she also coaches a number of charity relays across the Channel while serving as an ambassador of the sport as the most popular, most followed, most prolific marathon swimmer on Planet Earth. For her over 30,000,000 individual Google hits and growing, for her inspirational coaching and motivational speaking engagements around the world, for her continuous ocean challenges that place her among the most legendary in the sport, Chloë McCardel is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
7. Pat Gallant-Charette (USA)
Pat Gallant-Charette continues to raise the bar and push the envelope what an older swimmer can do. At the age of 65, three years after she swam for nearly 17 hours and was pulled less than one mile from the finish, the American nurse returned to the notoriously fickle North Channel between Northern Ireland and Scotland. The dynamic nature of the world’s channels have always put the hard-working grandmother to the test, but her smile remains as brilliant at the finish as it is in the beginning regardless of the outcome. Always cheerful and deeply appreciative to her crew and supportive family, Gallant-Charette became the oldest woman to complete a crossing of the North Channel in 14 hours 22 minutes. For becoming the oldest woman to complete a crossing of the Catalina Channel, Tsugaru Channel, and North Channel, for her charity work and founding of the Valentine’s Day…Swim for your Heart that brought awareness of heart disease and its prevention, for her warm-hearted joy that she permeates the sport and the community around her, Pat Gallant-Charette is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
8. Elizabeth Fry (USA)
Elizabeth Fry just keeps going and going. As she works in the mentally exhausting, high stress financial services industry in New York City, her relaxation and calm comes from facing some of the harshest environments on Earth. Not only did she work killer hours in the office, but she also took the time to travel the world and cross Japan’s Tsugaru Channel in 15 hours 48 minutes, Hawaii’s Molokai Channel in 17 hours 30 minutes, and California’s Catalina Channel in 12 hours 37 minutes. In between, the 57-year-old organized the charity swim for the St. Vincent’s Foundation in a 25 km Swim Across the Sound and mentored others who wish to emulate the remarkable stamina of one of the world’s most prolific marathon swimmers. For her boundless energy that is enhanced by a bright smile and selfless mentoring, for her achievement of the unprecedented Reverse Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming, for being a genuinely humble role model with a remarkable lifestyle balance, Elizabeth Fry is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
9. Cheryl Reinke (USA)
Cheryl Reinke competes against athletes half her age or less – both in the pool and open water – and still occasionally comes out on top. This year, the masters swim team coach topped herself with a victory in the world’s longest swim race: the 7-stage 120-mile (193 km) 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim in New York. Faced with a friendly rivalry against Paige Christie, the duo pushed each other to their outer limits over the week-long stage swim down the Hudson River. Reinke constantly faced chop, currents and competition that led to a dramatic race resulting in her 38 hour 43 minute victory. For demonstrating that older women can still maintain their athleticism and have a sporting chance against people the age of their children, for continuously seeking to push herself in the second half of her life, for mentoring and inspiring others of all ages to maintain a healthy lifestyle through aquatics, Cheryl Reinke is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
10. Sabrina Wiedmer (Switzerland)
Sabrina Wiedmer doesn’t like the cold or jellyfish. But once she started open water swimming in her adopted Ireland, she learned to compartmentalize the discomfort of the cold and eventually set a women’s record in the Ice Mile in 25:51 and later tied a world record in the Ice Kilometer in 13:58. A former sprint backstroker in Switzerland, Wiedmer quickly extended her reach to win local sea swims in Ireland and then cross one of the world’s mightiest channel swims: the 21-mile North Channel between Northern Ireland and Scotland. She also completed a Tory Island crossing, a Loch Lomond crossing, and set the record for the Dál Riata Channel after listening to channel veterans and studying from past attempts. For learning how to effectively deal with the cold and marine life while setting two world records, for maintaining a wide smile and positively joyful attitude as she transformed from a pool sprinter to a hardened ice swimmer and a tough channel swimmer, for effectively acclimating to sub-5ºC water and across turbulent channels, Sabrina Wiedmer is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
11. Nuala Moore (Ireland)
