2019 World Open Water Swimming Performance Of The Year Nominees

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

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
* World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

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 Man of the Year, Aleksandra Bednarek of Poland was the Woman of the Year, Ross Edgley‘s Great British Swim won the Performance of the Year, and Icebears Hintertux by Josef Köberl won the Offering of the Year.

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

2019 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year Nominees:
1. 66th River Mile by Mally Richards (South Africa)
2. 100 km Ocean Swim by Pablo Fernández Álvarez (Spain)
3. Barbados to St. Lucia 151 km Crossing by Cameron Bellamy (South Africa)
4. Easter Island Swim by Sarah Ferguson (South Africa)
5. Father-and-Daughter Marathon Swims by Jessi & Richard Harewicz (Canada)
6. FINA/CNSG Marathon Swim World Series Victory by Kristóf Rasovszky (Hungary)
7. FINA UltraMarathon Swim Series Victory by Evgenij Pop Acev (North Macedonia)
8. Grand Slam of Open Water Swimming by Marcia Cleveland (USA)
9. Gulf of Finland Relay by Roman Karkachev, Timur Falomkin, Andrey Zamyslov, Anton Kutuev (Russia)
10. Ice Kilometer World Record by Sven Elfferich (Netherlands)
11. Iron Iceman by Dr. Alexandre Fuzeau (France)
12. Maui Nui Swim by Becca Mann (Hawaii)
13. Oceans Seven by Jonathan Ratcliffe (UK)
14. Pitcairn Island Swim by Alex Kostich (USA)
15. Sea of Galilee Two-Way Crossing by Avishag Turek
16. Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming by Elizabeth Almond (USA)

1. 66th River Mile by Mally Richards (South Africa)
Since 1947, Mally Richards has been competing in the The River Mile in South Africa’s Nelson Mandela Bay. The 85-year-old Richards just keeps on going on and on, coming back annually without failure and without stopping. The Jeffreys Bay grandfather extended his current world record for Participation Longevity in an Open Water Swim after completing his 66th edition in Africa’s oldest open water competition. For setting an unprecedented streak in the open water swimming world that may never be broken – other than by himself, for quietly, humbly and competitively participating in a local swim in Nelson Mandela Bay – together many times with his son (a 6-time winner) and two grandsons, and for continuing to be an impressive role model of good living who thoroughly enjoys swimming as part of a healthy lifestyle, the 66th River Mile by Mally Richards is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

2. 100 km Ocean Swim by Pablo Fernández Álvarez (Spain)
With an overriding goal of completing several unprecedented open water swims around the world, Madrid swimmer Pablo Fernández Álvarez has completed swims from Senegal to Gambia and from U.S. Virgin Islands to Puerto Rico, and participated in the Great Shark Swim in South Africa and completed a 5 km shackled swim in California. But an incredible amount of oceanographic, meteorological and logistical planning was necessary for his longest swim to date: Fastest Solo 100 km Open Water Swim. His team located a point well off of Jupiter along the eastern coast of Florida where he took advantage of the roaring currents of the Gulf Stream. For swimming the world’s fastest solo current-assisted 100 km open water swim called the Century Swim in the Gulf Stream, in 12 hours 21 minutes, for documenting and filming the attempt in such a remote location to share as an inspiration for other adventurers, for creating and achieving such a focused goal despite its myriad obstacles, the Guinness World Record 100 km ocean swim by Pablo Fernández Álvarez of Spain is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

3. Barbados to St. Lucia 151 km Crossing Cameron Bellamy (South Africa)
Even after his unprecedented 96 circumnavigation swim around Barbados, Cameron Bellamy’s insatiable appetite for marathon swimming continued. He planned and trained for a 165 km swim from Cuba to Florida. But political and bureaucratic obstacles were insurmountable after a year of hard training that included three 24-hour training swims in Barbados. So he shifted gears and looked globally for a comparably difficult swim to the Cuba-Florida crossing. He decided to attempt an unprecedented swim from Barbados to St. Lucia. Feeling confident and with a strong support team behind him in Barbados and Saint Lucia, he was all-in and went all-out as is his modus operandi. He set off to become the first person to swim across the 151 km channel crossing from Barbados to St. Lucia. After 56 hours 26 minutes swimming steadily in the warm, highly salinated water, Bellamy was greeted onshore by hundreds of admirers including the Prime Minister of St. Lucia. For creating a successful charitable organization called the Ubunye Challenge that raises funds for myriad causes, for utilizing his training base and logistical talents to pioneer a 151 km channel swim in the Caribbean Sea, and for planning and executing the year’s longest ocean swim in duration while inspiring the Caribbean swimming community while working in Silicon Valley, the Barbados to St. Lucia 151 km channel crossing by Cameron Bellamy is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

