Thanks to our Ocean Ambassadors who are helping to spread the word about the environment through sports and other activities in their daily lives that reach a wide range of the community. Their excellence in athletics or other personal achievements has made them leaders in their respective specialties, and we are honored to have them as Ocean Ambassadors who support our efforts to improve the health of the ocean.
Dominican ultra-distance swimmer in open waters, Marcos Diaz is the first and only swimmer that has united all five continents in the world by swimming.
Marcos was born in January 12, 1975 in Santo Domingo, as a child he was diagnosed with chronic asthma. At the age of 6 he began swimming advised by his doctors as a way to fight his condition. Destiny was outlined. Through this sport he discovered how to handle adversities and self-improvements. He found in open water swimming a way to combine his love for the sea and his passion for long lasting and endurance sports.
Pushing the limits of human capacity and taking his sports career to the highest level, Marcos is one of the few distance open water swimmers of the world that has successfully combined his presence in the most prestigious professional competitions of this sport on an international level with stunning solo crossings that would be unimaginable for many. To Swim a total of 22 hours nonstop when he executed two complete swims around Manhattan island in New York, or to crown himself as champion taking the first place in one of the longest competitions worldwide, river Bhagirathi in India with a total of 81 kilometers.
Inspiring in each one of his strokes, in 2010 he got the world to praise the motto "I swim with Marcos" to support the attainment of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. He unified the five continents of the world while fulfilling an extensive agenda of social work in which he touched the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people. This made him worthy of the Man of the Year Award from the World Open Water Swimming Association given during the Global Open Water Swimming Conference in 2011. Nominated for the prestigious prize Prince of Asturias of the Sports in Spain, he is also presently serving as a Good Will Ambassador for the Development Program of the United Nations (PNUD-RD). He is a Good Will Ambassador of the Dominican Republic for his outstanding sports career, his humanitarian role, and for being a worthy promoter of his country both inside and out of the sports area.
Four-Time Olympian, Gold Medalist and Tri-Sport Competitor
Sheila Taormina is an American Olympic Gold Medalist in the 4x200 meters freestyle relay from the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 2004 ITU Triathlon World Champion. Sheila is the smallest swimmer (159 cm) to win Olympic gold since 1920. She is also the only woman in the world to have competed in three different sports (swimming, triathlon and modern pentathlon) in four consecutive Olympics (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008). Now retired from competition, Sheila conducts swim clinics based around the propulsion theories in her book, Call The Suit, and is a motivational speaker for corporations, schools, and community organizations.
World Record Holder – Free Diving
William learnt to swim at the age of 18 months, and was freediving to 15m by the age of 8, however he did not begin serious training for the sport until 2003. In 2004 he became the first non-Italian instructor at Umberto Pelizzari's prestigious Apnea Academy. Since then he has trained extensively with Pelizzari, and written the translations of 'Manual of Freediving' (Idelson & Gnocchi) and the Apnea Academy Instructors Manual.
William holds the world record in the discipline of Unassisted Constant Weight (no fins), and can dive to over 100 meters (330 feet) without the use of fins, rope, weight, or any other form of assistance. In 2010 he also broke the world record in the discipline Free Immersion, with 116m (380 feet). He currently trains in Tenerife, at Tenerife Top Training Center during the summer and Dean's Blue Hole in the winter.
“As a freediver, the ocean is my playground and my church. Seeing it become gradually choked by plastic detritus is heart-wrenching and I couldn't stand by and let it happen. In the Bahamas, we try to collect plastic from the beaches, and try to educate the next generation that throwaway plastics are not acceptable, and 100% recycling is a moral responsibility. The ocean is the life blood of our planet, and as the planet's stewards we are responsible for keeping it clean." www.verticalblue.net
Marathon Swimmer and Ocean's Seven Aspirant
Jen began her journey in marathon swimming in 2009, when she crossed the 21-mile Catalina Channel in a time of 9:02, the fastest female time of the season. In 2010, she competed in the 28.5-mile Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, placing 7th overall and 4th woman. Jen has also swam the 17-mile channel between Kauai and Niihau in Hawaii, and completed a second Catalina Channel crossing in the opposite direction. Her next challenge is to become the first person in history to complete the Ocean's Seven, seven of the most challenging channel swims around the world.
Jen is passionate about raising awareness about the health of our oceans. During her training swims in the Pacific ocean, she regularly runs into and collects trash, most of it single-use plastics. This has motivated her to reduce her own plastic footprint and advocate for more sustainable ways of treating our environment.
To follow Jen on her Ocean's Seven journey, visit www.jenschumacher.org.
Stand Up Paddler and Ocean Lover
Kacie Wallace is an artist, attorney, mediator, athlete, educator and ocean-lover. She is a professor of law and supervising attorney at North Carolina Central University School of Law. She also teaches conflict management courses at Duke University and the Rotary Center for International Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution. Kacie serves as a consultant to film production companies, institutions of higher education and national sports teams on issues of conflict resolution and crisis intervention. She is a mediator for the United States Olympic Committee and recently served as the ombudsman at the 2011 Para PanAm Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Kacie’s passions for all things “ocean” are fulfilled through long distance open water swim and standup paddleboarding (SUP) competitions. She was a former state record holder and nationally ranked backstroker before she found the joys of the open water. Since, she has swum in international competitions around Bermuda, crossed channels in the Mediterranean and competed up and down the east and west coasts of the US. Currently, she is a member of the YOLO Board Race Team and competes in long distance standup paddleboard races, and will paddle in the 2012 World Championships of SUP from Molokai to Oahu. She uses her open water adventures as an opportunity to blur the lines of passion and competition, to see more of the world’s oceans and to raise awareness about their health and sustainability.
