Anne Marie Ward

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Anne Marie Ward at United Nations, photo courtesy of Skip Storch
Anne Marie Ward
Anne Marie Ward
Anne Marie Ward
Chart of the Round Ireland Swim, a stage swim around Ireland
Round Ireland relay with Anne Marie Ward Ryan Ward, Tom Watters, Ian Claxton and Nuala Moore
Round Ireland relay with Anne Marie Ward, Ryan Ward, Tom Watters, Ian Claxton and Nuala Moore

Anne Marie Ward is an ice swimmer, channel swimmer, marathon swimmer and open water swimmer from North West Donegal, Ireland. She swims regularly in the most northerly waters in Ireland with temperatures dipping as low as 5°C in the winter and hovering about 14°C in summer. Ward swam in the sea as a child and most recently was honoured by her global peers at the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year. She was also a member of the unprecedented Round Ireland Swim and did an ice swim on New Year's Day 2012 as well as the Bering Strait Swim in 2013.

In 2002 at the age of 35, with the stress of her job, Ward returned to swimming in the sea. She does not have any conventional coaching or pool work. Anne Marie developed an amazing endurance swimming ability and this unquestioning and natural ability to withstand conditions has brought her to supreme heights in endurance swimming. She is happier in the open ocean.


Ice Swimming

She was also part of the successful, unprecedented 5-day Bering Strait Swim Relay that crossed 86 km from Russia to Alaska in August 2013. She also did a 500m swim in 0.3°C water temperatures and air temperatures between -30°C and -33°C in Tyumen, Siberia, Russia at the Russian Winter Swimming Championships.

She also competed in the 450m endurance swim at the 2014 Winter Swimming Championships in Finland.

Life Philosophy

"It was very tough, but at no stage did I feel I was going to quit," Anne Marie said after big crowds at Magherarorty pier cheered her home. (Tory Island to Magheroarty 2003). This is a quote after an 8 hour 15 minute swim which should have been 6 hour, her longest swim before this was 2 hours and her fourth major swim - proof that she was gearing up for greatness.

Her First Swims

In the first year she started training for a 2-mile sea swim. The tides around North Donegal are very strong and can be hostile, but Ward showed immense comfort in the rough conditions. She is the first person to swim from Gola Island, off the west coast of Donegal, to Kincasslagh Pier, five miles away.

The first woman to swim the two-and-a-half miles from Arranmore Island to Burtonport.

Distance did not seem to be phasing her and as she and her team took on more challenging swims her comfort in extreme conditions was becoming apparent.

In 2003 Ward had hoped to complete the grueling 10 miles between Tory Island and Magheroarty in 6 hours hours, but had to contend with torrential rain, a thunderstorm, fork lightening and strong currents before finally making it ashore after a staggering 8 hours 15 minutes, non-stop swim, she did this in a wet suit on advice as it was her first long immersion. She was her one and only time wearing a wetsuit.

"It was very tough, but at no stage did I feel I was going to quit," Ward said, after big crowds at Magherarorty pier cheered her home.

Round Ireland Swim

2006 Round Ireland swim relay, a 830-mile circumnavigation around Ireland, the longest marathon staged relay in the world.

English Channel Swim

Her 2007 English Channel swim resulted in her receiving the Pierre van Varan Award for the best swim in arduous conditions as she finished the swim in a force 5/6.

Ward's North Channel journey was a three-year project. It was all about getting there. Since 2005, Ward has been surrounded by an amazing crew of divers and boatmen all who took on her swims as personal projects.

As each of the swimmers were withdrawn her crew were adamant that she was capable of driving forward and despite horrendous conditions Anne Marie finished in 20 hours 15 minutes.

North Channel Swim

The North Channel is one of the toughest channel swims in the world. Only 8 people in history had achieved this swim and few on their first crossing, this in mind Ward was willing to give it a go.

2008 North Channel Attempt

Water temperature at 12°C, starting at 3 am in the darkness, 17.5 hours swimming from Ireland to Scotland (North Channel) and taken out as the tides were pushing her backwards again.

Ward approached the North Channel like she approached every swim with the acceptance that she would go as far as she could or as far as her team would push her. She was very much aware that there was a lot to learn and after swimming for 17.5 hours it was the tides that got her, she was not weak inside. She was more disappointed that her crew had been let down.