4. Easter Island Swim by Sarah Ferguson (South Africa)
Far, far, far away from any continent, Sarah Ferguson set off on bringing attention to plastic pollution in the world’s oceans through her unprecedented 60 km circumnavigation swim around Easter Island in Polynesia. 19 hours 8 minutes after starting at 8:07 am, she finished at 3:15 am in a charity swim supported by Plastic Oceans International and Breathe Conservation. It was challenging, turbulent adventure with uncertainty throughout, but Ferguson and her multi-national team led by John McCarthy ultimately succeeded around Rapa Nui. For her pioneering swim where she overcame jellyfish and highly salinated water, for working intelligently towards solving the problem of plastic pollution with global organizations, and for setting a record while inspiring others to rethink plastic via environmental activism, the Easter Island swim by Sarah Ferguson is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

5. Father-and-Daughter Marathon Swims by Jessi & Richard Harewicz (Canada)
A father’s unconditional love and paternal desire to protect his daughter are among the most powerful and profound emotions on Planet Earth. 67-year-old Richard Harewicz and his daughter Jessi embody that strong connection on dryland and – especially – in the open water. Dad guides daughter, looking after her, feeding her, motivating her. The Canadian duo were inseparable on Jessi’s journey to the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming when she completed the 20 Bridges Manhattan Island Swim, English Channel and Catalina Channel crossings. But their bond was ever so clear and evident on Jessi’s Long Swim Home across the Strait of Georgia in Vancouver. The 59 km unprecedented crossing in British Columbia in the Salish Sea took 30 hours 13 minutes. For the father-and-daughter team that share a deep passion for open water swimming, for the paternal love and protection that are so evident to everyone around them, and for their volunteer work in support of other swimmers and the open water swimming community in Vancouver and the American Northwest, the father-and-daughter marathon swims by Jessi and Richard Harewicz is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

6. FINA/CNSG Marathon Swim World Series Victory by Kristóf Rasovszky (Hungary)
Kristóf Rasovszky, whose nickname is The Balaton Shark, performed consistently well throughout 2019. He won the always competitive FINA/CNSG Marathon Swim World Series and the tough 5 km race at the FINA World Championships. He qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by placing a close 4th in the 10 km FINA World Championships in South Korea. On the pro 10 km Marathon Swim World Series, the 22-year-old finished 2nd (1.3 seconds from 1st) in Qatar, 3rd in Seychelles (2.3 from 1st), won in Balatonfüred (by 7 seconds), won in lac St-Jean (by 12.5 seconds), won in lac Mégantic (by 1.8 seconds), and 5th in Chun’An (12.7 seconds from 1st) to capture his first World Series title. For competing so strongly in every race he entered among the world’s fastest swimmers, for qualifying for the 2020 Olympics amid a busy global travel schedule, and for his noble competitive spirit and composure during the highest levels of competition especially during the final sprint to the finish, Kristóf Rasovszky of Hungary is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

7. FINA UltraMarathon Swim Series Victory by Evgenij Pop Acev (North Macedonia)
Evgenij Pop Acev won the FINA UltraMarathon Swim Series on the sixth and last race of the circuit in 6 hours 53 minutes. After going back and forth against Italian rival Edoardo Stochino all season long, the Series title came down to a mano-a-mano competition within the 36 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli in Italy. The 31-year-old marathon swimming veteran gutted out the global title with a 6 hour 53 minute swim, 6 minutes ahead of defending FINA UltraMarathon Swim Series champion Stochino. After finishing 6th in the 15 km Maratón Acuática Internacional Santa Fe – Coronda (Argentina), 4th in the 15 km Maratón Acuática Internacional Ciudad de Rosario (Argentina), 5th in the 32 km Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean (Canada), 2nd in the 25 km Ohrid Lake Swim Marathon (North Macedonia), and 2nd in 20 km Novi (Croatia), he finished 3rd in the 36 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli (Italy) to capture his third career world title. For traveling the world and representing North Macedonia well as a personable, seriously-minded ambassador on the international swimming scene, for training hard and serving as an inspiration for young athletes in every sport, and for winning his third career title on the FINA UltraMarathon Swim Series, the FINA UltraMarathon Swim Series victory in the Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli by Evgenij Pop Acev is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

