James Pittar

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James Pittar was inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honour Swimmer in 2009. The swimmer from Sydney, Australia become the first blind swimmer to complete the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming. He is also one of the leading swimmers in the Oceans Seven challenge. He swims on behalf of the Fred Hollows Foundation and works for the Rainbow Club Foundation which teaches disabled kids how to swim. He is also a member of the Rottnest Channel Swim Honour Board.



Claire Daniel wrote a book, Swimming the Continents, about Pittar's aquatic exploits in the oceans, rivers and lakes around the world. He was also the subject of the documentary, Swimming with Skyscrapers.


Pittar suffers from a genetic disorder called Retinitis Pigmentosa, which causes a degeneration of the retina. This disease was diagnosed when he was 16 after he suffered from rapidly decreasing vision. He was legally blind by 21 and completely blind by his early 30s.

Swimming Career

Pittar has successfully swum the English Channel, Catalina Channel and Manhattan Island Marathon Swim.

He also completed 21K swim in Phuket, Thailand, an 11K swim in Anzac Cove, Turkey, a 25K swim in the Vaal River in South Africa, a 60K swim down the Parana River in Argentina, a swim across the Cook Strait in New Zealand, a 19K swim across the Rottnest Channel in Australia and a successful two-way crossing of the Strait of Gibraltar.

2012 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year Nomination

Pittar's Shelley Beach Swim was nominated for the 2012 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year award. His World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year nomination reads,

What you believe, you can achieve. Your dreams are deep within you; you feel it in your heart, you visualize it in your mind. James Pittar cannot see but he certainly envisions his marathon swimming goals – and all the good that comes from his sims. The International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer suffers from impaired vision, but that has not slowed him in dreaming and achieving all kinds of successes in the open water. His 12 km Shelley Beach Swim was another achievement in his impressively prolific body of work in the water and on land. Many swimmers have their favorite charities but Pittar's lack of vision makes his charity swims on behalf of The Fred Hollows Foundation especially fitting. For his ability to envision and execute success, for his stature as a role model for visually impaired athletes, for his ability to help raise funds, James Pittar's Shelley Beach Swim is a worthy nominee for the 2012 WOWSA Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.


Bering Strait Swim

Pittar was also a member of the successful, unprecedented, 5-day Bering Strait Swim relay, a 53-mile (86 km) relay crossing from Cape Dezhnev in Chukotka, Russia, to Cape Prince of Wales in the state of Alaska, USA.

1. Yuri Tsiganchuk, Blagoveshchensk, Russia
2. Yuri Myagkikh, Russia
3. Vladimir Chegorin, Russia
4. Maria Chizhova, Novosibirsk, Russia
5. Elena Guseva, Russia
6. Ram Barkai, Cape Town, South Africa
7. Jack Bright, UK
8. Vladimir Litvinov, Blagoveshchensk, Russia
9. Oksana Veklich, Blagoveshchensk, Russia
10. Aleksandr Jakovlev, Jelgava, Latvia
11. Matías Ola, Buenos Aires /Tucuman Argentina
12. Henri Kaarma, Tallinn, Estonia
13. Toomas Haggi, Tallinn, Estonia
14. Nuala Moore, Ireland
15. Anne Marie Ward, Donegal, Ireland
16. Toks Viviers, Cape Town, South Africa
17. Melissa O’Reilly (‘Mo’), Lambertville, New Jersey, USA
18. Ryan Stramrood, Cape Town, South Africa
19. Cristian Vergara, Santiago, Chile
20. Craig Lenning, Colorado, USA
21. Rafał Ziobro, Krakow, Poland
22. Andrew Chin, Cape Town, South Africa
23. Jackie Cobell, Tunbridge Wells, UK
24. James Pittar, Australia
25. Paolo Chiarino, Italy

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