World Open Water Swimming Association Celebrates the 2023 WOWSA Awards Winners

Industry: Sports

WOWSA's annual awards spotlight the extraordinary swimmers, events and contributions to open water swimming's growing global community.

San Francisco, CA (PRUnderground) February 8th, 2024

In an inspiring celebration of courage, endurance, and community, the World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA) honored the remarkable achievements within the global open water swimming community at the 2023 WOWSA Awards. Recognizing outstanding contributions across six categories, the awards spotlighted individuals and innovations that have significantly impacted the sport over the past year.

From a diverse pool of 212 nominees, the WOWSA Voting Academy and Advisory Board, comprising 122 esteemed members of the open water swimming community, selected the top 10 nominees in each category. These nominees represented the pinnacle of achievement in open water swimming, embodying excellence in sportsmanship, innovation, and safety.

Over 3,000 public votes were cast highlighting the community’s active participation in celebrating the contributions of open water swimmers who have made a significant impact on the sport.

Highlighting the Winners

WOWSA Man of the Year

1st Place (Gold): Andy Donaldson (Scotland) – A groundbreaking swimmer who completed the Oceans Seven challenge in one year, setting a world record for the Cook Strait swim.

2nd Place (Silver): Florian Wellbrock (Germany) – Made history at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships by winning both the 5km and 10km open water events.

3rd Place (Bronze): Steve Stievenart (France) – Achieved a historic three-way crossing of the Catalina Channel, marking a world first.

WOWSA Woman of the Year

1st Place (Gold): Dina Levačić (Croatia) – The youngest woman and first from Croatia to complete the Oceans Seven and the Original Triple Crown, setting a new female record for Fastnet.

2nd Place (Silver): Sarah Thomas (USA) – A breast cancer survivor who swam the entire length of Lake Mead, the largest man-made reservoir in the United States.

3rd Place (Bronze): Leonie Beck (Germany) – Won gold in both the 5k and 10k events at the World Aquatics Championships and won the overall World Cup title.

Performance of the Year

1st Place (Gold): Andrew Donaldson (Scotland) – Not only the Man of the Year but also celebrated for his specific performance in setting a world record for the Oceans Seven and the Cook Strait swim.

2nd Place (Silver): Andreas Waschburger (Germany) – Recognized for setting a world record by crossing the English Channel in 6 hours, 45 minutes, and 25 seconds.

3rd Place (Bronze): Steve Stievenart (France) – Celebrated for his unprecedented three-way Catalina Channel swim.

Adaptive Performance of the Year

1st Place (Gold): Jonty Warneken (United Kingdom) – The first para swimmer to swim the North Channel solo in 2023.

2nd Place (Silver): Sophie Etheridge (United Kingdom) – Completed the longest ever solo English Channel swim using only her arms, supporting disability swimming.

3rd Place (Bronze): Patricia Heffernan (Ireland) – A deaf swimmer who completed four marathon swims and won an age group bronze at the IISA 5th World Championship.

Event of the Year

1st Place (Gold): HITtheWall (Ireland) – A comprehensive four-day endurance training covering all aspects of open water swimming organized by infinity Channel Swimming.

2nd Place (Silver): Kingdom Swim (USA) – A celebration of open water swimming held on Lake Memphremagog in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.

3rd Place (Bronze): Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli (Italy) – A prestigious 36 km marathon swim from Capri to Naples, attracting swimmers worldwide since 1954.

Product or Service of the Year

1st Place (Gold): Cork Distance Week (Ireland) – A marathon swimming camp providing high mileage and psychological stress training.

2nd Place (Silver): SwimTrek (United Kingdom) – Offers guided open water swimming holidays in over 50 global locations.

3rd Place (Bronze): Swim Secure® (United Kingdom) – Provides safety equipment for open water swimmers, supporting drowning prevention efforts.

Awards and Recognition

This year’s awards package for Man and Woman of the Year features an entry to the UltraSwim 33.3 #3 Croatia, an epic adventure swim race, alongside a GoPro HERO12 Black Waterproof Camera for capturing their aquatic exploits. Additionally, winners will receive a dryrobe® Advance Long Sleeve changing robe, a comprehensive bundle of Nike Swim products including suits, caps, goggles, and towels, and the Sharkbanz 2, an innovative shark deterrent designed for open water swimmers and a $100 Gift Certificate to the JOLYN website, offering high-performance swimwear to further enhance their swimming experience.

“The WOWSA Awards are a celebration of the open water swimming community worldwide,” said Quinn Fitzgerald, WOWSA CEO. “Every winner and nominee represents members of our community who push the boundaries of what is possible and inspire others to do the same.”

For more information and photos please visit our website

About The World Open Water Swimming Association

World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA) supports a global community of open water swimmers committed to safety, sportsmanship, and adventure. Our platform serves as a go-to resource for swimmers and coaches seeking events, community and education.

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