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Joseph Zemaitis

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Joe Zemaitis competing in the S.C.A.R. Swim Challenge in Arizona
Joe Zemaitis and John Zemaitis crossing Loch Ness in Scotland under the escort of Captain Ryan Tozer

Joe Zemaitis is a 41-year-old American open water swimmer and coach from Scottsdale, Arizona.

Open Water Swimming Highlights

Foundation for Aquatic Safety and Training

Zemaitis founded the Foundation for Aquatic Safety and Training (FAST) that was inspired by Braxton Bilbrey, a 7-year-old boy, who became the youngest person to swim from Alcatraz Island to the San Francisco shoreline. Motivated by Braxton’s story, over 50 swimmers ages 8 to 18 made that same 1.4 mile stretch of frigid open-water swim the following year. These competitive swimmers became the first FAST ambassadors of water safety, reaching out to the next generation of young people with the message of water safety and drowning prevention.

2020 WOWSA Awards

Joe and John Zemaitis were nominated for the 2020 WOWSA Awards in the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year with the following nomination: Joe Zemaitis and John Zemaitis could not be more similar and more alike. In a year like no other, the two brothers from Arizona took to the seas, rivers and lakes from coast to coast during their off times. And swim they did, in warm and cold, tranquil and turbulent. Older brother Joe and younger brother John bring two totally different approaches to the sport: one is intense and diligent, the other is laidback and swims whenever. They both smile broadly and laugh frequently; they both enjoy adventures and love travel. They set a goal when both their work schedules allow and did 644 km worth of tandem swims in 2020. For their swims across Monterey Bay, Lake Tahoe, Santa Barbara Channel, twice around Manhattan Island, for Joe's 112 km solo Roosevelt Lake swim in 47 hours 23 minutes, and for the boundless joy and goodwill and appreciation they have for others and the sport, brothers Joe and John Zemaitis of the USA are worthy nominees for the 2020 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.


Coaching Career

  • He started Swim Neptune, a competitive swim team at the Village Health Clubs in Scottsdale and Phoenix. It has grown to over 600 competitive and pre-competitive swimmers. Swim Neptune has won the Arizona Swimming Age Group State Championship eight times since 2010.
  • He has coached dozens of swimmers who have gone on to compete at the collegiate and national level.
  • In 2006, Zemaitis coached 7-year-old Braxton Bilbrey to become the youngest to swim from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco.
  • He launched the Swim FAST program, now entering its 12th year, to train over 500 swimmers (age 8 to 75) to swim from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco one day and across the Golden Gate Bridge the next.

Open Water Swimming Career

English Channel Crossing

External links