Irving Davids/Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award
Conceived and donated by the New England Marathon Swimming Association in honor of
Irving Davids and Captain Roger W. Wheeler
The Irving Davids/Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award is presented annually by International Swimming Hall of Fame to the organization or individual who has contributed the most to the administration of open water swimming.
This year’s award recognizes Elizabeth Fry, an open water swimming
administrator from Connecticut, USA who has served the sport for more than
30 years. She has also been the marathon director for 13 years of the 25 km
St. Vincent’s Foundation Swim Across the (Long Island) Sound which raises
more than $2 million EACH YEAR. Prior to her leadership in 2007 the event
raised approximately $40,000 annually. Liz created a detailed safety plan that
allows the event to host up to 65 escort boats and created separate team and
two-person relay categories to expand fund raising and provide open water
local swimmers. Donations to the event have grown to over $2 million each
year to help cancer patients and their families. In 2008, Liz expanded the fund
raising to include multiple sclerosis (MS) with an event named the “January
Jam”. This event encourages participants from around the world to track their
yardage for the entire month to see who can “jam” the most yards into 31
Elizabeth is an accomplished marathon swimmer: Oceans Seven; set the
record for the oldest person to do a two-way English Channel crossing; and
other firsts including two-way Ederle Swim, 35-mile swim from Manhattan to
Sandy Hook, New Jersey and two-way S.C.A.R. She was inducted into the
International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Swimmer in
This year’s award recognizes Colin Hill, an open water swimming administrator from Great Britain
who has served the sport for more than 15 years. He has contributed via a wide range of roles and
assisted at many events across the world. Colin’s swimming organization roles included: Technical
Manager for 2012 London Olympics and 2018 European Open Water Swimming Championships;
FINA Open Water Swimming Consultant (2013 to present) and Correspondent plus created the Great
Swim Series (for the Great Run Company), Swim Serpentine (with London Marathon), Chillswim
(2012 – 2018) and currently Ullswater Swim Place.
He assisted at marathon swimming events as FINA’s OWS Consultant in the following countries:
Argentina, Canada, China, Dubai, England, Hungary, North Macedonia, Portugal, Qatar, Seychelles
Selected examples help illustrate the range of Colin’s contribution:
Technical Manager for 2012 London Olympics – the second Olympics for the open water marathon
held in the Serpentine, in the middle of a London Park, showcased the sport of open water marathon
swimming to a new generation.
Founder of the Great Swim – tens of thousands of swimmers got their first taste of open water
competition in these 1-mile swims and spawned a generation of new marathon swimmers. This
provided a massive publicity boost for the sport.
Colin has assisted thousands of long-distance swimmers to complete swims in the English Lake
Colin is an accomplished marathon swimmer: English Channel in 10 hours and 30 minutes, winner 25
km Madeira and the first man from Great Britain to complete an ice mile. His understanding of the
swimmers and experience as an organizer and administrator was key toward Colin’s leadership in
the success and expansion of marathon swimming in the world.
The Irving Davids/Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award
is presented annually by International Swimming Hall of Fame to the organization or individual who
has contributed the most to the administration of open water swimming.
This year’s award honors Sid Cassidy. As a swimmer Sid achieved a 4th place world ranking in 1979
as professional marathon swimmer and was part of a record setting English Channel double crossing
relay in 1991.
As an administrator, Sid has been a leader of the sport since 1982 when first named to USA
Swimming Open Water Committee. Over nearly four decades, he has been National Team Coach;
USA Swimming Administrator; FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee (TOWSC) member;
Swimming Safety Task Force member; Olympic official, race announcer, race director, and strong
advocate of the sport. Cassidy has done nearly everything there is to do in the sport.
He is also part of the team with Chris Guesdon and Dennis Miller credited with developing the
strategy to have a marathon swimming event included in the Olympic Games which happened in
The Award will be presented to Sue, on Saturday evening, during the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies, on March 9th in Melbourne Australia. The Irving Davids/Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award is presented annually by International Swimming Hall of Fame to the organization or individual who has contributed the most to the administration of open water swimming.
This year’s award honors Sue Guesdon, an open water swimming administrator from Australia who has served the sport for more than 50 years. She has contributed in a wide range of roles and assisted at many events across the world. Sue’s roles included: Race Director, Organiser, Coach Handler, Administrator, Team Official, Lecturer, Judge, Health & Fitness Advisor, Licensed Boat Captain, Writer and Open Water Official.
Over this half century she assisted at marathon swimming events in the following countries: Australia, Canada, Cook Islands, Fiji, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Papua New Guinea, United Kingdom and USA. Selected examples help illustrate the range of Sue’s contribution:
Official – 40km Port Philip Bay Big Swim 1968; Coach handler – English Channel 1970, 1975 and 1977; Escort handler – Hong Kong Repulse Bay Marathon October 1977; Australian Team coach handler- silver medal- Capri Napoli World Championship 1975; Official Clerk of Course & Judge Fiji Open Water Championships 2001; FINA OWS Certificate – Technical Officials Clinic Cook Islands 2007 and Clerk of Course/Official South East Asian Games OWS event 2009.
Her ability in so many aspects of the sport gives her an understanding of the athletes and officials and was paramount in her success as a technical official lecturer and teacher and was a driving force toward the positioning and development of marathon swimming in the world.
Stéphane Lecat (FRA)
As an IMSHOF Honor Swimmer, Stéphane won 3 FINA World Cup Series, 3 Traversée Internationale du lac St-Jean, 4 Rio Corondo, 3 Traversée Internationale du Lac Memphrémagog swim, 25 km European Championship, 10 times French Champion and an Around-the-Island Marathon Swim in Atlantic City plus a very fast English Channel in 8 hours 19 minutes. Stéphane has dedicated his career to teaching and coaching and is now the National Team Open Water Program Director for the French Swimming Federation. His work yielded an impressive set of 2016 results at all levels of international competition: Olympic Games in Rio, 1 Bronze medal 10 km men; European Seniors Championships Open Water in Hoorn, 2 Gold medals and 2 Bronze medals; World Juniors Championships Open Water in Hoorn, 1 Gold medal, 1 Silver medal and 1 Bronze medal; European Juniors Championships in Piombino, 2 Gold medals and COMEN, 2 Gold medals, 2 Silver medals and 1 Bronze medal – First Team.
