2019 World Open Water Swimming Man Of The Year Nominees

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

The WOWSA Awards are an annual selection of outstanding individuals and offerings. Online voting for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year ends on Friday, January 31st (at midnight California time).

The WOWSA Awards winners are selected by the public in an online poll where one vote is allowed by one computer/one person.

In 2018, Ion Lazarenco Tiron of the Republic of Moldava was the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

The nominees for the 2019 World Open Water Man of the Year, listed alphabetically, are as follows:

2019 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year Nominees:
1. Adherbal Treidler de Oliveira (Brazil)
2. Alex Fong Lik-sun (Hong Kong)
3. André Wiersig (Germany)
4. Attila Mányoki (Hungary)
5. Fergil Hesterman (Netherlands)
6. Florian Wellbrock (Germany)
7. Ger Kennedy (Ireland)
8. Masayuki Moriya (Japan)
9. Paul Georgescu (Romania)
10. Petar Stoychev (Bulgaria)
11. Robert McGlashan (Canada)
12. Thomas Pembroke (Australia)
13. Maarten van der Weijden (Netherlands)

1. Adherbal Treidler de Oliveira (Brazil)
Leme ao Pontal’s Brazilian music has inspired one of the most beautiful, challenging and enjoyable marathons in the world, due to the efforts of Adherbal Treidler de Oliveira. He created the Leme to Pontal Swimming Association which governs the Travessia do Leme ao Pontal Crossing, 36 km along the coast of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The coastal marathon starts at night usually under a starlit sky and along a coastline of one of the world’s liveliest cities that shines brightly at night. Adherbal oversees each swim with precision and logistical and operational professionalism. He communicates very well, puts each swimmer on a pedestal, sharing his own experiences as desired. He creates a festive finish and awards swimmers with immediate ratification, a prize and a commemorative video. He organizes a uniquely special day in the life of swimmers who challenge themselves from Leme to Pontal because he has swum across the English Channel and holds various channel and marathon swim records. For creating and managing one of the best solo and relay marathon swims in the world, for continuing to work even after his Molokai Channel attempt ended due to a shark attack and a serious injury, for being a warm-hearted, inspiring ambassador as a swimmer himself, Adherbal Treidler de Oliveira is a worthy candidate for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

2. Alex Fong Lik-sun (Hong Kong)
Alex Fong Lik-sun of Hong Kong completely took off swimming for 15 years after he represented his nation in the 200m backstroke and 400m IM at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. He transitioned his considerable talents – buoyed by an abundance of charisma – to dryland activities. Named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Persons in Hong Kong, he established a swimming school with the mission to Swim with Integrity and Meaning. After winning the 15 km Cold Half Extreme Marathon Swim, he later smashed the existing circumnavigation swim record around Hong Kong en route to becoming the 4th swimmer to complete the 45 km HK360 course in 10 hours 43 minutes. For returning to the swimming community with victories and records while inspiring many others to swim, for raising $4.5 million in donations in order to provide clean water to 450,000 Chinese citizens, and for diligently and tirelessly working as a role model for the next generation of swimmers and non-swimmers alike, Alex Fong Lik-sun is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

3. André Wiersig (Germany)
André Wiersig is a Hawaiian Ironman triathlete, marathon runner and ocean advocate who became the first Oceans Seven swimmer from Germany. He completed the Oceans Seven after a steady six-year journey around the world including an 18 hour 26 minute turbulent crossing of the Molokai Channel and a swift 9 hour 44 minute crossing of the English Channel. His approach to taking on the seven channel challenges is brutally refreshing and pragmatic; he takes the lessons learned from facing currents, waves, jellyfish and sharks, and applies this tough and flexible mindset to his professional IT work and everyday activities on dryland that includes serving as an ambassador for the German Ocean Foundation and working towards reducing plastic pollution in the oceans. He teaches others valuable life lessons and shares his concepts of how to live an adventurous, eco-friendly life amid all the comforts in the modern world. For transitioning from a bicycle and running shoes to become a powerful channel swimmer, for his inspirational messages about the marine environment that he shares with his colleagues, fans and younger generations, for being a personable, knowledgeable ambassador of the sport and the Oceans Seven, André Wiersig is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

