TUESDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2017

World Open Water Swimming Man Of The Year Nominees

 
Courtesy of WOWSAHuntington Beach, California

The nominees for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year are an heroic and impressive group of individuals with exceptional exploits, histories and lifestyles. 

The nominees come from all over the world, although there are undoubtedly many more deserving individuals who were not named in addition to these individuals. Each one of the 2017 nominees makes a significant impact locally, nationally, and internationally, but there are always swimmers who accomplish remarkable feats and achieve mind-boggling goals that go under the radar. 

The WOWSA Awards are not necessarily for the best athletes, but are meant to honor the men and women who:

* best embody the spirit of open water swimming,
* possess the sense of adventure, tenacity and perseverance that open water swimmers are known for, and 
* have most positively influenced the world of open water swimming in calendar year 2017.

To vote for the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year via a global online poll, visit the WOWSA Awards here. You must register first to vote online.

These nominees for the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year include the following inspirational individuals:

1. Evgenij Pop Acev (Macedonia)
2. Antonio Argüelles (Mexico)
3. John Batchelder (USA) 
4. Guillermo Bertola (Argentina)
5. Avram Iancu (Romania) 
6. Stéphane Lecat (France)
7. Dr. Lucky Meisenheimer (USA)
8. Lynton Mortensen (Australia)
9. Simone Ruffini (Italy) 
10. Petar Stoychev (Bulgaria)
11. Sayed Ihsan Taheri (Afghanistan)
12. Ferry Weertman (Netherlands) 
13. Philip Yorke (Great Britain)

2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year nominees:

1. Evgenij Pop Acev (Macedonia)

Evgenij Pop Acev travels the world representing Macedonia, not exactly considered a swimming hotbed. But the 29-year-old puts his mind in the right spot and attacks professional marathon swims and international competitions around the world. This year, he won the overall title for the second time in his career, tying with Guillermo Bertola in the closest battle in FINA history. He finished 3rd in the 57 km Maratón Acuática Internacional Santa Fe – Coronda, finished 4th in the 16 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli, finished 3rd in the 32 km Traversée international du lac St-Jean, and finished 2nd in the 33 km Ohrid Lake Swimming Marathon. For representing his country well as a personable, seriously-minded ambassador on the international swimming scene, for training hard and serving as an inspiration in Macedonia, and for winning his second career title on the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix circuit, Evgenij Pop Acev is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year. 

2. Antonio Argüelles (Mexico)

Antonio Argüelles achieved the Oceans Seven at the age of 58, 20 years older than the average age of the other swimmers who have accomplished the same feat. His final two swims, celebrated throughout his native Mexico and respected in the channel swimming world, were tough: a 11 hour 20 minute 23 km crossing of the Cook Strait in New Zealand and a 13 hour 32 minute 35 km crossing of the North Channel between Ireland and Scotland. He trained hard for both, traveling frequently to San Francisco from Mexico City to acclimate to cold water. Speaking, writing and swimming, the entrepreneur shares his indomitable spirit with all those who he meets on his global journeys. For his inspirational life and words of encouragement that he constantly shares, for literally never giving up and achieving a goal that culminates his vast endurance sports resume, for expressing a palpable joy in the water via photos, videos and speeches, Antonio Argüelles is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

3. John Batchelder (USA) 

John Batchelder set the bar so high, it is almost inconceivable that any man will have the patience, passion and planning to replicate the totality of his butterfly open water achievements within one calendar year. The 36-year-old took on 19 open water races and channel swims - all butterfly - in addition to doing 3 marathon swims freestyle this year. His butterfly swims include a 38.6 km swim in Tampa, a 45.8 km swim in New York, a 30 km swim in Pittsburgh, a 19.3 km swim in Charleston, a 57.9 km swim in North Dakota, a 15.2 km swim in Arizona, a 17.7 km swim in Portland, and a Catalina Channel attempt. He knocks off these brutally tough all-butterfly swims with a calm demeanor and steely determination. He does all this swimming while balancing a busy corporate life and constant travel from coast to coast in the United States. For his indomitable spirit in the face of rough conditions, for his personal ambition to redefine toughness, for his understated joy while tackling channels, seas, rivers and lakes over 347 km in distance, John Batchelder is a worthy nominee for the 2015 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

