World Open Water Swimming Association Names 2020 WOWSA Award Winners

2020 WOWSA Award Winners, clockwise from top left, Bárbara Hernández Huerta, Nejib Belhedi, Kamil Resa and Oleg Dokuchaev; Photo Courtesy: WOWSA

The World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA) on Tuesday announced its 2020 WOWSA Awards.

The awards were bestowed in four categories: Man of the Year, Woman of the Year, Performance of the Year and Offering of the Year. In total, 59 nominees were presented from 27 countries. The winners were selected by a public vote of more than 71,000 votes cast online globally.

“Each of these 59 nominees is very special,” WOWSA founder Steven Munatones said in a statement. “We have old and young swimmers, coaches, pilots, ice swimmers, authors, filmmakers, and organizers who have all positively impacted the sport in their own creative ways during the COVID-19 year where the sport grew exponentially due to pool closures.”

The 2020 WOWSA Award winners are:

  • Man of the Year: Nejib Belhedi, Tunisia

Belhedi completed a 47-hour, 50-minute circumnavigation of 155 kilometers around Djerba Island in Tunisia in a televised event that has inspired millions across the Middle East and North African region. Belhedi, 68, is a former lieutenant colonel in the Tunisian Army.

  • Woman of the Year: Barbara Hernandez Huerta, Chile

Hernandez Huerta, 35, completed the 20 Bridges Swim around Manhattan Island to complete the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming. She also completed an unprecedented 7.5 km high-altitude swim across Chungara Lake (4,517 meters of altitude) in the Andes Mountains in 10 degree Celsius water.

  • Performance of the Year: Kamil Resa Alsaran, Turkey

The 59-year-old was the oldest swimmer to cross the tidal Bristol Channel. That allowed him to complete the rare Original Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming (North Channel, English Channel, Bristol Channel)

  • Offering of the Year: Oleg Dokuchaev, Russia

Dokuchaev leads Kosatka DV in eastern Russia, which trains people of all ages in extreme swims and open-water adventures. It also contributes to eco-marathon swim relays with a mission of supporting marine conservation.

The full list of nominees is available here.

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