4. Attila Mányoki (Hungary)
Attila Mányoki is doggedly determined with several dozens of marathon swims under his cap all over the world. But the North Channel presented a massive obstacle for the Hungarian Hall of Famer. He was pulled out unconscious in 2016. He was pulled out by his escort crew and hospitalized for over a week after swimming 10 hours 40 minutes in 2018 when jellyfish venom led to his left lung to collapse only 2 km from his goal. Despite 12 days in a hospital including 8 days in the intensive care and 6 days unable to breath on his own, he came back a year later to complete his last channel goal and became the first Hungarian and 18th person in history to achieve the Oceans Seven. For being a charismatic ambassador of open water swimming and professional marathon swimming from Asia to Hawaii and from Europe to South America, for showing how meticulous preparation over years increased his ability to acclimate to long-time cold water immersion, for eloquently giving TV and media interviews and sharing explanations about achieving the Oceans Seven in the fastest cumulative time in history of 64 hours 33 minutes, Attila Mányoki is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

5. Fergil Hesterman (Netherlands)
Fergil Hesterman, known as the Frozen Flying Dutchman, is a 26-year-old Dutch swimmer with 5 Ice Miles and 3 Ice Sevens under his cap. During 2019, the 26-year-old completed three fast Ice Kilometers (13:09 in January in Germany + 13:26 in January in the Netherlands + 12:42 in March in Russia) and won the season title on the inaugural International Ice Swimming Association World Cup Series over Petar Stoychev, Christof Wandratsch, and Sven Elfferich. But in addition to his cold water training and ice swimming accomplishments, Hesterman works hard behind the scenes to further develop and promote the sport of ice swimming. Together with Richard Broer and Christa Hesterman-van Beers, he co-founded and manages IISA Netherlands, sets up training groups for the Amstel Ice Swim, serves as the event organizer of the Amstel Ice Swim, helps at the Dutch Championships Ice Swimming and Bodengraven Ice Swim, organizes official courses to train more International Ice Swimming Association officials, and maintains national records and safety standards for ice swimming. For his heartfelt passion and foundational support of the sport that is building a strong base for the future, for his ice swimming speed and accomplishments around the world, and for mentoring, inspiring and helping beginner swimmers and local organizers in their early years, Fergil Hesterman is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

6. Florian Wellbrock (Germany)
Florian Wellbrock‘s improvement in the pool is mirrored with his concurrent improvement in speed and savvy strategy in the open water. In the 1500m in the pool, the 22-year-old German has improved from 32nd at the 2016 Rio Olympics in 15:23.88 to a gold medal at the 2019 FINA World Championships in 14:36.54. The massive increase in pool swimming speed and stamina has boosted his standing in the open water world. In the 10 km open water races, he has spectacularly vaulted from rarely competing on the FINA/HOSA Marathon Swim World Series between 2016 and 2019 to winning the most pressure-packed 10 km race at the 2019 FINA World Championships. He pulled off the rare Mellouli Double, but he did it in an unprecedented manner: two distance races = two gold medals. For initially winning the 10 km race by 0.2 seconds and then winning the 1500m freestyle by 1.09 seconds 12 days later at the FINA World Championships, for pulling off the rarest Mellouli Double of all time, and for qualifying first and becoming the biggest dual pre-Olympic favorite in both the Olympic 10 km Marathon Swim and the 1500m freestyle at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Florian Wellbrock is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

7. Ger Kennedy (Ireland)
Ger Kennedy, known as Dr. Ice, is among the most accomplished athletes in the world of extreme sports. After an eclectic professional career on dryland, Kennedy has transitioned his physical talents, grit and creativity to the ice swimming community. His innate charisma and buoyant personality make his ability to withstand incredibly cold conditions looks so easy. In addition to pushing himself in Under Ice Swims, Ice Baths, Polar Ice Miles, and Ice Mile Zero, he achieved the Ice Sevens Challenge by completing 7 different Ice Miles in Ireland, Norway, Siberia, Morocco, USA, and Australia that culminated in a 2,800-meter high altitude lake in Chile. He also helped organize open water events and Ironman triathlon swims in his native Ireland. For becoming the first man to complete the Ice Sevens, swimming’s most extreme physiological, psychological and logistical challenge, for mentoring and inspiring swimmers of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to achieve their own dreams, and for serving tirelessly and charismatically as an event director and ambassador of the sport, Ger Kennedy is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

8. Masayuki Moriya (Japan)
Japanese live in an island nation that stretches from the tropical paradise of Okinawa to its northerly prefecture of Hokkaido surrounded by the northern Pacific. Masayuki Moriya works year-round, traveling from north to south, east to west, traversing the entire nation while sharing his passion for open water swimming as a coach, race director, safety officer, channel swimming crew member, blogger, administrator, videographer, and swimming holiday leader. He teaches newcomers including elderly masters swimmers. For personally guiding, observing and organizing 21 solo and relay swims from 15 countries across the Tsugaru Channel and Sado Channel in northern Japan this year, for administering open water events with the Japanese Coast Guard and other relevant authorities, for his steady leadership of the sport in Japan, Masayuki Moriya is a worthy nominee for the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