2009 North Channel Attempt

2.5 hours into swimming North Channel when the weather turned and wind drove her up onto the Copeland islands at 3 am, her pilot boat was separated from her and finally she was rescued by her rib after spending time on her own behind the rocks as the waves hid her from her crew.

2010 North Channel Attempt

August: Ward tried once again to take on the North Channel, but trying to find a slot free of jellyfish was impossible so she dropped in anyway. This time with her own crew - they struggled to find a place to drop her into the water the water was filled with jellyfish. She swam for 5 hours solid until her joints seized up, she was unable to move her arms and legs and asked to be taken out. The toxins from the stings has seeped into her system and she was hospitalised in Belfast City Hospital. Despite the pain, her crew felt that they had got everything right with the exception of the jellyfish. They sat down and decided to try yet again.

September 2nd: 4 weeks later, Ward dropped in again and this time after 18 hours 59 minutes in 12°C, Ward reached Port Patrick in Scotland and became the first Irish woman and the 11th swimmer in history to swim this treacherous channel. The longest immersion by any swimmer in the freezing North Channel waters. The strength needed to drive deep knowing the pain that is involved is the true measure of an open water swimmer.

World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year

In November 2010, Ward was selected and after a 2-month online poll conducted by the World Open Water Swimming Association, Ward was awarded the title of [[World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year].

In June 2011, at the United Nations, Ward was honoured and gave a wonderful speech, bringing the swimming world into the world of an open water swimmer who trains by feel instead of program and coach.

Anne Marie Ward At The United Nations


Bering Strait Swim

Ward will also be a member of the Bering Strait Swim, a 6-day, 53-mile (86 km) relay swim attempt from Cape Dezhnev in Chukotka, Russia, to Cape Prince of Wales in the state of Alaska, USA among a team of experienced extreme swimmers.

World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year

The Bering Strait Swim was selected as the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year in a global vote managed by the World Open Water Swimming Association.

