swimmers portraits

Andrew Gemmell and his anonymity get along swimmingly

Andrew Gemmell doesn’t mind his anonymity.

In fact, he likes it.

He is a world-class athlete walking the University of Georgia campus.

But Gemmell doesn’t stand out.

He qualified for the 2012 Olympics as a college sophomore. He was part of the U.S. swimming team that won 31 medals, including 16 golds, at the Summer Games in London. He finished ninth among the world’s best swimmers in the 1,500-meter event.

“I don’t really look like an Olympic athlete,” Gemmell said. “I’m 6-foot-nothing and 160 pounds. You don’t get into swimming for the attention.”

David Barra featured in USMS Swimmer Magazine

Suzanne Sataline wrote an article for USMS Swimmer Magazine that is about David Barra

Heroes of swimming: Abdel Latif Abu Heif

Heroes of swimming: Abdel Latif Abu Heif

This Egyptian battleship tore through open-water marathon swimming with ease, finesse and generosity

Heroes of swimming would like to issue an apology. Some weeks ago, we described Johnny Weissmuller as the greatest swimmer ever. We may have misled you, and if we did, we're sorry.Who, though, is Johnny's rival for Heroes of swimming's affections? An Egyptian swimmer called Abdel Latif Abu Heif: a legend not of the pool, but of the open water. If you haven't heard of him, you're not alone. Outside his native country – where streets and children were named after him, and he was feted wherever he went – Abu Heif's name is familiar only to a small circle of open-water marathon-racing fans.

Even in his prime, Abu Heif was no one's idea of what a swimming champion looks like. He was 5ft 10in and broad-shouldered, but far from the chiselled physique most of us associate with elite swimmers. In fact, not to put too fine a point on it, at something around 95kg (15st) Abu Heif was a bit pudgy. His nickname was "Crocodile of the Nile", but the unkind might have said hippo was more appropriate. Even one of his fans once said that Abu Heif's emblem would have been: "A big set of beautiful white teeth in a friendly grin, and a picture of a huge stomach."

2013 Open Water Swimmer of the Year Swammy Award Goes To Thomas Lurz

With all the Swammy awards being handed out to pool swimmers, it’s time to take a shift towards those who compete in open water competitions. 2013 has had some great open water competition with fast results at the World Championships, the FINA World Cup series, and the European Open Water Swimming Cup Tour.

The Picture ...

by Karen Throsby

It was hard this summer not to have seen the furore surrounding Diana Nyad's 5th and final attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida - a venture that concluded with her walking triumphantly up the beach in Florida 50+ hours after jumping into the beautiful blue Cuban waters. A festival of interviews and publicity followed, and shortly on its tail, increasingly insistent questioning from the marathon swimming community, led by members of the Marathon Swimmers Forum. Several of these members went on to pose those questions in the international media and in an oddly-staged online 'meeting' in an effort to compel Nyad and her team to address a series of doubts - most specifically those relating to the rules under which the swim was conducted, an apparent claim to a 7 hour nighttime stretch without feeding, an unusually swift pace for several hours mid-swim and the absence of the kinds of systematic documentation that are conventionally seen as legitimising marathon swims. Others, and particularly MSF founders Evan Morrison and Donal Buckley  have written very eloquently, including from the media frontline, about these campaigns and counter-campaigns and at some personal cost in terms of exposure to venomous and anonymous online hate mail. Nyad is something of a lightening rod for both sides of the aisle, and the public discussion of these things can provoke weirdness in ways that are, in themselves, quite intriguing for a sociologist like myself in this polarised world of heroes and villains

73 in 93

By Scott Zornig

Gaviota Pier – our first pier

This summer, we started a very unusual swim or rather, set of swims. A few swimming friends decided to swim around every ocean based pier in the State of California skipping only the 35+ piers in San Francisco Bay. We started on August 17th and finished our pier safari on November 17th. Although it was never our intent to become the “first” or see how fast we could accomplish the feat, we swam around 73 piers in 93 days. 

In total, Lynn Kubasek, Ray Medtvelt and I subjugated 73 piers….logging 35 miles of swimming, 50 miles of walking, 90 hours of driving, 20 hours of boating and 30 solid hours of shivering (Ray actually stopped after reaching his goal of 60 piers). We swam in water as cold as 47 degrees in Northern California and as warm as 72 degrees in the Southern portion of the state. Although this endeavor could never be classified as a marathon or channel swim, we elected to follow English Channel rules and swim without any artificial warming devices. In other words, we did not use wetsuits.

Odsal swimmer Dee Llewellyn wins awards for English Channel success

 A Bradford woman has been awarded three trophies for breaking world records in swimming the English Channel as part of a relay team.

Long-distance swimmer Dee Llewellyn and her five team mates were presented with the awards by the Channel Swimming Association at a ceremony in Dover.

The all-female team swam from Dover to Calais and back again in 18 hours and 13 minutes, which broke the British record by 54 minutes and shaved nine minutes off the world record.

Too little too late Diana -2

a forum member on marathonswimmers.org wrote concerning a Wall Street Journal article:

Ms. Nyad again does a masterful job of manipulation.

Ms. Nyad framed the issue of her swim as only the use of the stinger suit – completely ignoring the bigger issues of how she was able to swim three times her normal speed for extended periods of time and that no publically available information supports her magical current claim. Never mentions that there are photos of her receiving buoyancy support and being touched. No explanation at all regarding her lack of credible Observers.

Too little too late Diana

Sharon Terlep from Wall Street Journal writes about Diana Nyad's regrets regarding the remarks she made in the past about Walter Poenisch.

I think it's Too little too late.

In the past DN publicly depicted Poenisch as a cheater. She knows how to use the media for her own benefits. If she was man enough she would have made her statements this time also very public on the Oprah show or at those news shows she used after her own swim.

Niek Kloots

Endurance swimmer becomes first man to swim from Land’s End to John O’Groats

11 November 2013 Sean Conway left Cornwall on June 30, swimming the 874 miles to John O’Groats along the west coast of Britain...

An adventurer has made history by completing a marathon swim from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

Sean Conway, 32, left Cornwall on June 30, swimming along the west coast to the most northerly point of the UK mainland.

Every year thousands of people attempt to walk, cycle or run the journey between Land’s End and John O’Groats, a distance of 874 miles (1,407km) by road.

He completed the final mile of his journey by sea today, making him the first person to swim the length of the UK.