8. Grand Slam of Open Water Swimming by Marcia Cleveland (USA)
Marcia Cleveland has been swimming fast, coaching extensively, writing descriptively, educating widely, administering selflessly, and inspiring many for decades. In particular, her cumulative time for the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming in 24 hours 38 minutes (that includes a 9 hour 44 minute crossing of the English Channel, an 8 hour 56 minute crossing of the Catalina Channel, and a 5 hour 57 minute circumnavigation of Manhattan Island) is the fastest in history. Her year-end completion of the 38.6 km Tampa Bay Marathon Swim in 11 hours 19 minutes gave her the second fastest cumulative time of the Grand Slam of Open Water Swimming, men or women. The 55-year-old coach, author and mentor faced strong headwinds and navigated the 2-foot surface chop in Tampa Bay with the ease and composure of a veteran with several dozens of marathon swims under her cap. For her continued speed that she has maintained into her mid-50’s, for her December 31st attempt as a solo effort on the tidal Tampa Bay rough water course, and for sharing her enthusiasm for the sport despite taking a month to recover from the swim, the Grand Slam of Open Water Swimming by Marcia Cleveland is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

9. Gulf of Finland Relay by Roman Karkachev, Timur Falomkin, Andrey Zamyslov, Anton Kutuev (Russia)
Marathon swims across the Gulf of Finland in the easternmost arm of the Baltic Sea occur in the summer when the water warms up, but four Russian swimmers Roman Karkachev, Timur Falomkin, Andrey Zamyslov, and Anton Kutuev decided to challenge themselves to a 25 km relay swim across the Gulf of Finland in late October. The foursome started off with 30-minute legs from Yelagin Island in St. Petersburg to Kotlin Island in the Baltic Sea. The water temperature started at 7°C and never rose above 10°C. Their major challenge was the short recovery time between each leg repeated 7 times without hot tubs and saunas, but they prepared with an onboard doctor of physiology who cleared each swimmer each time. For each swimmer cumulatively swimming 153 minutes each (they swam together the last part of the relay) in very cold water, for accepting a challenge that pushed themselves to their physical limits, and for the genuine camaraderie and ambiance that they enjoyed along their journey, the Gulf Of Finland Relay by Roman Karkachev, Timur Falomkin, Andrey Zamyslov and Anton Kutuev is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

10. Ice Kilometer World Record by Sven Elfferich (Netherlands)
At the Austrian Ice Swimming Championships in Freizeitverein Altenwörth, 17-year-old Sven Elfferich swam at a speed never before seen in the ice swimming world. His new world record for the Ice Kilometer was the first time that the 12-minute barrier was broken. The teenager swam a blazing 11 minutes 55:40 seconds in the 3.60°C water in a 25m pool build in a tributary of the Danube River. Breathing bilaterally and swimming with a very high body position in the water, Elfferich swims with textbook technique enhanced with very quick open turns. The Dutch teenager opened up a new chapter in ice swimming and will be a force to reckon with long into the future. For breaking the existing world record of 4-time Bulgarian Olympian Petar Stoychev of 12:15.87, for building upon his earlier age group world records and achieving his potential, and for his youthful exuberance and genuine excitement while serving as one of the ice swimming community’s most acclaimed swimmers, the Ice Kilometer world record swim by Sven Elfferich is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

11. Iron Iceman by Dr. Alexandre Fuzeau (France)
In mid-winter in Volendam, Netherlands, Dr. Alexandre Fuzeau completed an Ice Mile in 36 minutes 27 seconds in 4.97°C water. While there were 419 Ice Miles successfully completed to date, Dr. Fuzeau only took another 6 months to become an Iron Iceman. The 53-year-old French extreme athlete and co-organizer of the IISA France Ice Swimming Championship, completed a 14 hour 48 minute Ironman Triathlon in Hamburg, Germany in August. This quick turnaround from training to be an ice swimmer and working as an event director to preparing for a full Ironman was the fastest extreme sport transition in the open water swimming community this year – or ever. For expanding his extreme sport resume and setting a Guinness World Record for doing both an Ice Mile and a full Ironman Triathlon within one calendar year, for continuing to travel the world to satisfy his insatiable taste for adventure while doing research and publishing papers on ice swimming, for participating in the International Ice Swimming World Championship winning two silver medals in the 50m and 100m breaststroke and two bronze medals in the 50m butterfly and the 500m freestyle while training to be an Ironman triathlete, the Iron Iceman achievement by Dr. Alexandre Fuzeau is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