Le Prix “Irving Davids/Captain Roger W. Wheeler” est décerné chaque année par IMSHOF à une organisation ou une personne pour son exceptionnelle contribution en tant qu’administrateur de la natation en eau libre. Cette année le prix honore Stéphane Lecat. Déjà intronisé en tant que nageur, Stéphane a remporté à trois reprises le classement général de la Coupe du Monde FINA. Il a également remporté 3 traversées internationales du Lac Saint-Jean, 4 marathon aquatiques Rio Corondo, et 3 traversées internationales du Lac Memphremagog, ainsi qu’un championnat d’Europe (25 km) ; à ajouter à ce palmarès : 10 titres de champion de France, et le marathon du Tour-de-l’Ile à Atlantic City. Stéphane a également à son crédit une très rapide traversée de la Manche en 8 heures et 19 minutes. Stéphane a consacré sa carrière à la formation et à l’entrainement et est à présent Directeur des équipes nationales de natation en eau libre pour la Fédération Française de Natation. Son travail au sein de l’équipe de France de natation a été récompensé par d’ impressionnants résultats : en 2016, l’équipe de France a remporté des médailles à tous les niveaux de compétition internationale. Le décompte des médailles est le suivant : médaille de bronze (10 km – hommes) aux Jeux Olympiques de Rio ; 2 médailles d’or et 2 de bronze aux Championnats d’Europe (eau libre) Seniors de Hoorn (Hollande) ainsi qu’ une médaille d’or, une médaille d’argent et une de bronze aux Championnats du Monde (eau libre) Juniors, également à Hoorn ; 2 médailles d’or, 2 d’argent et 2 de bronze aux Championnats d’Europe Juniors de Piombino en Italie – où la France s’est classée première au classement des nations.
Richard Broer played a major role in developing open water swimming for the last twenty years, including the role as Chairperson of the Technical Open Water Committee of Royal Netherlands Swimming Association.
He is responsible for the yearly open water publication with all (association) events, an extensive brochure on the ins and outs of open waters swimming nationally. Richard brought the sport from the Netherlands to the internet in 1998 with www.noww.nl, which further promotes events and the sport in general.
One indicator of the success of open water (including marathon) swimming in the Netherlands are the double Dutch marathon winners in Rio.
His other internet initiative www.openwaterswimming.eu is a website for the European area. It concentrates on the event calendar for Europe. It is a proven instrument in attracting vacationing swimmers to swims in their holiday destination.
Broer has coached 20 IJsselmeer relays and a solo winner and his seven English Channel relay teams have completed a 100% record including two world records.
Richard also continue to be an accomplished swimmer. He set a 1978 record in the Netherlands national competition and swam 1500m in under 16 minutes. Recent he completed several solo marathons including Gibraltar Straits, Flanders Marathon twice and the IJsselmeer three times.
He received The Irving Davids/Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award 2017 for his contributions to the administration of open water swimming.
Continuing with the renowned Yudovin energy, David instituted blueprints to create a viable non-profit foundation and a modern, robust infrastructure— including a newly branded website. His vision and practical determination to complete any goal he set has served all IMSHOF members and the global open water swimming community. Today the IMSHOF has a new breath of life. The current Executive Committee is working diligently to advance David’s vision and master plan for the 21st Century.
In the year 2015, David Yudovin accepted the charter as IMSHOF Chairman to transform the entire operating model of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, starting with the ISHOF executive agreement to adopt the IMSHOF as part of its Organization.
Continuing with the renowned Yudovin energy, David instituted blueprints to create a viable non-profit foundation and a modern, robust infrastructure— including a newly branded website. His vision and practical determination to complete any goal he set has served all IMSHOF members and the global open water swimming community. Today the IMSHOF has a new breath of life. The current Executive Committee is working diligently to advance David’s vision and master plan for the 21st Century.
Dennis Miller (FJI)
Credited as one of the three people who formulated and pushed forward the current Guesdon model, now the current racing format used at the Olympic 10km Marathon Swim, together with Chris Guesdon and Sid Cassidy.
There isn’t anyone in the world who has attended more world class FINA open water swimming competitions than Miller.
Dennis is currently a FINA V.P. and TOWSC Liaison, and the Executive Director of the Oceania National Olympic Committee based out of Suva, Fiji.
He was a member of the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee from 1997 to 2009. As FINA Bureau liaison to the TOWSC since 2009, he has been responsible for the delivery of the 2010 FINA Open Water World Swimming Championships in Roberval, Canada, the Open Water Swimming events at the FINA World Swimming Championships in Shanghai, China (2011 ), Barcelona, Spain (2013) and Kazan Russia (2015). Since the inclusion of the 10k Marathon Swimming Events in the Olympic Games, he oversaw delivery of these events at the 2008 Games in Beijing and the 2012 Games in London, and is involved in the planning and delivery of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games events off Copacabana Beach.
For more of his long list of achievements, please visit www.openwaterpedia.com
Melissa Cunningham (AUS)
As a swimmer, commentator, administrator, official, lecturer and teacher at world elite level in marathon swimming, these manifold specialties describe Melissa Cunningham’s involvement in marathon swimming.
Melissa is an Australian Open Water Swimmer who was inducted as an Honour Swimmer in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in its Class of 2013 for her outstanding career. She was the world champion in the 25 km race at the 1994 FINA World Swimming Championships in Rome, Italy, and the 1996 FINA World Championships.
She followed up her two world championship appearances with a variety of work as an open water swimming commentator, administrator, official, lecturer, coach, teacher and inspirational force. Whether she wore goggles or sunglasses, her skill set shows incredible versatility and humility. Cheerful and competitive, supportive and smiling, Cunningham’s career was centered around her sharing her passion for the sport of open water swimming with others.
In addition to her two-time FINA World Championships, FINA World Cup medals and Pan Pacific Championship medals, Cunningham was also a member of the Malta-to-Sicily International Relay Race where her relay swam a total of 93 km from St. Julians Bay in Malta to Marina di Modica in Italy in 1996 in 19 hours 11 minutes together with Shelley Taylor-Smith, Joe Mitchell and Grant Robinson as part of the Australian National Swim Team. She was the Australian Open Water Swimmer of the Year in 1994 and 1996 in addition to winning multiple Australian Open Water Swimming Championships. She also set a Guinness World Record for a 24-hour swim when she swam 93,000 meters which broke the existing record by 10,900 meters.
