Gulf Of Finland Relay Is 2019 World Open Water Swimming Performance Of The Year

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Cold…bone-chilling cool.

Long…mind-boggling long.

Difficult…unbelievably difficult.

Fast…world-class fast.

All of the nominees in the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year could be defined by these adjectives.

The WOWSA Awards are an annual selection of outstanding individuals and their feats that include the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

The Gulf of Finland Relay won the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year. Voting from around the world indicated that voters’ definition for the world’s best performance was as varied as the bodies of water where the nominees swam.

But it was the four men (Roman Karkachev, Timur Falomkin, Andrey Zamyslov, Anton Kutuev) and the support crew of the Gulf of Finland Relay that ultimately won the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.

The 2019 nominees for the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year were as follows:

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 (Israel)
16. Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming by Elizabeth Almond (USA)

Each one of these nominees are so deserving of all the public recognition that they receive,” observed WOWSA founder Steven Munatones. “They are emblematic of all the greatness and talent found in the sport today. They all possess steely determination, a deep well of patience, a heartfelt passion, and an indescribable tolerance for discomfort, and intense focus on their goals.”

The Gulf of Finland Relay by Roman Karkachev, Timur Falomkin, Andrey Zamyslov, and Anton Kutuev were voted as the 2019 winners in the global poll. 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 the four Russian swimmers decided to challenge themselves to a 25 km relay swim across the Gulf of Finland in late October.

On October 20th, the men swam 25 km across the Gulf of Finland from Yelagin Island in St. Petersburg to Kotlin Island finishing in 9 hours 52 minutes 40 seconds in the 7°C – 9.6°C water.

The foursome started off with 30-minute legs 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 that was repeated 7 times without hot tubs and saunas onboard. The men prepared for each leg with the help of an onboard doctor of physiology who cleared each swimmer before they entered the cold gulf each time.

Karkachev, Falomkin, Zamyslov, and Kutuev cumulatively swam 153 minutes each and finished the relay swimming together.

WOWSA Awards World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year Recipients:
* 2009 Performance of the Year: Andrew Smilley (Cayman Islands) for his performance at the RCP Tiburon Mile in San Francisco
* 2010 Performance of the Year: Ventura Deep Six (U.S.A.) for its 202-mile (325 km) relay in 101 hours 39.53 minutes along the California coast by Jim McConica, Tom Ball, Kurtis Baron, Jim Neitz, Mike Shaffer and John Chung
* 2011 Performance of the Year: Nejib Belhedi (Tunisia) for his coastal 1400 km Swim Across Tunisia
* 2012 Performance of the Year: Juan Ignacio Martínez Fernández-Villamil (Spain_ for organizing the Descenso a Nado de la Ría de Navia
* 2013 Performance of the Year: Bering Strait Swim, a 6-day relay across the Bering Strait by 121 swimmers, officials and crew
* 2014 Performance of the Year: Diomede Islands Swim, a 5.6 km tandem swim by Alexandr Brylin and Grigorii Prokopchuk (Russia) between the USA and Russia
* 2015 Performance of the Year: Strait of Messina record-breaking one-way crossing by Andrea Fazio (Italy)
* 2016 Performance of the Year: Sarah Thomas (U.S.A.) for her 128.7 km crossing of Lake Powell, Utah in 56 hours 5 minutes
* 2017 Performance of the Year: Margarita Llorens Bagur (Spain) for her 37-hour 73 km attempt between Ibiza and Javea in Islas Baleares
* 2018 Performance of the Year: Ross Edgley (UK) for his 157-day, 209-stage Great British Swim around Great Britain
* 2019 Performance of the Year: Roman Karkachev, Timur Falomkin, Andrey Zamyslov, and Anton Kutuev across the Gulf of Finland from St. Petersburg to Kotlin Island in 9 hours 52 minutes in 7°C – 9.6°C water

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