Some countries are going bonkers over open water swimming. Great Britain, New Zealand and South Africa are three countries that immediately come to mine. Countries like Italy, the Czech Republic and Australia are also continuing on an upward trajectory. But action is really heating up in the Americas where the Cayman Islands, Mexico and Brazil will be making great strides in 2010 to capture the excitement of open water swimming along its coastlines.
Today, we'll highlight some of the activities in Brazil.
After the selection of Rio de Janeiro as the site of the 2016 Olympics, the Brazilian Swimming Federation is currently preparing its plans and budgets for 2010-2016 and beyond. This kind of long-term planning and vision towards the future will be instrumental in establishing a solid foundation for the sport.
Poliana Okimoto, the FINA 10KM Marathon Swimming World Cup champion for 2009 and the current leading vote-getter for the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year Award, was nominated for the Best Athlete of the Year ceremonies that will be broadcast live on Prêmio Brasil Olímpico on December, 21. The voting is done by sports authorities such federation officials and journalists and then opened up to the public in online voting. Poliana is competing against Natalia Falavignia from taekwando and Sarah Menezes from judo - an interesting observation on how combative sports (taekwando, judo and competitive open water swimming) in a country that loves soccer.
Based on the recently completed Brazilian Marathon Swimming Championships, which were won by Olympians Allan Do Carmo (shown above) and Ana Marcela Cunha, Brazil has a strong group of young and hungry up-and-coming swimmers who are stretching Brazil's three Olympic 10K marathon swimmers (Poliana, Allan and Ana Marcela) to their limits.
Brazil will also send its best swimmers to Uruguay for the I Beach South American Games that will include a 5K race on December 11th and a 10K race on December 13th. Then, the 2010 FINA 10KM Marathon Swimming World Cup will kick off in Santos, Brazil on January 31st where FINA will also conduct a clinic for open water swimming officials.
But besides the focus and media attention on the Brazil's elite swimmers, there dozens of races along the coast that attract thousands of swimmers of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. These competitors are the new backbone and foundation of the sport in Brazil.
Photos of Allan Do Carmo from the 2007 Pan American Games by Donald Miralle of Getty Images.