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Jaimie Monahan Honored By The Hall Of Fame

Photos courtesy of Phil White and Arik Thormahle in Lake Memphremagog, Vermont.

Courtesy of International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and WOWSA.

One of the most appreciated compliments received by any athlete is from one’s own peers. The Class of 2018 honorees in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame represent the largest group of individuals to be inducted in a single year over the institution’s history.

Each one of this year’s inductees are not only remarkable athletes who have completed incredible feats in the open water, but they are also exceptional humans who lead inspirational lives on dryland. Some have achieved greatness in competitive events, some in solo channel crossings, some in unprecedented marathon swims. While their greatest swims are publicly well-known, it is the relentless dedication and numerous hours they put in hard, solitary training year after year that enable them to complete their swims in lakes, river, seas and oceans around the world.

The honorees are selected annually by a vote of their peers who include Nick Adams, Tamara Bruce, Penny Dean, Yuko Matsuzaki, David O’Brien, Skip Storch, Valerio Valli, Forrest Nelson, David Barra, Dr. Osama Ahmed Momtaz, Michael P. Read, MBE, Peter Bales, Elizabeth Fry, Marcella MacDonald, DPM, Captain Tim Johnson, Vojislav Mijić, Ricardo Ratto, Dr. Jane Katz, Valerie Parsons, Lynn Blouin, Kathrin Lammers, Sally Minty-Gravett, MBE, Evan Morrison, Philip Rush, Dan Simonelli, Ben Barham, Penny Palfrey, Carol Sing, Natalya Pankina, Petar Stoychev, Silvia Dalotto, Stéphane Lecat, Kevin Murphy, Greg Streppel, Peter van Vooren, Jacques Tuset, Attila Mányoki, and John York.

The Class of 2018 includes the world’s most prolific and photographed open water swimmer Jaimie Monahan who plys her trade in water temperatures ranging from 0°C on up. She is one of the world’s most prolific marathon swimmers.

Among her many exploits, Monahan has traversed the 69 km (42 miles) of Lac Leman in Switzerland twice: in 32 hours 52 minutes in 2015 and then reversed the traditional route the following summer in an unprecedented swim of 28 hours 36 minutes. She recently did a 60 km (37 miles) cross-border swim across Lake Maggiore from Switzerland to Italy in 24 hours 2 minutes, the first recorded non-wetsuit crossing in the lake. She also completed a new route across Lake George in New York, 52 km (32 miles) in 21 hours 12 minutes in addition to previously completing the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming (English Channel + Catalina Channel + circumnavigation swim around Manhattan Island).

But once around Manhattan Island was not enough for her. This summer, she won and set a record for the double circumnavigation course around Manhattan in the inaugural 91.8 km (57-mile) New York Open Water‘s 40 Bridges Double Manhattan Island Swim in 20 hours 12 minutes.

Her other notable marathon swims include the 57.9 km (36-mile) END-WET in North Dakota, USA in 11 hours 56 minutes, 50 km (31 miles) across Lake Como in Italy in 20 hours 29 minutes, 40 km (25 miles) across Lac Memphrémagog from Vermont (USA) to Quebec (Canada), 36 km (22.5 miles) around Absecon Island in New Jersey, USA in 13 hours 59 minutes, 27 km (17 miles) in Lago d’Orta in Italy in 8 hours 38 minutes, and the 27 km (17-mile) Rose Pitonof Swim in New York a total of six times (6 hours 3 minutes in 2011, 5 hours 27 minutes in 2012, 5 hours 31 minutes in 2013, 5 hours 36 minutes in 2015, 5 hours 1 minutes in 2016, and 5 hours 2 minutes in 2017).

In addition to serving as the President of the Lake Geneva Swimming Association, she has volunteered as a race director, committee member, and observer in other swims – and perhaps most remarkably, she is the first person to complete the Ice Sevens, a solo non-neoprene Ice Mile swum in water below 5°C under International Ice Swimming Association rules on all 7 continents which must include a Polar Ice Mile and Zero Ice Mile.

