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International Masters Swimming Hall Of Fame Ceremonies August 4, Palo Alto, California

IMSHOF Class of 2006:  Left to right:  Drury Gallagher, William Specht, Yoshihiko Osaki, Nancy Hunt Weiman, Lavelle Stoinoff, Rita Simonton and Dal Stauffer.
FT. LAUDERDALE— On Friday, August 4th, The International Swimming Hall of Fame inducted nine (9) athletes into the International Master Swimming Hall of Fame in Palo Alto, California, in conjunction with the XI FINA World Masters Aquatic Championships.  Master of the ceremonies were Debbie Meyer, the first swimmer to win three individual Olympic Gold medals at one Olympic Games and the 1968 Sullivan Award winner.

The International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame is maintained within the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  The purpose of the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame is to recognize masters swimmers for their achievements as outstanding competitors and contributors to Masters swimming with a goal of inspiring every adult to live an active and healthy lifestyle by swimming.

The International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame class of 2006 includes: Drury Gallagher (USA) Honor Swimmer, Yoshihiko Osaki (JPN) Honor Contributor, Katherine Pelton* (USA) Honor Swimmer, Walter Pfeiffer (USA) Honor Swimmer, Rita Simonton (USA) Honor Swimmer, William Specht (USA) Honor Swimmer, Dr. Floyd Stauffer (USA) Honor Swimmer, Lavelle Stoinoff (USA) Honor Swimmer, Nancy Hunt Weiman (USA) Honor Synchronized Swimmer.

At age 35, Drury Gallagher jumped back into the pool as a Masters swimmer after a 15-year absence from high school and college swimming.  He is considered one of the most versatile swimmers in International Masters swimming, breaking World Records in events as varied as the 50 meter breaststroke and 1500 meter freestyle.  Since 1975, he has competed in 6 age groups (35-39 thru 60-64) and has recorded 27 FINA MASTERS WORLD RECORDS.

Yoshihiko Osaki has played a significant role in Japanese swimming ever since his days as a swimmer at Waseda University in the late 1950s. Born in 1939, he swam during his high school years and was trained by the great Yoshiyuki Tsuruta, 1928 and 1932 Olympic gold medalist (200m breaststroke). In 1960 he won the silver medal in the 200m breaststroke at the Olympic Games, finishing behind Bill Mulliken (USA. In 1984, he became the director of Japan Masters Swimming Association establishing the basic format of Masters Swimming in Japan. In 1992, he was elected president and under his leadership, Masters Swimming has grown to over 40,000 members and has become one of the most well managed organizations in the world. In 1985, as meet director, he initiated the great success of the first World Masters Swimming Championships in Tokyo.  In one of the more touching moments of the evening, Bill Mulliken presented Mr. Osaki with his induction plaque. 

Katherine Pelton competed in four age groups until her death in the early 1990’s. From 1986 to 1992, she set 34 FINA Masters Word Records in four different age groups (70- 74 thru 85-89). 

Walter Pfeiffer learned to swim at four years of age and went on to swim in college.  He returned to competitive swimming at the age of 55 and has competed in seven age groups (55-59 thru 85-89) and has set 31 FINA Masters World Records.

Rita Simonton learned to swim in the 1920’s.  After raising her children she was reintroduced to swimming through a masters program in Long Beach California. Rita has been swimming for over 30 years in Masters swimming, competing in seven age groups (50-54 thru 80 – 84).  Mainly a freestyle swimmer, she has accumulated 35 FINA Masters World Records (all in free except 4 each in breast and I.M.). 

Since first joining a YMCA program as a youngster,William Specht has been involved in competitive swimming his entire life.  After graduating from Princeton he moved to New York, where he joined the New York Athletic Club, eventually moving into masters competition in 1988, He has competed in four age groups since joining the masters program (30 – 34 thru 45 – 49). Specht has held world rankings in backstroke, butterfly and freestyle events and has held 12 FINA Masters world records.

Dr. Floyd “Dal” Stauffer began diving Masters in 1975 in the 50-55 age group and continued for 26 years. He traveled to more than 15 countries competing and promoting Masters diving. In nine FINA Masters World Championships competitions, starting in the 65-69 age group, he won 6 gold, 3 silver medals in 1 meter, 7 gold, 2 silver medals in 3 meter and 7 gold, 2 silver medals in the 10 meter. He competed against strong competition, as a doctor provided medical advice at competitions, created the Masters Diving Decathlon, sponsored divers from other countries to attend meets and has been an exemplary sportsman in venues all over the world. 

Lavelle Stoinoff Lavelle tried out for the 1952 Olympic swimming team, retired from swimming, went to college and raised a family.  At 39, seeing her daughter swim, she decided to jump back in, joining a Masters Swimming tem in 1977.  She set her first FINA Masters World Record in 1983 and has set a total of 36 since, many in distance freestyle events. She has competed in 6 age groups: (40-44 thru 65-69). 

From its U.S. inception in 1975 Nancy has competed every U.S. Masters National Championship but six, for a total of 25 competitions. She won gold medals in 21 solo competitions and silver medals in the other 4 competitions. In 9 Masters World Championship competitions, she has won the solo gold medal seven times and the figure gold five times. She competes and wins in all of the figures, solo, duet and team events. In 1975, when no established rules existed for Masters Synchronized, she helped develop and write rules that were accepted into the U.S. AAU Synchronized Swimming rulebook. She has been a Synchronized Swimming judge for over 25 years.

The dinner and induction ceremony was attended by over 250 people. Family and friends of the inductees, as well as many aquatic athletes who were in Palo Alto to compete at the World Championships enjoyed a spectacular evening showcasing some of the World’s greatest masters swimmers, divers and synchronized swimmers.

For additional information, call Meg Keller at (954) 474-7010 at the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
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