Phil White nominated for WOWSA Man of the Year

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Phil White photographs swimmers at the 2012 Aquafest parade on Newport’s Main Street.   Photo by Joseph Gresser
Phil White photographs swimmers at the 2012 Aquafest parade on Newport’s Main Street. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle November 5, 2014

by Aaron Dentel-Post

Phil White, former IROC director who now runs Kingdom Games, is one of 12 people worldwide who have been nominated for the World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA) Man of the Year.

He’s among marathon swimming world champions with nicknames like “Ocean Walker” and the 73-year-old English Channel swimmer Otto Thaning, who is from South Africa.

Other nominees are from Great Britain, France, Estonia, Macedonia, and the Netherlands and have an impressive collection of accomplishments.

Mr. White has been nominated for outstanding organizer.

The WOWSA awards are meant to “honor the individuals who best embody the spirit of open water swimming, possess the sense of adventure, tenacity and perseverance that open water swimmers are known for, and have most positively influenced the world of open water swimming during the year,” the WOWSA website says.

“Wherever these individuals ultimately finish in the WOWSA Awards, they are all wonderful role models of the sport, representing the epitome of everything that is cool, right and good about open water swimming.”

Along with 40 days of competition in swimming, bicycling and running, Kingdom Games will hold the first ever U.S. Winter Swimming Championships in February on Lake Memphremagog.

“There’s little chance I’ll be selected,” Mr. White said Monday. “But it certainly shows swimming has come of age in the Northeast Kingdom, and that’s what I’m excited about.”

Kingdom Games has attracted athletes and volunteers from 36 states and eight countries, and Mr. White said about half of the participants return to the events after initially participating. They often plan more extensive trips the second time around.

He said accomplished swimmers praise Northeast Kingdom lakes like Lake Memphremagog.

“A world class swimmer who’s crossed the channel several times…came out of the water and said, this is the most beautiful swim of my life,” Mr. White said.

He said the nomination will help him promote events as Kingdom Games continues to grow. Most recently he has added a series of races on lakes that supposedly have monsters. They include Loch Ness, with the Loch Ness Monster, Lake Tahoe with Tahoe Tessie, and Memphremagog with Memphre.

The winner will be announced January 1.

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