She also served as an announcer and administrator at the first Olympic 10 km Marathon Swim in Beijing as part of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and was a member of the FINA Athletes Commission and FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee. She conducted Technical Official Training and Swimming Workshops from 2006 to 2008 and was the chairperson of the Singapore Swimming Open Water Swimming Committee.
Melissa is also an ambassador for the McGrath Foundation where she is utilizing her passion and skills in the water to help others via the program, Every Stroke Counts. Her efforts during 2013 were nominated for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year.
She was also the International Chief Commentator and Media Advisor for marathon swimming at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the 2007 FINA World Championships in Melbourne, Australia, and the Asian Beach Games in Bali, Indonesia.
She is a nationally accredited Open Water Swimming referee in Australia, an organizer and technical director and meet director from 2006 to 2008, and was a member of the Swimming Victoria Open Water Swimming Committee and Competition Committee as well as a national swim squad coach and Learn-to-Swim teacher in both Singapore and Australia.
The Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award is an award presented by the International Swimming Hall of Fame. It was established in 1970 by the New England Marathon Swimming Association to honor and recognize the contribution of individuals and groups making major contributions to Marathon Swimming and to serve as a perpetual memorial to Irving Davids and Captain Roger Wheeler.
In addition to his coaching, administration and leadership in open water swimming, Ned Denison remains an extraordinarily accomplished marathon swimmer. He is the kind of person that you want on your boat at night. He is the friend you want standing onshore. He is the administrator who makes things happen while making everyone else around feel special. He combines the best traits and skills of a drill sergeant, an orchestra conductor, and your best college buddy. Marathon swimming is fortunate to have him.
As an administrator, he recruited hundreds of swimmers to become successful marathon swimmers. He started and led the marathon craze in Cork, Ireland, with many swimmers and relays annually booked for English Channel crossings. He started the 16k Cork to Cobh swim as well as the Cork distance and Irish Champion of Champions Swim in 2009 with fifty attendees. Ned is Chairman of Ireland’s first National Open Water Committee and author of the most current website materials. In 2010, Ireland placed two swimmers in the European Open Water Champiopnships for the first time. He assembled a mailing list and email list of over 3000 swimmers in Ireland to promote open water events. In 2006, he organized 94 Irish swimmers to travel to the Alcatraz Swim in California, the largest international group to participate in the swim. He has delivered more than fifteen marathon swimming seminars across Ireland and helped to sign up seventeen solo English Channel aspirants in 2010. He started and has managed the Irish Marathon Group with 163 swimmers.
Denison is also a very good open water swimmer and has competed marathon swims of 25k or longer including: the English Channel (35k), around Manhattan Island Swim (47k), False Bay South Africa (34k, home of the great white sharks), Catalina Channel (34k), Santa Barbara Channel (31k), around the Island of Jersey (54k), Lake Zurich (26k) and around the islands of Great Island and Valentia Island, both 26k and temperatures of 54° F. Other notable swims include: Rottnest (20k), Cork to Cobh (Ireland), Inishbofin Island Ireland (13k), Lake Champlain New York (13k), Blackrock to Cobh Ireland, around Robin Island (11k), Cape Point South Africa (8k), Rathin Island Northern Ireland (11k) and three Champion of Champions Swims of approximately 5k distances. He also participated in three Alcatraz swims, each of 3k distance.
Denison has motivated, educated, organized and assisted thousands of swimmers from California (USA) to Cork (IRE) in a sport that he passionately serves with compassion, experience and a relentless drive. He is a mountain of a man who not only is a high-achieving marathon swimmer in his own right, but a gem of the open water world who is also giving a great deal back to the sport by helping others achieve their dreams.
Drury Gallagher is a visionary who restarted the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, one of the world’s most iconic marathon swims. Due to his hard work in the 1980’s and early ‘90’s, New York City is now a dynamic hotbed of marathon swimming, world renowned for its Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. He founded the Manhattan Island Swimming Association that will be his legacy as a memorial to his son, Drury, Jr. who died in a tragic accident in 1981. He is a founding member of the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association in California and the Kingdom Swim in Vermont, and is on the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim Committee.
Drury and his seven brothers and sisters were raised in the beach front community of Rockaway Beach, which is on the western end of Long Island. His parents made sure that they all learned to swim at an early age. Their teacher was a legend in the swimming world, sometimes referred to as Father Neptune, Joseph A Ruddy. Joe was a 1904 Olympian and is an Honor Swimmer and Water Polo Member of ISHOF. He taught a generation of youngsters to swim in the 1940’s and ’50’s. Joe also taught the art of riding waves and body-surfing as well as a love for the sport of swimming.
As a youngster, Drury would spend three or four hours a day swimming and riding waves. Little did he know that he would be building endurance and stamina for a swimming career. During his freshman year in high school he was a member of the varsity swim team and by his senior year, he was named outstanding athlete of the school. In 1956, Drury accepted a swimming scholarship at Fordham University and was an outstanding all-around swimmer in the Northeast region. He also competed off-season for New York Athletic Club in the AAU program. He received All American honors during his college career and was also voted the outstanding athlete at Fordham. Several years later he was inducted into Fordham’s Hall of Fame.
As a Masters swimmer, Gallagher is considered one of the most versatile swimmers in the U.S. and internationally. To date, he has broken FINA Master’s world records from the 50 meter breaststroke to the 1500 meter freestyle. He has set FINA Master’s world records in butterfly, breaststroke, freestyle and individual medley events. Drury has won 101 national and international titles in all strokes as well as the individual medley and has set 27 FINA Masters world records.
2012 marks the 32nd Anniversary of the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. Drury completed the 28.5 mile swim in 1982 and 1983 setting unofficial records both times. The Manhattan Island Foundation is responsible for supporting the learn to swim program for New York City children as well as cleaning up the waters around the island of Manhattan.
He is inducted in the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame and the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honour Administrator.
Drury is currently the Chairman and CEO of Global Gold Corporation, a publicly traded international mining, exploration and development company located in Greenwich, Connecticut. As he enters his senior years, Drury hopes to give back to the sport by teaching youngsters the art and love of swimming as his teacher and mentor, Joe Ruddy, had done.
Not only has Steven Munatones been involved in open water swimming for over 30 years as a coach, administrator and technician, but he has also competed and participated in this, the world’s oldest of all swimming events – swimming in the open water. In 1982, he was the world long distance swimming champion for the 25K. He did five unprecedented swims of over 30 kilometers in Asia and several professional marathon swims in Canada, Mexico and USA.