9. Paul Georgescu (Romania)
Paul Georgescu can go very cold or very warm. The multi-talented triathlete, physical therapist, coach, referee, water polo player, and professor at the International British School of Bucharest has speed to burn in both ice swimming and warm channel swim. He completed the first Ice Mile by a Romanian in 3.02°C water and became the first Romanian to complete a 42 km crossing of the Molokai Channel in 13 hours 6 minutes. He also won the 500m International Ice Swimming Association World Championship title and finished 5th in the Ice Kilometer in Murmansk, Russia, and finished 7th in the International Ice Swimming Association World Cup Series. He also coached 12-16 year old students on the fastest English Channel mix gender relay of 2019. For demonstrating a wide range of open water swimming talents in cold and warm temperatures, for inspiring and mentoring swimmers of all ages in his native Romania, and for transforming himself from a water polo player and triathlete to one of the fastest ice swimmers in the world, Paul Georgescu is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

10. Petar Stoychev (Bulgaria)
Petar Stoychev is unique among all the world’s open water swimmers. He has been a 4-time Olympian in the pool and open water, a national administrator in his native Bulgaria, an influential FINA Committee representative, an English Channel record holder who has won an unprecedented number of FINA professional marathon races, and the world’s most dominant ice swimming champion. Within in Arctic Circle in Murmansk, he dramatically won the International Ice Swimming Association World Championships with the fastest second-half 500m split time in history. He completely dominated the 2019 World Ice Swimming Championships, setting the bar at the 1 km level. Just like in the English Channel and venues like lac St-Jean, the 42-year-old studied the requirements and rules of ice swimming and quickly became a two-time world ice swimming champion. For his emergence as a world champion in another aquatic discipline, for serving as a multilingual ambassador of the global ice swimming community, for helping to elevate the speed and expectation of world-class ice swimmers, Petar Stoychev is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

11. Robert McGlashan (Canada)
Robert McGlashan is an inspirational stalwart in the Great Lakes Open Water Adventures community that he co-founded in Lake Ontario, Canada. In addition to his mentoring and administration of the growing community of ice swimmers, winter swimmers, open water swimmers, channel swimmers and marathon swimmers in Canada and throughout the Great Lakes region, McGlashan achieved an impressive number of swims around the world in 2019. He swam from Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay, 3.9 km across the Strait of Magellan in Chile, 7.5 km in Lake Titicaca, Bolivia, the 36 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli in 9 hours 53 minutes, 50 km in Lake Geneva from Switzerland to France in 25 hours, and established the Cold Crusade where he swam 1.5 km in 1.8°C water in 20 minutes and 1 km in 3°C water in 15.35 minutes 8 days apart in Lake Ontario. For working to promote, mentor and support the growing open water swimming community year-round in the Great Lakes region, for working towards more challenging goals around the globe and documenting his journey, and for establishing a new ice swimming charity event for Shelter Movers in Canada, Robert McGlashan is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

12. Thomas Pembroke (Australia)
Thomas Pembroke is a teacher and role model on dryland – and does the same while swimming channels around the world. The Australian swimmer and a teacher at St Pius X College became the 13th person and youngest swimmer in history to complete the Oceans Seven. While inspiring the youth under his guidance, he also raises money and awareness for MS Research Australia to help those with multiple sclerosis. He was relentless, continuing to push himself despite an initial DNF in his first attempt across the Tsugaru Channel in Japan. For simultaneously serving as global adventurer, a passionate educator, a young inspiration, for pushing himself in swims between 4 and 15 hours to achieve the Oceans Seven, for being a personable, cheerful humanitarian who selflessly and humbly raises money for various charities on each channel swim, Thomas Pembroke is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

13. Maarten van der Weijden (Netherlands)
Maarten van der Weijden embodies the very definition of a hero and an icon. He survived leukemia as a young emerging pool swimmer, despite losing half his body weight during the depths of his bout with cancer. But he came back to win the 2007 FINA World Championship 25 km title and 2008 Olympic 10K marathon swim. While focusing on helping cancer patients, he created the Maarten van der Weijden Foundation and raised 6.5 million euros for cancer research with an unprecedented 195 km neoprened canal swim in the Netherlands. For using his swimming, speaking and leadership skills to raise millions of euros in order to fund dozens of cancer studies, for overcoming his initial failure along the famed Elfstedentocht canal course in 2018, and for designing, successfully completing and promoting a new 195 km charity swim course in the canals of Netherlands, Maarten van der Weijden is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

To vote for your favorite athlete by Friday midnight on January 31st, visit www.openwaterswimming.com.

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