Relay Members in Bering Strait Swim

1. Vladimir Chegorin, Russia
2. Maria Chizhova, Novosibirsk, Russia
3. Elena Guseva, Russia
4. Ram Barkai, Cape Town, South Africa
5. Jack Bright, UK
6. Oksana Veklich, Blagoveshchensk, Russia
7. Aleksandr Jakovlevs, Jelgava, Latvia (Starter, Swimmer, Navigator)
8. Matías Ola, Buenos Aires /Tucuman, Argentina
9. Henri Kaarma, Tallinn, Estonia
10. Toomas Haggi, Tallinn, Estonia
11. Nuala Moore, Ireland
12. Anne Marie Ward, Donegal, Ireland
13. Toks Viviers, Cape Town, South Africa
14. Melissa O’Reilly (‘Mo’), Lambertville, New Jersey, USA
15. Ryan Stramrood, Cape Town, South Africa
16. Cristian Vergara, Santiago, Chile
17. Craig Lenning, Colorado, USA
18. Rafał Ziobro, Krakow, Poland
19. Andrew Chin, Cape Town, South Africa
20. Jackie Cobell, Tunbridge Wells, UK
21. James Pittar, Australia
22. Paolo Chiarino, Italy
23. Mariia Yrjö-Koskinen, Finland
24. Ivan Papulshenko, Ukraine
25. Zdenek Tlamicha, Czech Republic
26. Zhou Hanming, China
27. Oleg Adamov, Russia
28. Andrei Agarkov, Russia
29. Alekseev Semen, Russia
30. Tatiana Alexandrova, Russia
31. Roman Belan, Russia (Swimmer and Starter)
32. Elena Semenova, Russia
33. Alexander Brylin, Russia
34. Afanasii Diackovskii, Russia
35. Vladimir Nefatov, Russia (Swimmer and Chief Starter)
36. Evgenii Dokuchaev, Russia
37. Oleg Docuckaev, Russia (Swimmer and Chief Organiser)
38. Roman Efimov, Russia
39. Dmitrii Filitovich, Russia
40. Olga Filitovich, Russia (Swimmer and Starter/helper)
41. Victor Godlevskiy, Russia (Swimmer and Starter/helper)
42. Olga Golubeva, Russia
43. Alexei Golubkin, Russia
44. Alexander Golubkin, Russia (Youngest Swimmer at 13 years old)
45. Alexsandr Iurkov, Russia (Starter, Swimmer, Navigator)
46. Oleg Ivanov, Russia
47. Pavel Kabakov, Russia (Swimmer, starter, navigator)
48. Eduard Khodakovskiy, Russia
49. Aleksandr Komarov, Russia
50. Aleksandr Kuliapin, Russia
51. Andrey Kuzmin, Russia
52. Irina Lamkina, Russia
53. Vladimir Litvinov, Russia
54. Andrey Mikhalev, Russia
55. Victor Moskvin, Russia
56. Nikolay Petshak, Russia
57. Sergey Popov, Russia
58. Vladimir Poshivailov, Russia
59. Grigorii Prokopchuk, Russia
60. Dmitrii Zalka, Russia
61. Natalia Seraya, Russia
62. Viacheslav Shaposhnikov, Russia
63. Olga Sokolova, Russia
64. Andrei Sychev, Russia
65. Alexei Tabakov, Russia
66. Nataliia Usachaeva, Russia
67. Nikolay Khitrik, Russia (Organiser)
68. Lurii Melnikov, Russia (Organiser)
69. Sergei Chernukhin, Russia (Organiser)
70. Irina Makarova, Russia (Interpreter, Starter, helper)
71. Alexey Svistunov, Russia (President of Russian Book of Records)
72. Rafael Valdes Mendosa, Russian (Interpreter, Starter)
73. Evgeny Novazheev, Russia (Kite surfer)
74. Denis Berezhnoy, Russia (Kite surfer)
75. Sergey Semenov, Russia (kite surfer)
76. Mariia Netrebenko, Russia (mass media representative)
77. Viktor Muzhetckii, Russia (cameraman)
78. Vladislav Bochkovskii, Russia (mass media representative)
79. Vladislav Bykov, Russia (cameraman)
80. Dmitrii Timofeev, Russia (research team)
81. Victoria Brylin, Russia (recovery team)
82. Nataliya Fatyanova, Russia (Head of medical group)
83. Irina Zhidkova, Russia (doctor)
84. Aleksandr Gremitskikh, Russia (Chief Judge)
85. Krutikov Konstantin, Russia (mass media representative)
86. Gavriil Ugarov, Russia (research crew)
87. Denis Kabakov, Russia (support crew)
88. Kiriil Zaika, Russia (support crew)
89. Natalia Yael Szydlowski, Argentina (nutritionist)
90. Paolo Adolfo Testa, Argentina (coach)
91. Carlos Eduardo Reges, Argentina (doctor)
92. Anibal Ariel Calderon, Argentina (cameraman)
93. Guillermo Gallishaw, Argentina (cameraman)
94. Alasdair Ross McCulloch, South Africa (cameraman)
95. Yason Demeev, Russia (Chief of Hospital)
96. Oleg Revutskiy, Russia (surgeon)
97. Vyacheslav Grigoryev, Russia (traumatologist)
98. Valeriy Koshkin, Russia (dermatologist)
99. Svetlana Gulenkova, Russia (stomatologist)
100. Inna Lesnova, Russia (therapeutist)
101. Vladimir Savinskiy, Russia (doctor of functional diagnostics)
102. Sergey Demyanenko, Russia (Doctor of Clinical Laboratory Diagnostics)
103. Sergey Milovanov, Russia (anesthesiologist)
104. Denis Yakushin, Russia (anesthesiologist)
105. Georgiy Feodoridi, Russia (neurosurgeon)
106. Igor Rogushin, Russia (opthamologist)
107. Yuriy Obraztsov, Russia (infectionist)
108. Oleg Fartushin, Russia (radiologist)
109. Elena Ionova, Russia (pharmacist)
110. Larisa Popova, Russia (nurse)
111. Svetlana Demenok, Russia (nurse)
112. Galina Domnina, Russia (nurse)
113. Tatyana Bolshakova, Russia (nurse)
114. Svetlana Panidova, Russia (nurse)
115. Maya Surgayeva, Russia (nurse)
116. Ludmila Denisova, Russia (nurse)
117. Valentina Shilova, Russia (nurse)
118. Elena Repula, Russia (nurse)
119. Elena Kukurba, Russia (nurse)
120. Elena Sadovaya, Russia (nurse)
121. Tatyana Nikolaeva, Russia (nurse)

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