Steven has been the USA National Open Water Swimming Team Coach at the 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007 World Open Water Championships and the 2006, 2007 and 2009 National Team Camps.
He has brought open water swimming to life on multiple websites with interesting topics including Open Water Swimming Dictionary, Half Century Club, Swim Your Age, Ocean’s Seven, Open Water Wednesday, Open Water Almanac, Openwaterpedia, World’s Top 100 Swims, America’s Top 50 Swims, World Swimming Majors and World Open Water Swimming Rankings. He created the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame website (www.imshof.org), The Daily News of Open Water Swimming (www.dailynewsofopenwaterswimming.com), and www.10Kswim.com. In his passionate desire to showcase the sport and its enthusiasts of every age, ability and background, he is conducting the Global Open Water Swimming Conference in New York City in June of 2011 during the Around Manhattan Island Swim.
He served as the NBC Olympic 10K Marathon Swimming commentator at the 2008 Olympic Games and has written about the sport for NBC, Universal Sports, National Public Radio, USA Today, National Geographic, Swimming World Magazine, Triathlon Magazine, Australia Swimming, Competitor Magazine, U.S. Masters Swimming SWIMMER Magazine and for many years wrote a monthly column on open water swimming for Swimming World Magazine. He has traveled to Brazil, Greece, Japan, China, Cayman Islands, Mexico, Canada, Fiji, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Italy, Australia, Switzerland and all across the USA to cover, organize and promote open water swimming and its athletes.
Steven is the author of Open Water Swimming, published by Human Kinetics, a guide to prepare logistically, physically, and mentally for open water swims of all distances.
Steven is an inductee in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and currently serves on its Board of Directors. He is a representative on the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee and a Technical Swimming Delegate for the Special Olympics 2011 World Games and an advisor to races in Brazil, Greece, Mexico, Japan, Cayman Islands and the USA. He has served as race director for Waikiki Roughwater Swim, USA Swimming National Championships and Pan Pacific Championships.
Christopher, the mastermind behind the vision of the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim and its inclusion in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 2012 London Olympics and the 2016 Rio Olympics has been involved in the sport as a swimmer, event organizer, administrator, technical official, escort, lobbyist, historian and documenter extraordinaire.
If the world of open water swimming has a man behind the scenes, certainly Christopher Guesdon is that man who has been selflessly and passionately devoted to the sport since 1968. Tireless, fair, relentless and visionary, he has truly contributed to the marathon swimming world.
Christopher was a FINA-accredited Open Water Swimming Referee 1992-2008 and was the manager of the Australian all conquering Open Water Swimming Team during the period 1991-1996, member of the FINA Open Water Swimming Technical Committee between 1996 & 2000. He was the referee at the 1998 Perth World Championships and organized the open water events at the 1998 Brisbane Oceania Championships, the 1999 Melbourne Pan Pacific Championships, 2003 Fiji South Pacific Games, 1991-2008 Tasmania Open Water Swimming Championships and the 2007 Darwin Arafura Games as well as lectured at the Argentina International Open Water Swimming Clinic, the Fiji Technical Officials Clinic, the Mombasa, Kenya Technical Officials Clinic. He also competed, refereed, managed swimmers or lectured in Dubai, Hawaii, Suva (Fiji), Cairns, Melbourne, Rarotonga (Cook Islands), Rotorua (New Zealand), Tasmania, Bali (Indonesia), Lac Chibougamau (Canada), Rosario (Argentina), Lac Memphramagog (Canada), Lac St-Jean (Canada), Saguenay River (Canada), Chicoutimi (Canada), Nile river, Suez Canal, Atlantic City (New Jersey), Lake Michigan, Capri-Napoli (Italy), Lake Ontario, Atlanta (Georgia), San Felice & Crotone (Italy), Terracina (Italy), Evian (France), 90K Relay from Malta to Sicily and Lac La Tuque, an epic 24-hour race in Canada. His devotion and knowledge of the sport is unquestioned.
But his legacy will be as the architect of – and passionate lobbyist for – the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim which he designed to be acceptable as an Olympic Games marathon swimming event. He initially presented the plan – initially sketched out on a napkin – the idea to the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee in 1998 where it was accepted as the optimal blueprintfor the good of the sport globally and ultimately adapted for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
His reach has truly been global with race experiences throughout Oceania, Asia, Africa the Americas and Europe. The success of the current professional marathon world has a solid foundation to continue growth, thanks to the largely unseen, but greatly appreciated, efforts of Christopher.
The Marathon Swimming Hall of Famer Leaves a Fantastic Legacy;
In his home country of Australia, Christopher was the Secretary of Australian Open Water Swimming Committee 1988-2001, partly for which he received the Australian Sports Medal in 2000. He was the founder of the Australian Long Distance Swimming Federation, which he started to lead from Tasmania in 1973, and a bureau member of the International Long Distance Swimming Federation, which existed between its founding in Paris in 1953 until 1974.
He co-authored both the comprehensive and authoritative Australian Long Distance and Marathon Swimming Manual and the FINA Open Water Swimming Manual which is used across the globe.
But he also completely understood the perspective of the athletes. He competed in 20 International marathons across the globe and was crowned Australian Marathon Swimming Champion in 1977 & 1981.
He pioneered the Hong Kong Lifeguards Repulse Bay Round Silver Island & Return swim in 1977 (now a FINA 10K World Cup event) and participated in the Daugo Island to Ela Beach Marathon Race (Papua New Guinea), Isle of Capri (Italy) Circumnavigation Swim, Lac La Tuque 24-hour relay, an English Channel attempt and a slew of swims throughout Tasmania: 30K New Norfolk to Cadbury Point Swim, Constitution Dock to Kingston Beach Swim, Howrah Beach to Long Beach Sandy Bay and Montague Bay to Wrest Point Swim and the famous Trans Derwent
A man of the world and superstar of our sport.