4. Guillermo Bertola (Argentina)

Guillermo Bertola looks like an athlete with a hardened body and steely gaze. While he has been competing on the professional marathon swimming circuits for years, he has never risen to the top…until this year. The 27-year-old puts his mind in the right spot and aggressively attacks his training and professional marathon races around the world. This year, he won the overall title for the first time in his career, tying with Evgenij Pop Acev in the closest battle in FINA history. He won the 32 km Traversée international du lac St-Jean in Canada and finished 3rd in the 16 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli in Italy and the 33 km Ohrid Lake Swimming Marathon in Macedonia. He also competed in the FINA 10K World Cup circuit from Argentina to the UAE and competed in the 5 km team, 10 km and 25 km races at the 2017 FINA World Championships. For representing his country extraordinarily well as a personable, seriously-minded ambassador on the international swimming scene, for training hard and serving as an inspiration among young Argentine swimmers, and for winning his first career title on the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix circuit, Guillermo Bertola is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year. 

5. Avram Iancu (Romania) 

Avram Iancu wanted to do something very special – he wanted to swim 2,860 km across 10 European nations along the entire Danube River and four capital cities. He not only pushed himself longer than he ever imagined over the course of 89 days, but he also faced and overcame rougher and colder conditions than he ever thought possible. More importantly, he touched thousands of people who were inspired by his engaging personality, his humble manner, his visible strength of character, and the sheer physicality of his feat. The 41-year-old librarian graciously met local politicians and students; he spoke with celebrities and environmentalists; he swam with local people. For his 3-month promotion and celebration of the sport, for his minimalistic approach to stage swimming as he lived off the land without a large entourage or crew, for his personable approach to serving as a swimming ambassador throughout 11 European countries, Avram Iancu is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

6. Stéphane Lecat (France)

Stéphane Lecat was an outstanding professional marathon swimmer. He is replicating the athletic success he enjoyed in the water on dryland as the Directeur de L’Eau libre for the Fédération Française de Natation. As the French national team open water swimming program director, the 46-year-old is taking French swimming to unprecedented levels. Mirroring the efficiency of his powerful stroke, Lecat very effectively oversees the administration, development and organization of 35+ competitions in France and helping France’s best swimmers dominate the podium positions in international competitions. For laying the foundation for France’s 4 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze medals at the 2017 FINA World Championships, for mentoring the next generation of elite French swimmers and coaches at international junior competitions, for continuing an unparalleled level of excellence as an administrator for the sport, Stéphane Lecat is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

7. Dr. Lucky Meisenheimer (USA)

Dr. Lucky Meisenheimer walks out of his home to one of the most social, sincerely welcoming open water swimming clubs in the world. Lake Cane in Orlando, Florida has been home to tens of thousands of visitors and local swimmers who swim the famed 1 km circular venue whether they are training for the English Channel or just a way to stay young and fit. Dr. Meisenheimer has created an open water swimming nirvana through his passion for the sport, relentless flow of information, and his own engaging personality. From Olympians and celebrities to octogenarians and newcomers, the personable skin cancer surgeon opens his aquatic paradise to all-comers. For over 3 decades, he has hosted multiple competitions including Lucky’s Lake Swim, an official Historic Event of Central Florida, and created The Lake Cane Restoration Society, a non-profit organization to promote restoration of Florida waterways. Across generations, he has cheerfully inspired many of all ages and walks of life to take up open water swimming and achieve personal challenges. For his creativity of organizing an ideal ambiance for swimming in central Florida, for his hospitality in welcoming a vast number of swimmers to his backyard lake, for continuously promoting open water swimming, Dr. Lucky Meisenheimer is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

8. Lynton Mortensen (Australia)

Lynton Mortensen is a man for all seasons. He completed 4 Oceans Seven channel swims over the last calendar year and achieved the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming within 3 months. The 53-year-old Australian completed crossings of the Strait of Gibraltar, Rottnest Channel (twice), English Channel, North Channel, 20 Bridges Manhattan Island Swim, Catalina Channel and made an attempt of the Bristol Channel as part of Original Triple Crown in England. His English and North Channel crossings were 17 days apart; the fastest back-to-back turnaround for the two swims. On each of the swims he escorted the Roll of Honour (Afghanistan) Carrying 41, laying 41 poppies at the start and end of each swim as a tribute to those individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice and to bring create dialogue and support in addressing veteran suicide and PTSD of returned soldiers. For doing all these swims with an exuberance that brought smiles to people around the world, while raising money for his charity, the Children’s Hospital Foundation, to help ill children in need and their families, for being an everyday hero in completing these swims, Lynton Mortensen is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