Her Ice Sevens included the following Ice Miles:

1. Europe: on April 2nd 2016 in Reykjavík, Iceland in 3.7°C water (3°C wind chill + 5.6°C air) in 35 minutes 0 seconds in the sea with 12 km/hr wind speed
2. Asia: Ice Zero Mile on December 18th 2016 in Tyumen, Russia in -0.03°C water (-31°C wind chill + air) in 30:20 in an ice pool cut into a frozen lake
3. Africa: on February 13th 2017 in Aguelmame Sidi Ali Lake, Morocco in 4.9°C water (-0.5°C wind chill + 3°C air) in 32:18 in a mountain lake with 14 km/hr wind speed
4. Arctic Circle: on March 4th 2017 in Mikkelvik Brygge, Karlsøy, Norway in 2.37°C water (-3.5°C air) in 32:09 in the sea with 4 km/hr wind speed
5. North America: on March 9th 2017 at M Street Beach, Boston, USA in 4.63°C water (6.1°C wind chill + 9°C air) in 26:16 in the sea with 20 km/hr wind speed
6. Oceania: on 15 May 2017 in Tasman Lake, Aoraki Mt. Cook, New Zealand in 2.37°C water (14°C air) in 26:44 in a glacier lake
7. South America: on 2 July 2017 in Ushuaia, Argentina in 4.76°C water (5.9°C air) in 29:05 in the Beagle Channel

With her marathon swims, International Winter Swimming Association titles, and ice swims under arctic conditions piling up as fast as her airline miles, she was recently voted as the 2016 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year and received the 2016 Barra Award from the Marathon Swimmers Federation.

Her 4 km solo crossing of the Strait of Magellan in Chile in 1 hour 10 minutes and her numerous victories on the International Winter Swimming Association World Cup circuit are mixed up between her two 69 km solo crosses of Lake Geneva in Switzerland that took her 32 hours 52 minutes and 28 hours 36 minutes respectively.

She talks about her career to date:

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How does it feel to be inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame – even though you have plenty of swims left in your career?

Jaimie Monahan: It’s an incredible feeling – it’s an honor to be recognized for what I’ve accomplished already. I’m even more inspired and motivated to keep doing what I love in the years ahead.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What was the most satisfying swim of your career?

Jaimie Monahan: There are swims that invigorate the body, there are swims that delight the eyes, and there are swims that satisfy the soul. Swimming around my dazzling home island at night during New York Open Water’s 40 Bridges Around Manhattan Swim was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream and the intersection of all three.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: If there were a Hall of Fame for ice swimming, you would be in the inaugural class. But can you compare the difficulty of doing Ice Miles with marathon swims?

Jaimie Monahan: It’s tough to compare. I find marathon swims to be more complicated logistically (arranging boats, route, feeds, lights, sunscreen, etc.), but easier once I am in the water. Even for very long distances, I can set my mind free to enjoy the sights and sensations of the swim. With an ice mile, even after doing so many, the margin of error is much smaller so it’s important to be extremely focused at all times, constantly checking my own breathing, my skin color, my hands, etc. If anything feels wrong I am responsible for noticing and pulling myself out immediately. I enjoy the ice swims very much but they require much more mental energy during the swim itself.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Can you describe your typical weekly schedule, including your swimming workouts, your work schedule, travel schedule, and any dryland training that you do?

Jaimie Monahan: In my life, there isn’t really a typical week. I usually travel at least a couple of days each week for work during the week and/or at the weekends for swimming. It’s hard to keep to a schedule when I often have to be up at 4 am to catch a flight/train/bus or work into the night for dinners, events, and catching up on action items. When I’m home in New York City, I wake up around 6 am on weekday mornings to swim in the pool with my masters swimming team (McBurney YMCA) and swim outdoors around 10 am at the weekend with the Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers (CIBBOWS) year-round. I like to augment my swimming with High Intensity Interval Training classes, strength training, and vinyasa yoga at Equinox.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: You seem to transition from ice swims in the polar regions to marathon swims in a warm-water river and lakes so easily. How are you so versatile?