FOR THE RECORD: KNOWN FOR MOST OF 26 YEARS (1979-2005) AS KING OF THE ENGLISH CHANNEL (33 CROSSINGS); FIRST TO SWIM 4WAY LAKE WINDERMERE (42 miles, 26h 3m), HUNSTANTON – SKEGNESS-HUNSTANTON (40 MILES), MORA TO AMPOSTA (SPN) (65 KM) AND ENGLISH CHANNEL SWIM SIX TIMES IN ONE YEAR (1984); COMPLETED CROSSINGS AROUND ISLE OF WRIGHT (60 MILES), LOCH LOMOND (22 MILES), LOCH EURN (16 MILES), LOCK TAY (16 MILES), JEBLE TO LATAKIA SYRIA (25 MILES), EVIAN TO LAUSANNE (25 KM) AND NOEL RIVER INTERNATIONAL; CHANNEL SWIMMING ASSOCIATION (CSA) COMMITTEE (1973) AND CHAIRMAN SINCE 1993; 1960 OLYMPIC TEAM: 4x200m freestyle relay alternate.
Most of Mike Reed’s swims were in cold water ranging from 6 degrees C (42 F) to 15 degrees C (60 F). After switching attention from pool swimming (he was on the 1960 British Olympic Team) to open water, he has completed many lake swims in England, Scotland, throughout Europe, Northern Africa including crossing the English Channel 33 times to earn the title, “King of the Channel.” His English Channel swims from 1969-84 totaled 18World Records. He was the first person ever to make 6 successful channel swims in a year. He was Lake Windermere Champion from 1969-1977, setting the record six times. He was a FINA official (1969-1971), elected to the BLDSA (1970s) and has served on the CSA since 1977 as member, honorary Vice President, Chairman and Chairman of the Board.
After a very distinguished marathon swimming career holding the women’s number one world ranking for seven consecutive years (1988-1995), Shelley became the Honorary Secretary of the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee, responsible for the committee’s correspondence and meeting agendas. She oversees the entire FINA OpenWater Swimming programs and activities and served as a FINA OpenWater Official at FINAWorld Championships and other events. Her autobiography, DangerousWhenWet, has helped many marathon swimmers in physical and mental preparation. She is a motivational keynote speaker, champion mindset trainer and has a daily inspirational e-mail service, Your Taylor-Made Solutions.
Silvia Dalotto has done much to enhance marathon swimming in Argentina and throughout South America. Upon completion of her own marathon swimming career, Silvia assisted the Race Organizers in Argentina with the organization of their respective races. During this period, she built an extremely tight bond with the swimmers and acted on their behalf with race organizers. She became the liaison with the South American swimmers and the other marathon event organizers throughout the world as well as the contact with the world’s swimmers to the South American events. During the critical financial crisis in Argentina, she was primarily responsible for the continuance of many events. She proved to be an excellent liaison between the Argentina Swimming Association and the race promoters. She is a certified FINA Open Water Official and has officiated at the FINA Open Water World Championships. On a visit to the United States, she was asked to attend a meeting of the Atlantic City Marathon Swim Organizing Committee. Her explanations and presentations proved invaluable in the committee decision-making process.
In 1977, Dale was appointed the initial United States Swimming Open Water Swimming Committee Chairman. During has tenure, the United States Open Water program developed from one race to a quasi-national event to an adequately funded and successful international program. He welcomed the Masters swimmers as part of the USS Open Water Committee and as the sport grew, he assisted the Masters in forming an independent organization.
He was chairman of the FINA Open Water Swimming Commission; a group assigned to study and make reservations to FINA for inclusion of Open Water Swimming into their activities. He eventually served as Honorary Secretary of the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee. He assisted in writing the International FINA Open Water Swimming Rules. He served as a FINA Open Water Official at several World Championships and World Cup events. He acted as escort for USS National Team Swimmers at two FINA World Cups. In 1985, he became the oldest person to swim the Catalina Channel in California. Since the early 1990’s, he served as the Honorary Secretary of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and has promoted the induction of the finest marathon swimmers in the world into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
For nearly 20 years, Lynn has been involved in the administration and organization of marathon swimming. She started as an aid for the annual swim at Lake Mempremagoy, Quebec, Canada, a race which attracted marathon swimmers from all over the world. She quickly rose to the position of Vice-President of the organization and then to President of the Board of Directors of the race in 1993, 1994 and 1995. She serves as race director and has always conducted an exemplary event.
A power struggle existed between FINA and the International Marathon Swimming Association (IMSA), as to which organization would administer the sport. Lynn assumed an ever-increasing role in the conduct of business within the IMSA. Eventually she helped to repair the relationship and to solve the problems between the two organizations. As with all other world swimming disciplines, in the end, marathon swimming came under the jurisdiction of FINA.
Lynn served as a delegate to many international swims throughout Canada, Italy, Argentina and other South American countries. She remains a very resourceful link for all swimmers and race organizers.
She continues to serve as the Vice President of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.
Roger and Valerie Parsons
After her retirement as one of England’s premier marathon swimmers, Valerie Parsons turned her efforts to the administration of the sport and eventually became the Honorary Chairman of the British Long Distance Swimming Association (BLDSA). In addition to her association duties, Val assisted with the conduct of the Lake Windermere International 25 Kilometer event held every four years. At the time, this was the most important international event on the amateur calendar.
Along the way she married Roger.
When FINA formed a commission to study the feasibility of adding open water events to their program, Roger was selected to represent Great Britain on the FINA Open Water Commission. He was largely responsible for adapting BLDSA and Channel Association rules into the first-ever FINA Open Water Swimming Rules.
When FINA relaxed its rules concerning professionalism, Roger and Val established a FINA World Series of Marathon Swimming. Using the old professional circuits as a guide, he combined several independently run professional races into a single cohesive body. As the FINA Open Water commitment grew, Roger was appointed to the Open Water Sub Committee of the Technical Swimming Committee and then to the Technical Open Water Swimming Committee.
The Parsons used their own personal resources and funds to bring the World Series of Marathon Swimming to fruition. One of the major problems Roger and Val faced was that most of the race organizers had never dealt with FINA or their own national aquatic sports governing bodies. Initially, race organizers had a very difficult time adhering to the required protocols, and Roger and Val explained the requirements of these bureaucracies. Meet managers greatly respected their efforts.
When Roger wanted to proceed at a pace faster than that of FINA he resigned and became the Executive Secretary of the International Marathon Swimming Association (IMSA). The Parsons made special effort to attend all of the estimated ten IMSA marathons in Europe, and South and North America. He continued to work closely with FINA and eventually FINA took over all the administrative functions of the IMSA.
