As I sit down to write this, it is difficult to fully express how I feel. I am extremely grateful for the amazing support that has been shown to me during this year’s WOWSA awards. I thank each and every one of you for this recognition. I am beyond inspired, feel truly blessed and am very proud to be named World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.
I would first like to congratulate all the nominees in each of the WOWSA categories, as well as the hundreds of others that were equally deserving of nominations. I am proud to be in the company of so many people who embody the true spirit and diversity of open water swimming. I would also like to thank the World Open Water Swimming Association for honoring these amazing people and promoting this great sport.
I do not believe there are winners or losers when it comes to awards like these. I see these awards as a Celebration of Open Water Swimming. This is a time to honor the achievements and the many directions in the open water swimming world, a world that is increasing in popularity and diversity. I am proud to be a small part of this incredible community.
When I was notified in November of my nomination, I felt tremendously honored. To be included with a group of people that I consider true visionaries, superior athletes, and leaders in the sport was surprising and exciting. To be named with individuals such as Petar Stoychev (Bulgaria), who is considered to be one of the greatest professional open water swimmers in my lifetime and who has dominated the open water swimming world for close to a decade, to Doug Woodring (USA, currently living in Hong Kong), founder of Ocean Recovery Alliance which focuses on bringing innovative remedies, technologies and policies to improve the health of our oceans, and all those included in this celebration of open water swimming has been a privilege in itself. The accomplishments of all the swimmers in each category are incredible - from Forrest Nelson (Performance) to Penny Palfrey (Woman) who each completed two of the most amazing swims in 2011. We are not just talking about swimmers - these people are heroes, heroines and role models who I have cheered for and followed along with in their own pursuits. I hope that you too see the greatness in all of the nominees, and that you congratulate each of them as you have congratulated me. These awards embrace the diversity and passion of open water swimming. It’s not about being the fastest or the first. It’s not about records set. It is about the love and respect we all have for open water swimming.
There is one thing that I can and will compare myself to in these truly remarkable people: my passion for what I do. I thank you all for seeing that, since I do things a little differently than most. I am an Adventure Swimmer. I choose to test myself mentally, physically, and spiritually by swimming extreme distances. I create, design, plan and execute swims based on how I want to accomplish them.
Many of my extreme swims are done wearing a wetsuit. My latest 111 mile swim down the Sacramento River was my greatest adventure yet. This 31 hour non-stop journey pushed me beyond what I had done before and has inspired me to go to the next level. To quote Dane Rauschenberg (ultrarunner) ”I know what I can do – I do not know yet what I cannot do.” I will continue to push myself to find this place, and once I find it, I will work to get past it. I do not hold any records except for those on a personal level. I will continue to test myself and live life as much as I can at water level. I strive to go beyond what I have done before and enjoy every aspect of it. I swim for the pure adventure of it. I thank you all for realizing and supporting me on this quest. I thank you for following me. It is a huge part of what gives me my inspiration.
I must also say thank you again to my crew who guides me through these adventures. Our motto is to Have Fun, Be Safe, and Live the Adventure. I love each and every one of you. There is no way I could do these things without you. I thank you for believing in what we do and for sharing these life changing experiences with me. You mean the world to me. I also want to thank two other people, without whom I would not be doing these crazy things. My beautiful wife, Terry, who still after 11 years is trying to figure out why I am drawn in some of the directions I am, but has never left my side. She is with me every stroke I take. I love her and cherish her willingness to embrace my passion. And to my six year old daughter, Hadley, who I hope one day will see that her dad does these things to become a better father. Seeing her at the finish of all my swims is what helps me push on. I am truly blessed. I am also very fortunate to be associated with some amazing companies, whose support I also could not do without. Finis - the greatest swimwear and equipment company on the planet. Endless Pools – a product every open water swimmer should have. Fox Sports/Yardbarker - your unwavering support and friendship is beyond imaginable. Sailfish - a wetsuit like no other. E21, Yurbuds, Patrick & Co., Metabender, Brian Hayes Photography, Kinesys, The Secret Drink Mix, Cornish & Carey, Colton Commercial and Homerun. I thank all of you for understanding what I do and supporting me in my swimming endeavors.
I thank everyone who voted in this year’s WOWSA awards, even if it was not for me. It’s truly wonderful to see so many people interested in open water swimming. I hope most of all that this inspires you to do something great for yourself in 2012. I would love for it to be something in the water, but whatever it is - Do Something Beyond What You Thought Possible. Create your own adventure. Plan it, dream about it, prepare for it and then live it. I will continue to do things that seem out of reach and live my adventures. I will push myself, have fun, and embrace others on their quest, however they choose to pursue it. Along the way I will protect, promote and cherish our oceans, lakes and rivers.
I will continue with the Adventure Swim Contest to help those live their swim dreams. As a dear friend says “Dream it....Swim it” – K.R. With help from others, we will strive to grow this contest to aid people in their quests in the water. It shall support marathon swimmers, adventure swimmers, triathletes, first time open water swimmers, and all those who want to live their adventure in the oceans, lakes, and rivers.
Through this journey, you have all made me a better person. I have shed more than one tear in thankfulness for your support. I am honored beyond words. I hope that you continue to follow my adventures, create some of your own and support others as they dream big. As the 2011 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Peace is always found in the Water!!!