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Sunday, June 4, 2017. The Daily News of Open Water Swimming

The World Open Water Swimming Association last published its list of the World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Men in 2017.

Without a doubt, these 50 men lead daring, courageous, and audacious lifestyles with mindsets that are rare.

Similar to other dryland adventurers who challenge Mother Nature amid snow-covered mountains, dense jungles, inhospitable deserts, sheer cliff walls, and dissimilar to watermen who tackle the marine environment using kayaks, surfboards, paddleboards, and boats, the 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Men only use swimsuits, goggles and swims cap to push the envelope of what is possible.

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.


In terms of equipment and gear, the World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Men are least armed of the world's most adventurous men once they step off the shoreline. Lewis Pugh, Ger Kennedy, and Petar Stoychev, they were no clothes and have no protective gear: they are suited up with the most basic covering around their private parts and eyes.

Although these open water adventurers can be easily and certainly be injured in any number of ways in the ocean, rivers and lakes, they all take calculated risks after careful planning, lengthy acclimatization periods, and intense training.

The 2015 list of World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Men included both contemporary aquatic adventurers as well as men who in retirement. In contrast, the 2017 list includes active watermen, focusing on men who have done unprecedented swims of note or a significant number of risk-inherent channel, lake, marathon or ice swims. These men have proven themselves in high-level competitions and solo swims, and men who have safely guided many swimmers of various abilities in rough waters, with emphasis on men who have repeatedly swum in waters that are colder, rougher and longer than the English Channel:

"The list includes men from 19 countries including England, Mexico, Australia, South Africa, Tunisia, Russia, Italy, USA, Ireland, Dominican Republic, France, Spain, Estonia, Serbia, Argentina, New Zealand, Bulgaria, Slovenia, and Germany which is indicative that the sense of adventure in the open water is global and inherent among many," explains Steven Munatones. "There are thousands of men who have done ocean, lake and river swims that are off the charts. But this list is symbolic of the very best, the crème de la crème. For example, what Cyril Baldock and Dr. Otto Thaning are doing in their 70s is remarkable and what Ram Barkai, Andrew Chin, Kieron Palframan, Ryan Stramrood, and Toks Viviers did in Patagonia was mind-boggling. Same with Nejib Belhedi who swam along the coast of Tunisia or what Vito Bialla is doing out to the Farallon Islands or what Salvatore Cimmino is doing with one leg or what James Pittar is doing without sight. Their accolades go on and on, but one thing appears to be true: these men like Craig Lenning and Pádraig Mallon are quiet, humble innovators in the open water, inspirational to many."

Adventure involves not only the difficulty of the swim itself, but also the creativity of the course and uniqueness of the location. But toughness is one critical and fundamental element to be named on the list. "Personal toughests for me were our Antarctica one-mile swim in 2014, the attempt of the solo Russia-USA crossing last year, the English Channel, Patagonia Extreme Cold Water Challenge, and earlier on, my attempt with a bunch of Taiwanese to swim from Taiwan to China," recalls Ryan Stramrood, one of the many South Africans on the list.

2017 World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Men:
1. Dr. Doron Amosi, extreme relay/cross-border swimmer from Israel
2. Antonio Argüelles Díaz-González, channel swimmer and endurance athlete from Mexico
3. Cyril Baldock, marathon/channel swimmer from Australia
4. Ram Barkai, administrator, event organizer and ice swimmer from South Africa
5. John Batchelder, butterflying marathon swimmer from USA
6. Nejib Belhedi, marathon/stage/boat pull swimmer from Tunisia
7. Alexander Brylin, channel ice swimmer from Russia
8. Luc Chetboun, extreme relay/cross-border swimmer from Israel
9. Salvatore Cimmino, amputee advocate and marathon/extreme swimmer from Italy
10. Jean Craven, marathon/extreme swimmer from South Africa
11. Ned Denison, IMSHOF administrator and marathon/ice swimmer from Ireland
12. Craig Dietz, disabled open water swimmer from USA
13. Ben Enosh, extreme relay/cross-border swimmer from Israel/USA
14. Udi Erell, extreme relay/cross-border swimmer from Israel
15. Stephen Junk, channel swimmer from Australia
16. Henri Kaarma, event organizer and ice swimmer from Estonia
17. Ger Kennedy, ice, underwater and extreme swimmer from Ireland
18. Craig Lenning, marathon/channel/ice swimmer from the USA
19. Neil Macaskill, extreme/cross-border swimmer from South Africa
20. Pádraig Mallon, escort pilot, event organizer and marathon/channel/ice swimmer from Ireland
21. Ingemar Patiño Macarine, channel/marathon swimmer from the Philippines
22. Andrew Malinak, administrator and cold water/marathon/channel swimmer from the USA
23. Chris Marthinusen, extreme/high-altitude swimmer from South Africa
24. Patrick McKnight, marathon/channel swimmer from the USA
25. Allan McLeland, Peak and Pond swimmer/climber from the USA
26. Darren Miller, channel swimmer and event director from the USA
27. Rohan More, marathon/channel swimmer from India
28. Gullupilli Narhari, extreme relay swimmer from India
29. Matías Ola, event organizer and ice/extreme swimmer from Argentina
30. Kieron Palframan, ice/extreme swimmer from South Africa
31. James Pittar, blind marathon/channel swimmer from Australia
32. Javier Mérida Prieto, disabled Triple Crown swimmer from Spain
33. Lewis Pugh OIG, ocean advocate and ice/extreme swimmer from the UK
34. Oded Rahav, extreme relay/cross-border swimmer from Israel
35. Stephen Redmond, channel/marathon swimmer from Ireland
36. Adrian Sarchet, marathon/channel swimmer from Guernsey
37. Ori Sela, extreme relay/cross-border swimmer from Israel
38. Dan Simonelli, coach/guide/observer and marathon/channel swimmer from the USA
39. Paramvir Singh, extreme relay swimmer from India
40. Albert Sobirov, ice swimmer from Russia
41. Petar Stoychev, marathon/channel/ice/Olympic swimmer from Bulgaria
42. Ryan Stramrood, ice/extreme swimmer from South Africa
43. Martin Strel, marathon/stage swimmer from Slovenia
44. Dr. Otto Thaning, channel/marathon swimmer from South Africa [shown above]
45. Jacques Tuset, prison island swimmer from France
46. Toks Viviers, ice/extreme swimmer from South Africa
47. Adam Walker, coach, event organizer, and channel swimmer from England
48. Christof Wandratsch, event organizer and ice/marathon/channel/professional swimmer from Germany
49. Brenton Williams, event organizer and butterfly ocean swimmer from South Africa [in photo above by Clive Wright]
50. Herman van der Westhuizen, extreme high-altitude swimmer from South Africa

Each of these men are true heroes, for various reasons. Salvatore Cimmino, who is a disabled amputee, explains his extreme swims around the world, "I dedicate my efforts and this appreciation [for my swims] to the voicelesses because it's not only an award for me, but also for all persons with disabilities who daily struggle for their rights."

The list of the 2015 World's Most Adventurous Open Water Women is here.

Copyright © 2008-2017 by World Open Water Swimming Association

By Steve Munatones

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