The West Cork-based Redmond, who earlier this year became the first person to complete the gruelling Oceans 7 challenge, is now heading the poll to be crowned the World Open Water Swimming Association’s (WOWSA) man of the year.
He is up against 14 other nominees, including some of the biggest and best-funded names in the elite sport, as well as Olympic athletes.
However, thanks to an online campaign organised by open water swimmer Ossi Schmidt, who runs Brookfield Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic in Cork, he has secured almost 30% of the public vote — putting him just 80 votes ahead of his nearest competitor, 16-year-old Benjamin Schulte, from Guam, who competed in the London Olympics.
“There isn’t anybody who has done what he’s done. He deserves this award,” said Mr Schmidt.
Other nominees include the so-called Limbless Waterman, Craig Dietz, who was born without arms or legs and who swam 5km at the Swim Across America event on the west coast, and 4.4 miles at the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim on the East Coast earlier this year; and Ram Barkai, the “Mindful Ice Man”, who pioneers ice swimming.
Steve was nominated for the bravery and determination he showed to completed the Tsugaru Channel swim in Japan earlier this year in 12 hours 45 minutes — the final swim in the Oceans 7 challenge. He conquered it on his fourth attempt.
The WOWSA citation said depression was never more evident in a swimmer after his third failed attempt.
“The broad shoulders of the Irish icon drooped like tree branches heavily laden with snow,” it reads. “But he was not prepared to return home with a fourth failure. As the weather broke on his last day in Japan, his faith was severely tested, but he was never without hope.
“His love of the challenge and his luck on the final day was what he needed to complete the Tsugaru Channel.
“For his commitment to the cause, for his deeply held faith, for his humility in the face of fame and courage in face of angry seas, Stephen Redmond’s four attempts at the Tsugaru Channel are collectively a worthy nominee for ... the award.”
He is also nominated for performance of the year.
The awards honour those who best embody the spirit of open water swimming.
It aims to recognise their sense of adventure, tenacity, and perseverance, and honour someone who has most positively influenced the world of open water swimming during the year.
The voting closes on Dec 31 with the winners due to be announced the following day.
* Vote for Steve on the website worldopenwaterswimmingassociation.com.