With her expertise, Val was a very welcome part of the team. When you got Roger, you also got Val. At the many races and competitions, Val served as a race official, trainer/coach of a swimmer or in any other capacity where she could meet a need. The Parsons were not part of the history of Marathon Swimming in the late 1980s and 90s; they are the history of the sport during that period.
The British Long Distance Swimming Association
Since that time, the leadership, membership and athlete representation reads like a “who’s who” in marathon swimming. The BLDSA conducts a series of annual events throughout Great Britain and has acted as a model for sister-type organizations in Scotland and Ireland. The BLDSA holds the Lake Windemere International Championship every four years. This event was the premier event for amateur marathon swimmers until FINA relaxed some of its rules concerning professionalism. It continues to be a very important race on the international calendar.
The FINA Open Water Swimming Rules were developed from the BLDSA rules and guidelines. The BLDSA provided the leadership to FINA in the formation of the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Organization. BLDSA members served on the various developmental open water committees and commissions until the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee was officially formed. To this day, the BLDSA continues to conduct a very active program of championships and to serve as a role model for open water swimming organizations throughout the world.
James J. Doty
Jim Doty started his athletic career in track and field earning a varsity letter three years at Harvard throwing the hammer and putting the shot with 1960 Olympic gold and silver medalists Hal Connolly and Al Hall.
In 1956, he finished 78th in the Boston Marathon and decided that longer was better. He had been spending his summers on Black Cat Island, Lake Winniepasaukee, New Hampshire. One time he had to swim one half mile for help after his boat broke down. This swim coupled with his 26-mile marathon run and a liking for long distances, Jim started swimming long distances in 1968, training with Jack Starrett, 1964 English Channel Swimmer. He trained a couple of summers with Hall of Fame coach Charlie Silvia at Pine Knoll Swim School in Massachusetts. He went on to swim across the lengths of most New Hampshire lakes.
Then he started on the professional marathon swimming circuit doing the 24 hour La Tuque and 28 mile Chicoutimi swims in Quebec. He joined the World Professional Marathon Swimming Association tour with swims in Rhode Island, Chicago, Hamilton (Ontario) and Lac Simon (Quebec). He has done the around Cape Ann (Gloucester, MA) (12h 31m), Boston Light (14 times) (5h), double Graves Light (11h 45m) and double Boston Light (10h).
In 1978, Jim incorporated the New England Marathon Swimming Association (NEMSA) as a charity to promote swimming and study water conditions. It re-started the Boston Light race on an annual basis, the previous race being held before World War II. Hall of Famer Annette Kellerman gained fame doing this swim. The Association administers various local swims in the Boston area.
In the 1980s, Jim joined the “L” Street Brownies Frozen Water Swim Club started in 1902. It promotes “polar bear” swims in frozen lakes by chopping through the ice.
Through his efforts, Jim continues promoting and competing in open water swimming events in the New England area. He is the keeper of the records and archives for the area.
Dennis Matuch, USA
Dennis Matuch who under the tutelage of Connie Wennerberg (IMSHOF 1977) became an award-winning marathon swimmer and record holder for which he was inducted into IMSHOF as an Honor Swimmer in 1977.
His coaching credits include Penny Lee Dean who became the women’s world marathon swimming champion in her first year on the professional circuit.
Matuch was a leader in the administration and organization of Marathon Swimming. He became President of the World Professional Marathon Swimming Association and was one of the Founders and Chairman of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.
He received The Irving Davids/Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award 1979 for his contributions to the administration of open water swimming.
Charles E. Silvia
Charles “Red” Silvia was an American swimming coach who trained New England based marathon swimmers for English Channel attempts and was instrumental in organizing many local marathon swims. In 1973, Davis Hart, one of Silvia’s swimmers, set the record for the English Channel.
Silvia won a New England Championship and set several college records as an athlete. He coached and taught life-saving procedures at Springfield College, Massachusetts during a 41 year career. His teams won 214 meets and ten New England Championships.
In 1970 there were some 700 college coaches in the United States and more than half of them were Silvia’s swimmers.
He was inducted in 1976 into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Contributor for having coached more than 200 All-American swimmers, including Olympic gold medalist Bill Yorzyk. He served as its fourth president and later as the Chairman of the ISHOF.
He received The Irving Davids / Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award 1978 for his contributions to the administration of open water swimming.
Conrad Albert Wennerberg
Conrad Wennerberg was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. He attended the University of Chicago Medical School with an interest and focus in what would become known as Sports Medicine. He dropped out when he became engrossed in marathon swimming and moved to Hyde Park, Illinois so he could swim four to five miles a day.
Besides working and taking his daily swims he coached many, including Dennis Matuch and Ted Erikson (the first double crosser of the English Channel), both of whom are IMSHOF Honor Swimmer inductees.
Conrad developed a keen interest in cold water swimming, which was an element he brought to his coaching. Cold water swimming became the norm for him, as he swam in Lake Michigan every single day for seven years. In the winter he would take an ice pick or axe to chip away the lakefront ice to gain access to the water.
He was an eminent historian of marathon swimming and in 1974, he wrote “Wind, Waves and Sunburn”, a book chronicling the history of marathon swimming that at the time was considered the sport’s most definitive work.
He was Chairman Emeritus of the IMSHOF.
In 1977 he was inducted into the IMSHOF as an Honor Administrator and awarded the Irving Davids / Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award.
Aquatique Club du lac St. Jean
Early in the 1950’s, Martin Bédard, a native of Roberval, Quebec, Canada, while contemplating lac St-Jean dreamt that someday, someone would conquer this vast watery expanse and swim, in a single stretch, the 32 km distance that separates the municipalities of Péribonka and Roberval. Bédard started talking to friends and experts. No one took him seriously, being convinced that such a feat was virtually impossible. Like all pioneers, Martin Bédard was tenacious and soon developed a plan.
On July 23rd, 1955, seven swimmers signed up for the very first crossing of lac St-Jean. Of the seven swimmers present at the departure in Vauvert, only Jacques Amyot, a swimmer from Quebec City, completed the 32 km marathon. Despite the threat of winds, waves and violent thunderstorms, he managed to reach the shore in Roberval where he was welcomed by the admiring and incredulous stares of the many supporters there to greet him. As he climbed out of the water, Jacques Amyot asked for ice cream! Later, when questioned about what had motivated him to finish the race in such bad weather, Amyot replied, “Well, I couldn’t get into the boat that accompanied me because there was no room!”