Hong Kong Olympic Swimmer, UC Berkeley
Hannah is a University of California Berkeley graduate and has been a swimmer for most of her life. Born and raised in Hong Kong; the ocean has always played an important role in her life. She swam for the Cal Women’s Swimming team from 2007-2011. As a senior in the 2010-2011 season, she helped lead the team to their second national team title in three years. Throughout her swimming career, Hannah has participated in the Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Olympic Games representingHong Kong. Currently, she is training for the London Games in 2012. A lot of her training and preparation for the London Olympics is in the ocean. It is such a powerful and natural resource that should be treasured and protected.
Born in Palo Alto, California, Chip has grown up with an active outdoor lifestyle. Chip found his true love in the ocean when he started windsurfing in 1981. After many years competing on the international windsurfing scene and completing liberal arts degree at UC Berkeley, he was always seeking the new emerging sports. In 1992, he started a multi-sport apparel company called UltraNectar, Inc. In 1997 Chip discovered the sport of kiteboarding and brought it from Hawaii to the Northern California coast where he helped to develop and popularize the sport, pioneering what are now the numerous kiteboarding locations on the West Coast. After many years competing on the international level, Chip was instrumental in developing kiteboard course racing, and almost winning the 2009 World Championships, but finishing in 2nd place. Chip is the 3- time Masters World Kiteracing Champion. Today course racing is a global pursuit, lending a metric to the sport that did not exist before. Kiteboard racing has a bid for the 2016 Olympics, and continues to be robustly popular. Chip is also one of only two people who has rounded the Farallon Islands, known for having one of the highest populations of great white sharks in the world. Chip also snowkites, and is highly involved in developing and popularizing this amazing contemporary sport.
The ocean, it's surrounding waterways, and their preservation are vitally important to Chip. "Most of the sports that I love have something to do with water, wind and the outdoors. The majority of the water we use as athletes ends up in the ocean and then that ocean affects many other aspects of our environment. This is why a clean ocean is imperative for the enjoyment of generations to come."
Outdoor industry entrepreneur and adventure race athlete
Ryan is one of Asia's outdoor industry pioneers -having consulted, managed projects, built companies and competed as an athlete throughout the region since 1998. He is Co-founder and a Director of a Group of leading outdoor companies (www.APA.co) involved with outdoor education, adventure sports development & management, corporate training/team building and film/video production.
Ryan was previously the founding Race and Managing Director (1998-2001) of Asia's first series of international adventure races (Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Philippines, Malaysia) and grew the events into partnership with National Geographic Channel with worldwide media distribution.
Currently, Ryan is one of Asia's top adventure racing athletes and Director of The North Face-sponsored Champion System Adventure team.
Ryan has won many of the region's top adventure races –including Action Asia Challenge several times – and has captained his team on many occasions to top 10 finishes in the Worlds leading stage adventure race, Redbull Wu Long Mountain Quest.
The oceans and waterways of Asia have had a huge role in Ryan's life personally and professionally as both an amazing playground for water sports, as well as, a core activity venue used in the outdoor education side of his businesses. Ryan hopes that by inspiring youth, executives, and recreational athletes with the beauty and enjoyment of what we can do in Earth's natural environment we can raise awareness in its value and promote ways to protect the environment we share with so many other species.
Anna Mathisen – OC1 Paddler and Ocean Lover - Kailua,Oahu.
Anna has spent a lifetime in and on the water, starting on a swim team at age four, and competing at US nationals at 18. For the past 9 years she has applied swim conditioning, technique and discipline to Outrigger Canoe Paddling. Anna has just completed her 4th season of OC1 racing in Hawaii. Each year her goal was to race all of the coastal races on Oahu, and all the major channel crossings between Maui, Molokai, and Oahu. During the January - May 2012 season alone, Anna competed in 12 OC1 races totaling over 230 miles of racing - Goal Completed.
She also loves to take part in open water swimming events. The North Shore Race series and Waikiki Rough Water swim are some of her favorites inHawaiiand Big Wave challenge and ‘The Clean Half’ in Hong Kong.
As an ambassador for Ocean Recovery Alliance it is Anna’s goal to ‘use less now’ and challenges herself to race and train single use plastic free. She talks constantly with other competitors and race organizers about reducing plastic at the consumer source. By bringing attention to the choices made on a daily basis and how avoiding single use plastic products can reduce the plastic in the ocean Anna feels the individual impact will add up to make a difference.
Anna’s upcoming goals include expanding her focus into other ocean disciplines, such as surf ski, stand up paddling and paddle board - all with Ocean Recovery Alliance logo boldly displayed on her equipment.