9. Simone Ruffini (Italy) 

Simone Ruffini is extremely competitive with world-class speed in whatever conditions he finds himself in the open water. Line him up against any swimmers in any conditions in any location and Ruffini will always be a threat to win. He faced a season-long rivalry with Italian teammate Federico Vanelli that was the closest in FINA World Cup history. Separately by seconds at most and swimming shoulder-to-shoulder in 7 races in Argentina, the UAE, Portugal, Canada, China and Hong Kong, Ruffini won the 2017 FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup circuit against the fastest open water swimmers in the world. At the 2017 FINA World Championships, he placed 4th in the 25 km, only 6.7 seconds out of gold, and 7th in the 10 km, only 9.2 seconds out of gold. For being consistently competitive, for maintaining his composure under all conditions and in all situations, for continuing to be a personable ambassador of the sport in his native Italy and across the continents of the world, Simone Ruffini is a worthy nominee for the 2017 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, and an English Channel record holder who has won an unprecedented number of FINA professional marathon races. But this year, he dramatically added ice swimming to his record of success. He completely dominated the 2017 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 41-year-old studied the requirements and rules of ice swimming and quickly – but not unexpectedly – became a world champion. For his willingness to attempt a new aquatic discipline, for adding another world championship to his unprecedented record of success, for helping to elevate the speed, global awareness and expectations of the ice swimming world, Petar Stoychev is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

11. Sayed Ihsan Taheri (Afghanistan)

Sayed Ihsan Taheri from Kabul has been working on behalf of his fellow Afghans all his life. He currently goal is a challenge, both athletically and financially as well as culturally and operationally. As the president of the Afghanistan Swimming Federation and an official of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, he faces against significant obstacles, but the walls of resistance have not stopped him. On the international front, he serves as a member of the FINA Media Committee. On the domestic front, the 33-year-old is developing a domestic and international swimming program for girls and women in Afghanistan. He has reached out to potential benefactors, expatriate Afghans, and supporters locally and internationally. For his vision to create a domestic and international swimming program for girls and women in Afghanistan, for his relentless efforts to bring in benefactors to kickstart, enable and support his vision, for the myriad opportunities that will arise due to his efforts and encouragement including taking the first Afghan swimmers to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Sayed Ihsan Taheri is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

12. Ferry Weertman (Netherlands) 

Ferry Weertman defended his 2016 Olympic 10K Marathon Swimming gold medal with a dramatic, close victory at the 2017 FINA World Championships in Hungary. These back-to-back performances demonstrated the intensity and passion that the 25-year-old Dutchman has for swimming. He has both speed and stamina in abundance based on a massive amount of training mileage in the pool and open water. He not only has the drive to realize his athletic dreams, but he also has the personality to represent the sport in a responsible manner befitting modern-day heroes. With a giant target on his back, Weertman won the 10 km world championship by 0.1 seconds with another ferocious sprint to the finish. For his competitive spirit and composure under pressure in the highest levels of competition, for continuing to win despite swimming with a giant target on his back, for his genuinely engaging personality in casually addressing questions from the media and fans, Ferry Weertman is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

13. Philip Yorke (Great Britain)

Philip Yorke quietly and consistently plays a major role in continuing the key foundation that the British Long Distance Swimming Association has played in the sport for decades. As Honorable General Secretary of the esteemed organization, he carries on the traditions that have served the sport well. Additionally, he completed a 15 hour 52 minute crossing – all breaststroke – of the Catalina Channel while serving as the Championship Secretary for the Lynn Tegid (Bala) events. For his selfless dedication in maintaining the legitimacy and traditions of the sport, for working tirelessly as a volunteer to manage and set the direction of the British Long Distance Swimming Association, and for his record-setting breaststroke crossing of the Catalina Channel, Philip Yorke is a worthy nominee for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

Register and vote on the WOWSA Awards and the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year here.

Copyright © 2008-2017 by World Open Water Swimming Association