The start was moved from Vauvert to Peribonka where it remains today.
In 1958, at the 4th Traversée, the first group of participants from outside Canada took part in the event. Greta Anderson (IMSHOF 1964, ISHOF 1969), a young Danish woman from the United States, won the marathon.
In the 1970’s, Olympic athletes, who were trained to swim in pools, made their appearance in the open water discipline. From 1974 to 1979, American, John Kinsella (IMSHOF 1978, ISHOF 1986), won the 32 km marathon for 6 consecutive years.
The Traversée International du lac St. Jean became the organization entrusted with the staging of seven open water events at the elite and amateur levels. It was hailed as a model of organization, professionalism and support offer to the athletes.
In 1976 the organization was presented the Irving Davids / Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award for its contribution to the administration of open water swimming.
Ray and Audrey Scott
For Ray, a lecturer and head of Law and Accounting at the Folkestone College of
Technology, and Audrey, a nurse, long distance swimming was their adopted passion, but neither would claim to be swimmers. Supporting English Channel swimming became their life. Nothing was too much trouble for this husband-and-wife team who ran the Channel Swimming Association for 33 years. Ray served as Chairman from 1960– 1993 and then as Secretary from 1993– 1994 after Audrey died. Ray acted as an Association Observer for over 300 swims (his first was in 1950) and was present on many of the great occasions in Channel swimming history.
Audrey served initially as Assistant Secretary and in the early 1970’s took over as Honorary Secretary until her death in 1993. Such was her commitment and admiration for those who took on the English Channel that Audrey tried to see every swimmer start and finish, although logistics did not always make that possible. In the swim season she served the worldwide membership 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with a willing heart and never a word of complaint.
In 1975 Ray and Audrey Scott were presented the Irving Davids / Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award for their contributions to the administration of open water swimming.
Bringing the Masses to Open Water Swimming
Jerry Nason was an American writer specializing in marathon running reporting from Winchester, Massachusetts. He wrote frequently about the Boston Light Swim and did much to support the New England Marathon Swimming Association and marathon swimming in New England. His writings told the story of the technical aspects of the marathon swimming.
Jerry was born to write about sports. He began working at the Boston Globe newspaper as a copy boy before becoming a cartoonist. He was elevated to schoolboy sports editor, college editor and then sports editor and columnist in 1942. His career culminated as the sports editor for the Boston Globe for 33 years before retiring in 1974. He was nicknamed ‘The Expert’ for his knowledge of the Boston Marathon and his publication of its history.
He became the first non-runner elected to the Road Runners Hall of Fame. But he not only pecked on his typewriter to cover seven Olympic Games, the 1941 Sugar Bowl, numerous baseball World Series, world championship fights, Harvard football games, and track meets, but also worked hard to colorfully describe the exploits of open water swimmers.
He was an unparalleled wordsmith when it came to describing the inner drive needed by the marathon swimmer to complete their attempts and enabled readers to understand the experiences of those who pushed themselves to extraordinary lengths in the open water. His reports would give the impression of being on the swimmer’s escort craft and observing the swim stroke-by-stroke.
While Jerry is known more for his numerous awards by his peers and in his industry, the marathon swimming world appreciated his efforts to bring the passion of swimmers to the general public.
In 1974 as a result of his efforts and reach he was presented the Irving Davids / Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award for his contributions to open water swimming.
Willy van Rysel
Willy van Rysel (born Willhemina Magdalena van Rijsel) Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Willy van Rysel (IMSHOF 2002) had neither coaching nor encouragement. She taught herself to swim in the sea in her native Netherlands at the age of seven, and then pursued her passion in secret because her parents considered it improper for a girl to be seen in a swimsuit. Banned from even owning a costume, she swam in a vest held together at the bottom by a safety pin.
In later years she spent her pocket money on watching international swimmers and worked to emulate their techniques. She entered her first race at 17 and won.
After the World War II, van Rysel became a leading open water swimmer, completing more than 100 lake, sea and river swims in Europe and North America and breaking records in many. Willy also played water polo, gave demonstrations of springboard diving and in 1953 coached a team of 16 women and two boys for a water ballet show marking the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth in England. She had a major hand in introducing synchronized swimming to Britain in the 1950s after watching a demonstration by the great American swimmer, Beulah Gundling. At 92, Willy retired from her swimming career but will always be remembered for the huge impact she had on Masters Swimming, on the local, national and international levels. She held 40+ world records in seven age groups over a 30-year period – from 60-64 years through 90-94 years.
Channel swimming was still rare in the post-war years and van Rysel’s plans to swim the English Channel in 1949 made headlines. Through no fault of her own, the France-to-England attempt ended minutes from success when her escort boat hit the wall of Dover harbour in dense fog. In the ensuing confusion, van Rysel was ordered to leave the water some 500 yards from the beach.
She may have done just as much out of the pool as in the pool for Masters Swimming by bringing Masters Swimming to the forefront in Great Britain.
She began with the British Long Distance Swimming Association, who responded in 1968 by introducing a “veterans” category for women over 40 and men over 45. Meanwhile, masters’ swimming was now well-established in North America and Willy began badgering the English Amateur Swimming Association to introduce five-year age groups for over-25s. In 1987, her dream of a National Championship was realized with the inaugural GB Masters Championships in Port Talbot.
In 1973 she was the first woman to be awarded the Irving Davids / Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award for her contributions to open water swimming. Her citation read: “for gaining acceptance of women distance swimmers and for promoting long distance swimming over the age of 40 in England.”
William Forrest “Buck” Dawson
Known as “Mr. Swimming Hall of Fame,” it was Buck’s (ISHOF 1986, IMSHOF 1993) tireless efforts that established the International Swimming Hall of Fame’s presence in Fort Lauderdale, helping give rise to what many view as Fort Lauderdale—Swimming Capital of the World. For a person who could not swim, Buck did more for swimming than any non-swimmer in the world. He was a promoter, author, historian, fundraiser and prankster.
He was chosen as the International Swimming Hall of Fame’s first executive director in 1963. Dawson made the Hall grow from an idea to a shoebox collection and ultimately a multi-million dollar operation as the showcase and archives of swimming. Buck was a tireless, smiling, globetrotting ambassador of swimming,
Dawson created the Annual Fort Lauderdale Rough Water Swim, now the longest-running ocean mile swim on the eastern coast of the United States. At one time or another, he brought the U.S. National Championships of swimming, diving, synchronized swimming and water polo to Fort Lauderdale. It was Dawson who gave the now Fort Lauderdale-based American Swimming Coaches Association roots in 1971 when he and International Swimming Hall of Fame staff assumed administrative duties for ASCA.