Jaimie Monahan: Warm or cold, long or short, it’s always just me and the water. It’s my liquid comfort zone, anywhere in the world.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: You do swims all over the world. How do you pick your escort crew members or seconds in ice swims since your swims are all over the world?

Jaimie Monahan: For pilots/guides, I prefer to research and find local experts with experience navigating the body of water I’d like to swim. For my personal crew, Arik Thormahle is always my top choice – we have our swim packing down to a science and he’s the only person I trust to apply my sunscreen for long swims. I love experiencing the world with him through swimming.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: You do/did swims that were unprecedented. Can you describe how these swims came into being?

Jaimie Monahan: Sometimes when I see a beautiful body of water, it catches my imagination and I find myself online later, looking at Google Maps, researching currents, flows, landmarks. From there it’s just a matter of finding the best dates, booking pilots, flights, accommodation, and staying in good condition.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What are your favorite foods and favorite drinks during your marathon swims?

Jaimie Monahan: I feed almost exclusively on water or ginger tea mixed with maltodextrin energy drink. My big treat when I want a little pick-me-up is an energy gel added to my drink, for the boost in calories and a hit of caffeine. I never eat solid food, even on long swims.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: You may do more open water swims than anyone else in the global community. Can you describe how you decide your schedule year after year?

Jaimie Monahan: It’s definitely an art, not a science. For a while I had a to-do list of swims, but once I’d accomplished those, I waited for something to call to me, to pique my interest. In 2014 it was the International Winter Swimming Association’s World Championships in Rovaniemi, Finland which introduced me to competitive cold water swimming. In 2015, it was the Lake Geneva Swim Association’s Signature 70 km swim, which rekindled my interest in marathon swimming. Since then I have often chosen a goal or theme for the year, such as swimming every event in the International Winter Swimming Association’s inaugural World Cup, or completing the International Ice Swimming Association’s Ice Sevens Challenge.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What kinds of things do you think about during your marathon swims?

Jaimie Monahan: Everything and anything. Work, songs, books, movies…people I love, people I dislike…things that motivate me, things I wish I’d said, questions I wish I could google the answers. I look at the crew and hope they’re comfortable. I think of friends in different time zones, who is awake with me through the night here, who is having a nice cup of coffee or glass of wine right now depending on where they are. I watch the clouds. I watch the sun rise and set. I watch the moon arch across the sky. I watch the stars twinkle, and welcome the sun when it lights up the sky again. I love to take in my surroundings, experience the full life cycle of a day from the water.

Jaimie is literally all over the globe. She literally knows no bounds and takes on any challenge in the open water,” said Steven Munatones. “She is relatively young and her rate of doing ice swims and marathon swims and channel swims and 24+ hour swims is incredible. Frankly, I do not know how she does it given her travel and work schedule. Her ability to recover quickly from her swims is remarkable. Whether she is coming out of a 24+ hour swim or out of 0°C ice water, she is always smiling, constantly serving as one of the world’s greatest open water swimming ambassadors.”

Jaimie and the other new members of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame emulate those exceptional 269 forerunners already enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Since the class of 1963, our marathon swimming inductees from around the world have received the ultimate marathon swimming recognition. They have been immortalized with their names inscribed on the IMSHOF Sea Goddess, our ‘symbol of the sea’,” explained Chairman Christopher Guesdon.

When Captain Matthew Webb RN conquered the English Channel in 1875 nobody would have thought such a worldwide movement of marathon swimming would be born and where ethics and morals are paramount in pursuit of a successful marathon. The induction ceremony will be held on March 31st 2018 at The Chapel, Beaumont Estate, Old Windsor, UK.”

Copyright © 2008-2017 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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