12. Maui Nui Swim by Becca Mann (Hawaii)
The Maui Nui Swim, a non-stop cross-current triple ocean channel swim between the Hawaiian Islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai, had last been attempted 30 years ago and never been successfully completed. 21-year-old Becca Mann, a published author and world-class pool and marathon swimmer with national and international titles under her cap, was looking for a totally new challenge – and the Maui Nui met all her parameters. With a highly veteran escort and support crew alongside her, Mann set off from Maui on the 57.78 km course with loads of excitement and a bit of innocence as to what she was about to experience. While she had finished 6th in the USA Swimming national 10K championships earlier in the year, she was swimming well beyond anything she had ever done before in the deep blue waters of Hawaii. Rough water, strong winds and changing currents relentlessly battered her about as her confidence waned a bit, but Mann kept going with a focused mindset and completed the Maui Nui in 20 hours 53 minutes. For completely an unprecedented ocean course in Hawaii, for swimming over 3 times as long as she had ever done before in the Pailolo, Kalohi and Auau Channels, and for finishing 4th overall in Waikiki Roughwater Swim only two weeks later, the Maui Nui Swim by Becca Mann of the USA is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

13. Oceans Seven by Jonathan Ratcliffe (UK)
Jonathan Ratcliffe uses his Oceans Seven channel swims to raise money and awareness for CROPS. He valiantly completed the last 4 of his Oceans Seven channels in the final 8 months of 2019 with a massively difficult crossing of the 23 km Cook Strait in New Zealand. The 46-year-old father – whose wife and children accompany him in his escort boats – faced tidal challenges, whirlpools, currents and large ocean swells on his tough 11 hour 15 minute crossing from the North Island to Sound Island. Despite the cold water and difficult conditions that he faced right from the start until his last stroke, Ratcliffe was mentally focused and physically determined to become the 19th person in history to complete the Oceans Seven. For his charitable acts and swims that fund mentors to help develop the untapped potential of teenagers in Peterborough, for his difficult 8-month push to complete the Oceans Seven as a family affair, and for his long, difficult crossing on the last possible day of his swim window, Jonathan Ratcliffe’s Ocean Seven is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

14. Pitcairn Island Swim by Alex Kostich (USA)
Alex Kostich has succeeded – and lasted – in Hollywood for over two decades, responsible for the promotion of hit movies as his dryland profession. But it is in the ocean where Kostich has set his mark for the ages. After years of planning and closing in on the Circumnavigation Seven with a 19 km circumnavigation swim around Bora Bora, several 4.3 km swims around Naples Island in California, a 20.1 km Swim Around Key West in Florida, Kostich completed his most adventurous and treacherous circumnavigation yet: a 9.8 km very roughwater swim around Pitcairn Island way out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Just getting out to one of the world’s most remote inhabited islands took careful logistical planning and had to be delayed for months. Then his window of opportunity closed on him due to inclement weather and he set off not knowing if the swim was even remotely doable. But 2 hours 37 minutes after he started, the small community of Pitcairn will forever remember the island’s swimming pioneer. For mapping out a detailed plan to get to and pioneer a swim around Pitcairn Island located 2,170 km from Tahiti and 6,600 km from Panama, for swimming through heavy surf and wavy conditions with a large degree of uncertainty about finishing, for being bold and adventurous enough to swim outside of his comfort zone, the circumnavigation swim of Pitcairn Island by Alex Kostich is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

15. Sea of Galilee Two-Way Crossing by Avishag Turek
The 21 km lengthwise crossing of Sea of Galilee is rapidly gaining in popularity with the increased participation of marathon swimmers, administrators, officials, volunteers and pilots in Israel. Avishag Turek has emerged as the most prolific marathon swimmer and became the first person to complete a 41 km two-way crossing of the Sea of Galilee in 14 hours 54 minutes. The 43-year-old’s pioneering efforts are inspiring others – domestically in Israel and international swimmers from around the globe – to follow her large wake of accomplishments. For being the first Israeli to complete the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming and achieving many other firsts for Israeli marathon swimmers, for helping promote marathon swimming in the Sea of Galilee, and for serving as a role model and Israeli icon with her unprecedented feats, the Sea of Galilee two-way crossing by Avishag Turek is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

16. Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming by Elizabeth Almond (USA)
Elizabeth Almond is a former triathlete-turned-marathon swimmer who completed the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming in 84 days, the 7th fastest period to complete a 33.5 km crossing of the English Channel (in 12 hours 1 minute), a 32.3 km crossing of the Catalina Channel (in 14 hours 19 minutes), and a circumnavigation swim around Manhattan Island (in 7 hours 43 minute). In the first summer of her marathon swimming career, she quickly achieved the Triple Crown, but she was completely focused on enjoying each experience. In preparing for her swims, she still mentored many, always taking time and significant effort to coach, encourage and support her training mates to reach their own goals. For completing her Triple Crown journey on June 1st and finishing on August 24th in a hectic summer, for enjoying the achievement with her husband and sister on her escort boat, and for humbly and passionately helping others around her to realize their open water dreams, the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming by Elizabeth Almond is a worthy nominee for the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

To vote for your favorite athlete and their performance, visit www.openwaterswimming.com.

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