He was the first president of the International Sports Heritage Association, now a 136 member organization of Sports Halls of Fame which he founded under the name of International Association of Sports Museums and Halls of Fame. Under Dawson’s leadership, ISHOF became the world’s first “International” Hall of Fame when it was recognized by the 96 member FINA Congress (the world’s governing body of swimming) in 1968.
As swimming’s walking encyclopedia, he was respected in his field not only for his knowledge, but his zest for life, his search for new facts, memorabilia, new ways to teach children to swim and keep the sport alive and growing. Dawson was the common denominator that tied the past to the present.
He wrote hundreds of short stories and authored or co-authored over 18 books on a full range of subjects from swimming, volcanoes and the environment, the American Civil War and World War II. For Swimmers, Weissmuller to Spitz—An Era to Remember (Swimming Hall of Famers from 1965-1987), Age Group Swimming and Diving For Teacher and Pupil (with wife RoseMary), Million Dollar Mermaids—America’s Love Affair With Its First Women Swimmers, and Gold Medal Pools (features the world’s most beautiful pools).
For his service in the Army in World War II, he is a recipient of 17 decorations including the Bronze Star and French Medal of Honor. He spent his last Army year in Walter Reed Hospital recovering from multiple injuries suffered in a jeep accident. He was discharged from the hospital wearing a black eye patch over his left eye, a patch which became his identification mark for the rest of his life.
His 1955 marriage to RoseMary Mann Corson was his invitation to join the Mann family camps. Ak-o-Mak (for girls) and Chikopi (for boys), the world’s first competitive swimming camps located in Ontario, Canada, were founded by RoseMary’s father, Michigan and Olympic swimming coach Matt Mann in 1920. Dawson was the campfire entertainment, sports teacher and instigator while RoseMary was the swimming coach, disciplinarian and philosopher—a perfect combination of talent.
Dawson’s interest in lake swimming led to his training swimmers for marathon swimming races and included Fort Lauderdale’s Diana Nyad as well as Marty Sinn, Susie Thrasher, Jocelyn Muir and more, taking them on crossings of the English Channel, Lake Ontario and other bodies of water. The camp girls and boys competed in the U.S. Long Distance Championship Three and Four Mile Swims, each summer. With Rosemary, he helped organize the Ann Arbor, Michigan, Swim Club in the late 1950’s, one of the country’s first swimming clubs for women. He was Chair of Michigan Women’s AAU Swimming for eight years and served three terms on the United States Olympic Swimming Committee. He shared responsibility with RoseMary in starting National Collegiate Swimming for women and reviving National Women’s Water Polo in the early 1960’s.
In 1972 he was presented the Irving Davids / Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award for Meritorious Service to Long Distance Swimming.
Charles Gerald Forsberg
Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.); Royal Navy (R.N.) retired; British Long Distance Swimming Association: champion swimmer competing in 211 long distance championships.
From his early days as a young swimmer and water polo player to his years as an octogenarian, this giant of a man spent his whole life in, under or on top of water – salt and bitter to the taste or fresh and freezing to the touch. A man of prodigious memory not only achieved tremendous success as a competitor and athlete in long distance swimming but also became the guiding light to hundreds of thousands of readers in his books and magazines about marathon swimming. Gerald Forsberg, known as Gerry in the marathon swimming circles, has been one of the greatest single influences in promoting long distance swimming.
In 1957 at the age of 45 he set the England-France cross Channel record. Two weeks later he won the British Long Distance Swimming Association’s Windermere Championship even though he was the oldest competitor in the event.
But the Commander’s greatest contribution to Marathon Swimming was been through his wit, humor, encouragement, journalism, administrative and leadership activities in the United Kingdom. He wrote three masterpiece volumes on long distance swimming, Long Distance Swimming (1957), Strokes in Swimming (1961) and Modern Long Distance Swimming (1963). He wrote countless freelance articles, papers and commentaries totaling 40,000 words of print per year.
In 1963 he was appointed the President of the Channel Swimming Association, a position he served until 1997. In 1965 he was inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Swimmer.
He would go on to be the Senior Selector for the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame for 26 years and in 1977 was appointed Member Emeritus of the Selection Board. He was awarded the Harold Fern Trophy by the English Amateur Swimming Association for being the male person who has made the most outstanding contribution to swimming at the national or international level over the years.
The British Long Distance Swimming Association Handbook describes him as “a short, aldermanic figure who hasn’t touched his toes in 15 years. Favorite posture is with pipe in one hand, a pint in the other, pontificating on swimming.” He talks as plainly with the Queen as he does with the aspiring open water swimmer. He was one of long distance swimming’s greatest ambassadors.
For 41 years, his monthly column in Britain’s Swimming Times “Long Distance Swimming” was worldwide and contained every bit of news, gossip, advice and information a person could want. It served to inform and inspire those involved in open water and marathon swimming. His openness, choice of words and British humor are what made him one of the most sought after writer by readers of the sport and around the world.
In 1998 he was the recipient of a further honor being inducted as a Pioneer Contributor into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
In 1971 he was presented the Irving Davids / Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award for Meritorious Service to Long Distance Swimming.
Joe Grossman is considered by many to be the Founding Father of the modern era of marathon swimming.
Joe was a public information officer by profession and traveled the world on his job. He took these opportunities to promote marathon swimming, to establish personnel contacts and lay the necessary groundwork to bring unity to the marathon swimming programs.
Joe was involved in all aspects of marathon swimming administration, organization and promotion. He was instrumental in the formation of the World Professional Marathon Swimming Association and the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, and served as the organization’s secretary. His zest for the betterment of professional swimmers, marathon races and solo swims was unparalleled. He worked tirelessly to increase the prize money and to develop an equitable distribution of the available funds.
He was relentless. His passion and attention to detail was extraordinary. There was nothing involved or related to open water swimming that did not fascinate him or interest him: pilots and prize money, pacing and pioneers, sponsorship and safety, history and hydration.
His efforts laid the foundation for others to build the systems incorporated into the present-day administration and organization of marathon swimming.
In 1970 he was the first to be presented the Irving Davids / Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award for Meritorious Service to Long Distance Swimming.