Every year, hundreds of thousands of individuals of every age, ability, background attempt and complete open water swims in every conceivable body of water around the world.
2009 was no different - none of which could be possible without the tremendous help of escort boat pilots, crews, kayakers, race organizers and volunteers.
You can vote on the World's Greatest Open Water Swims of 2009 in a poll here. Below are our choices with the full realization that the season (English Channel and Southern Hemisphere) is not yet over and many others have different opinions. Your comments and suggestions are greatly welcomed.
1. 120K Lake Taupo triple-crossing in January in New Zealand. Women's team (33 hours 33 minutes) included Julie Bradshaw/Lucy Roper (England), Michelle Macy (USA), Barbara Pellick/Penny Palfrey (Australia) and Heather Osborn (New Zealand). Men's team (33 hours 31 minutes) included Steve Junk/Chris Palfrey/Stephen Spence/Dougal Hunt (Australia) and Mark Cockroft (New Zealand).
Significance: Established longest continuous relay swim conducted under English Channel rules by all-star teams of 12 established marathon swimmers.
2. Ram Barkai and Andrew Chin's 2.2K winter swim in Lake Zurich in February in Switzerland.
Significance: No wetsuits in 39°F (4°C) water with 32°F (0°C) air temperature and 19°F (-7°C) wind chill.
3. Riaan Schoeman’s one-second victory over Chad Ho and 13 Olympians in South Africa's Midmar Mile in February.
Significance: Time was fastest among nearly 19,000 entrants in the world's most popular competitive open water race.
4. Penny Palfrey’s 14 hour and 51 minute 70K (43-mile) Alenuihaha Channel crossing from the Big Island of Hawaii to Maui in March.
Significance: first female crossing of the treacherous, shark-infested, very difficult channel in Hawaii.
5. Melissa Gorman’s 5K victory at the World Swimming Championships in July.
Significance: Exciting last-stroke upset victory over the most dominant professional marathon swimmer of the current era.
6. Angela Maurer’s 25K victory at the World Swimming Championships in July.
Significance: 35-year-old mother beats the world’s best professional marathon swimmers under tough conditions.
7. Tasmin Powell’s 11 hour 34 minute 70K Round Jersey circumnavigation in July.
Significance: 15-year-old home-grown swimmer from Jersey swims quickly while battling elements and seasickness.
8. Chantelle Le Guilcher’s 10 hour 37 minute 70K Round Jersey circumnavigation in July.
Significance: 15-year-old home-grown swimmer from Jersey swims quickly while battling elements.
9. Keri-Anne Payne’s 10K victory at the World Swimming Championships in July.
Significance: Led nearly the entire way against the toughest and fastest female field assembled in 2009.
10. Thomas Lurz’s double victory in the 5K and 10K races at the World Swimming Championships in July.
Significance: Two victories came back-to-back over a 2-day period against the world’s fastest men.
11. Petar Stoychev’s 6 hour 58 minute victory in the 32K Traversée Internationale du lac St-Jean in July.
Significance: 9th consecutive victory in the world's most famous professional marathon swim against the world's fastest marathon swimmers.
12. Valerio Cleri’s 25K victory at the World Swimming Championships in July.
Significance: Hard-fought comeback victory under tremendous pressure in his home country against world’s fastest marathon swimmers.
13. Rostislav Vitek’s crossing of the English Channel in 7 hours and 16 minutes in August.
Significance: Fastest English Channel crossing of 2009, fourth fastest solo single-crossing of all time.
14. Jade Scognamillo’s 19 hour 59 minute 52K crossing of Lake Ontario in August.
Significance: 15-year-old becomes the youngest person to ever swum Lake Ontario, Canada.
15. Kane Radford’s victory in the US$10,000 RCP Tiburon Mile in September.
Significance: Fast 1-mile swim against several Olympic gold medalists and world champions in a winner-take-all sprint in cold San Francisco Bay.
16. Andrew Smilley’s overall 107th placing among nearly 800 swimmers in the RCP Tiburon Mile in September.
Significance: Special Olympian from Cayman Islands placed 3rd in the 19-29 age in the non-wetsuit division in the San Francisco Bay in his first cold-water experience.
17. Camlough Team's Guinness World Record for the Longest Continuous Open Water Relay Swim of 685.5K (426.5 miles) in northern Ireland.
Significance: Preparation and logistics of organizing 220 swimmers to swim non-stop over 232 hours and 52 minutes (9 nights and 10 days).
18. Liz Fry’s 11 hour 41 minute reverse 48K circumnavigation of Manhattan Island in September.
Significance: Shattered the existing record of 17:48 which had only been done once before by a man (Kris Rutford in 1995).
19. Liane Llewellyn's 27 hour 35 minute double-crossing of the English Channel in August.
Significance: Resilience under extremely difficult conditions.
19. Lisa Cummins's 35 hour 31 minute double-crossing of the English Channel in September.
Significance: Amazing battle against time and elements in her first attempt in the English Channel.
20. Karen Rodgers' 10 hour 50 minute 21.5-mile crossing of Lake Tahoe in California in August.
Significance: Cold-water swim at 6,225 feet (1,897 meters) in altitude.
21. Patti Bauernfeind's 10 hour and 38 minute 21.5-mile crossing of Lake Tahoe in California in August.
Significance: Broke two-week-old record at 6,225 feet (1,897 meters) in altitude.
22. Julian Crabtree's 44-mile staged swim during the 4-part Great Swim series.
Significance: Started and finished every single heat of every 1-mile swim in 4 different lakes during the Great Swim series.
Copyright © 2009 by World Open Water Swimming Association