Nuala Moore is increasingly in demand as an adviser, speaker and educator. After decades of being a professional scuba diving instructor and sea swimmer, along with marathon swimming experiences, Moore finally found her niche in The Ice in 2011. Once she developed the correct mindset and acclimated properly, she achieved her goals and now works on developing the sport and post-swim rewarming and safety protocols with researchers, scientists and event organizers around the globe. After her most recent 1 km ice swim, she immediately transferred to the recovery team, spending 7 hours working in the sauna managing the rewarming of 30 ice swimmers, many first-timers. For her heartfelt passion about sharing the technical aspects of ice swimming, its beauty and challenges, for working towards effective recovery protocols and widespread understanding based on her time in 0°C water, for frequently serving as a second for ice swimmers and establishing a foundation for newcomers to safely participate in ice swims, Nuala Moore is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
12. Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia)
Shelley Taylor-Smith did not retire after 7 consecutive years as the women’s #1 ranked professional marathon swimmer and 5 overall victories in the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. She did not retire after being the only woman to be ranked #1 among both men and women in the history of any sport. She did not retire after serving for 2 decades on FINA committees. The 55-year-old continues to serve as an ambassador extolling the benefits and challenge of open water swimming from Europe to Oceania. She coaches people of all ages to venture past the shoreline and instills confidence to replace their fears and worries, enabling them to create results that they didn’t believe they could achieve. For helping swimmers unpack their own personal power, for staying true to the needs of swimmers, for being a positive role model and an intensely passionate coach and speaker through her Open Water Swimming Mastery, Shelley Taylor-Smith is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
13. Samantha Arévalo Salinas (Ecuador)
Samantha Arévalo lined up in Copacabana Beach against the veterans from powerhouse open water swimming nations like the Netherlands, Italy, Brazil, USA, Germany Russia, Australia and Great Britain. The 22-year-old from Ecuador trains at 2,400 meters (7,874 feet) altitude in Cuenca, high up in the Andes Mountain, far away from her competitors. But she proved herself at the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim at the Rio Olympics when she came down to sea level, placing ninth overall. Like her male teammates of Team Ecuador at the highest echelon of 10 km marathon swimming, Arévalo is fast enough, savvy enough and confident enough to compete with the world’s best. For representing her country of 15.2 million people very well on the Olympic stage, for being competitive enough to place within 36 seconds of an Olympic medal in a nearly 2-hour race, for being an eloquent, soft-spoken ambassador of the sport in a country not normally seen as a swimming hotbed, Samantha Arévalo Salinas is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
14. Jaimie Monahan (USA)
Jaimie Monahan seemed ubiquitous around the globe, certainly among the world’s most prolific swimmers. In addition to winning the International Winter Swimming Association’s World Cup and competing in Latvia, Russia, United Kingdom, China, Sweden, and Estonia, she completed marathon swims around Manhattan Island, across Italy’s Lake Como, across Switzerland’s Lake Geneva, in the Rose Pitonof Swim, across New York’s Lake George, around Italy’s Lago d’Orta, around New Jersey’s Absecon Island, down the Hudson River, and in Bolivia’s Lake Titicaca. She also did an Ice Mile in Iceland and serves as the President of the Lake Geneva Swimming Association despite working for a professional services firm in New York. For her impressive versatility in competing in ice-water sprints and warm-water marathons, for balancing a full-time job and a globetrotting swimming itinerary, and for her relentlessly genuine efforts to serve as a charismatic ambassador for marathon swimming and winter swimming, Jaimie Monahan is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.
Previous recipients of the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year include:
2008: Edith van Dijk Netherlands) professional marathon swimmer
2009: Poliana Okimoto (Brazil) professional marathon swimmer
2010: Anne Marie Ward (Ireland) channel swimmer
2011: Pilar Geijo (Argentina) professional marathon swimmer
2012: Annaleise Carr (Canada) marathon swimmer
2013: Olga Kozydub (Russia) professional marathon swimmer
2014: Nataliya Fatyanova, M.D. (Russia) physician and ice swimming researcher
2015: Bridgette Hobart Janeczko (USA) marathon swimmer
To vote for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year, visit the WOWSA Awards here.
Voting continues until December 31st 2016.
Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association