Photos of Jaimie Monahan courtesy of Arik Thormahlen.

The WOWSA Awards are an annual selection of outstanding individuals and offerings in the following categories: World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year, World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year, World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year, and World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

There were innumerable outstanding women throughout the international open water swimming community in 2017 with so many possible award winners and nominees. The criteria was based on the woman who best embodies the spirit of open water swimming, possesses the sense of adventure, tenacity and perseverance that open water swimmers are known for, and most positively influenced the world of open water swimming in calendar year 2017.

Jaimie Monahan of New York clearly fit that description based on her marathon swims and ice swims around the world. Among her peers of any age and any niche specialist, including the following 12 nominees, there was no one more active in the open water than the 38-year-old busy New Yorker:

1. Katherine Batts (Great Britain)
2. Dr. Caroline Block (USA)
3. Arianna Bridi (Italy)
4. Chloë McCardel (Australia)
5. Ana Marcela Cunha (Brazil)
6. Pat Gallant-Charette (USA)
7. Ludmila Maller (Russia)
8. Jaimie Monahan (USA)
9. Aurélie Muller (France)
10. Barbara Pozzobón (Italy)
11. Sarah Thomas (USA)
12. Julia Wittig(Germany)

Steven Munatones described her ubiquitous presence all over the world, “In addition being among the top-ranked swimmers on the International Winter Swimming Association‘s World Cup series and competing in Latvia, Russia, China and England, she completed marathon swims around Manhattan Island – twice in a row, across Vermont’s lac Memphrémagog and Italy’s Lago Maggiore, in Germany’s ice swimming world championships in Baveria, across the Strait of Magellan in Chile, around Mercer Island in Washington, and racing from Argentina to Siberia in nearly frozen bodies of water.

She also was the first person in history to complete the Ice Sevens and the first female Ice Zero Swimmer under the International Ice Swimming Association rules.

What she does is beyond incredible; her versatility in competing in ice-water sprints and warm-water marathons while balancing a full-time job and globetrotting around the world in a non-stop swimming itinerary is flat-out impressive, especially given the fact that she relentlessly serves as a charismatic ambassador for marathon swimming and winter swimming.


People around the world also viewed her similarly and voted her as the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

Monahan – and all the other nominees – as well as the innumerable other younger girls and older women who ventured offshore throughout 2017, deserve all the accolades they receive for their achievements, grit and sense of adventure. They organized and planned, trained and acclimated, inspired and achieved beyond what many thought possible.”

The Triple Crowner and Ice Ironwoman had a prolific Barraesque year that included the following swims:

• January: she finished 17th overall in the 2017 Ice Swimming Aqua Sphere World Championships in Burghausen, Germany in the 1 km event
• January: she competed in the 50m, 100m, 200m and 500m freestyle races as well as the 50m breaststroke
• February: she completed Ice Sevens swim #3 in Aguelmame Sidi Ali Lake, Morocco in 4.9°C water (-0.5°C wind chill + 3°C air) in 32:18 in a mountain lake with 14 km/hr wind speed
• March: she completed Ice Sevens swim #4 within the Arctic Circle in Mikkelvik Brygge, Karlsøy, Norway in 2.37°C water (-3.5°C air) in 32:09 in the sea with 4 km/hr wind speed
• March: she completed Ice Sevens swim #5 at M Street Beach, Boston, USA in 4.63°C water (6.1°C wind chill + 9°C air) in 26:16 in the sea with 20 km/hr wind speed
• April: she completed a 4 km Strait of Magellan solo crossing in 1 hour 10 minutes
• May: she completed Ice Sevens swim #6 in Tasman Lake, Aoraki Mt. Cook, New Zealand in 2.37°C water (14°C air) in 26:44 in a glacier lake
• June: she completed the 20 km (13-mile) Mercer Island Marathon Swim in Washington in 8 hours 39 minutes
• July: she completed a 40 km lac Memphrémagog solo crossing (In Search of Memphre) in 14 hours 18 minutes
• July: she won the inaugural 40 Bridges – Double Manhattan Island Swim of 91.6 km in 20 hours 12 minutes (8:35:43 first circumnavigation + 11:36:28 second circumnavigation) while setting the two-loop circumnavigation swim record
• July: she completed the first Ice Sevens in history by swimming a mile non-stop below 5°C under International Ice Swimming Association rules on all 7 continents including a Polar Mile and an Ice Zero Mile
• July: she completed Ice Sevens swim #7 in Ushuaia, Argentina in 4.76°C water (5.9°C air) in 29:05 in the Beagle Channel
• August: she completed the 14 km Thames Marathon from Henley-on-Thames to Marlow in 3 hours 12 minutes, finishing as the first non-wetsuit female and second non-wetsuit overall
• August: she completed the 27.3 km Rose Pitonof Swim in New York in 5 hours 2 minutes
• August: she completed a 64 km Lago Maggiore solo crossing in Italy in 24 hours 2 minutes
• October: she completed a 15.2 km New York Bay swim from Verrazano Bridge to Marine Parkway in 3 hours 40 minutes as a test swim for Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers
• December: she completed a 2 km swim in 6°C water and 0°C air temperature in 37 minutes in Tyumen, Siberia, Russia

Arik Thormahlen explained how her tireless activities in the open water do not start and end at the water’s edge. “Outside the water, Jaimie serves as President of the Lake Geneva Swimming Association, works a demanding full-time job for a leading professional services firm, and is an avid supporter of the New York Public Library.”

Munatones summed up her year, Jaimie always seems to be swimming and flying everywhere, doing everything, in the open water world throughout 2017: swimming in Latvia, China, England, Germany, Morocco, Norway, Boston, Chile, New Zealand, Washington, Vermont, Argentina, New York, Italy, Siberia, and traveling to many more airports and via innumerable taxis, trains and shuttle buses.

Her performed well from cold to warm temperatures, from short to long distances, and from calm to rough conditions, and is the first person to win two consecutive WOWSA Awards in the Woman of the Year category.


Monahan joined the following past winners of the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year:

* 2008: Edith van Dijk of the Netherlands
* 2009: Poliana Okimoto of Brazil
* 2010: Anne Marie Ward of Ireland
* 2011: Pilar Geijo of Argentina
* 2012: Annaleise Carr of Canada
* 2013: Olga Kozydub of Russia
* 2014: Nataliya Fatyanova, M.D. of Russia
* 2015: Bridgette Hobart Janeczko of U.S.A.
* 2016: Jaimie Monahan of U.S.A.
* 2017: Jaimie Monahan of U.S.A.

For the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year Award, see here.

For the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year Award, see here.

For the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year Award, see here.

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