Presidential Honor Award
Conferred in recognition of an extraordinary or exceptional achievement to promote the mission of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
John Spannuth (USA)
For over fifty-years, John Spannuth has been one of the most influential, impactful and innovative
leaders in the field of aquatics. John Spannuth’s professional life in aquatics began in 1956, when
he was hired as Aquatics Director at the Reading YMCA, in Reading, Pennsylvania. This led to his
being hired as the Aquatics Director and Head Swimming coach for Phillips Petroleum Co. in
Bartlesville, Oklahoma where, in seven years, he developed one of the best age group swim teams in
the country. He was the National Aquatics Administrator for the AAU where, on a national level, he guided all four disciplines plus long-distance swimming. He was one of the founding fathers of Adult Age-Group swimming, today known as Masters Swimming and served as president of the American Swimming Coaches Association. Sergeant Shriver tapped him to be the International Director of the Special Olympics in Washington D.C. where he guided the growth of Special Olympics for Eunice Shriver and helped to build it into an internationally recognized program for persons with mental disabilities. He served four years in the Middle East as Aquatics, Sports and Recreation Administrator in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, while teaching swimming on all levels, including competitive swimming, to native children of the region.
Today, in addition to being the President and CEO of the United States Water Fitness Association (USWFA) he is a well-known national and international conference speaker and promoter of all aspects of aquatics.
The Presidential Honor award is not given out every year and it is totally up to the discretion of the President of ISHOF of who receives it. This year, Bruce Wigo is taking the opportunity to use this award to thank and recognize John, not only for all that he has done for aquatics, but for what he has done personally to help him in so many ways during the past ten years – with his encouragement and positive, uplifting thoughts. He has also been an invaluable historical resource, mento and friend. This Award is Wigo’s way of publicly acknowledging John for all he has done for him and for the Hall of Fame.
The ISHOF Presidential Award is conferred in recognition of an extraordinary or exceptional achievement to promote the mission of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. This year’s recipient, Melanie Beck, went above and beyond the call of duty when she arranged for ISHOF to present an exhibition of swimming history at “thecentre:mk”, in Milton Keynes, UK, in 2012. Not only did this exhibit provide fantastic exposure for ISHOF, but it helped develop a model for future traveling exhibitions and also added to the bottom line. But Melanie is not just a marketing genius, she is an extraordinary person, from an exceptional family who is passionate about aquatics.
Melanie started her volunteer service at 18 when she began coaching, gained her national judging certification and took up the voluntary post of Hertfordshire County Diving Secretary. Over the next few years, she brought up her own young family and was a willing bystander as her father, Jeff Cook, worked countless hours organizing diving events throughout the UK and enjoyed many lively family lunch debates on the development of diving worldwide. Fast forward to the year of the Athens Olympics when Melanie suffered the unexpected loss of her father. At the time, he had just enjoyed a year as President of the ASA, had been an active member of the LEN and FINA Technical Diving Committees. The loss of her father affected her profoundly and a chance meeting with David Sparkes, Chief Executive of British Swimming, reignited her enthusiasm and motivated her to continue his work. With ISHOF Board Member and family friend Eldon Godfrey serving as confidante and unwavering supporter, Melanie accepted the position of Chair of British Swimming’s Technical Diving Committee. In 2008, she was appointed to the post of Director of the prestigious FINA Diving World Series and currently sits on the FINA Technical Diving Committee. She also was one of 14 women in British Sport selected for a key “Women in Sport” development program run by the British Olympic Federation from which she graduated in 2011. That, of course, was preparation for the London Olympics.
At home, in addition to full-time employment, Melanie raises funds for a national charity, SportsAid, to support aspiring young athletes in the Eastern Region of England, to date the region has raised almost £1 million and helps 160 pre-podium young people each year.
Melanie, who has worked with countless interesting people and cultures around the globe, says she could never give back as much as diving has given her. We beg to differ, the debt is with the world of aquatics. Thank you, Melanie.
Lewis Gordon Pugh
Lewis Gordon Pugh is a British environmental campaigner, swimmer, maritime lawyer and motivational speaker. He spent his first ten years in England before emigrating with his parents to South Africa when he was 10 years old. He read politics and law at the University of Cape Town and graduated with distinction and at the top of his Masters class. In his mid-twenties, he returned to England where he read International Law at Jesus College, Cambridge and then worked as a maritime lawyer in the City of London.
Lewis Gordon Pugh loves to pioneer new swimming routes around or between landmarks once thought unswimmable. In 2006, he swam the drought-stricken Thames; also that year he became the first swimmer to do a long-distance swim in all five oceans of the world. The following year, he made the first long-distance swim across the North Pole — where climate change made the ice temporarily disappear. Heading into the second decade of his swimming career, he’s regarded as the greatest cold-water swimmer in history.
His swims have given him a sea-level view of our planet, and inspired him to do his bit to help preserve it. He left a career in maritime law to become a public speaker on environmental issues with his group, Polar Defence Project — and of course to plan more astonishing swims and treks. In September 2008, Pugh and Robbie Hedgus kayaked across the Arctic Ocean into the polar ice pack, to raise awareness of the thinning sea ice and the dangers of climate change in the Arctic and across the world. And at the end of May 2010 he swam 1 kilometer across Pumori, a meltwater lake situated next to the Khumbu Glacier on Mount Everest, at an altitude of 5300 meters, to draw attention to the melting of the Asian glaciers. He completed the swim — the highest any person has undertaken — in less than 23 minutes. “Glaciers are not just ice: they are a lifeline, they provide water to 2 billion people, and we need to protect them,” he says.
Kenneth Treadway (USA)
Having been born in Oklahoma during the 1930’s into a Cherokee Indian Sharecropper family may cause one to ask, “How in the world did this guy become an inductee into the International Swimming Hall of Fame?” Buck Dawson would have answered that question by telling you, “He’s just a good ol’ country boy who loves people and swimming”.
Ken Treadway has received almost every award our sport has to offer, from receiving the AAU “Neptune” award in 1972, then swimming’s highest honor, to being inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1983. Ken doesn’t need another award, in fact he recently donated some of the ones he did receive to ISHOF. But he does deserve to be remembered for all he has done for swimming. Because Ken and his wife Bettie don’t travel much anymore, Buck Dawson believed the Olympic Trials in Omaha, just a three hour drive from their home in Overland Park, Kansas, provided swimming with an opportunity to recognize and once again thank Ken for all he has done for swimming.
Over a span of 45 years Ken Treadway was a competitor, coach, official, chairman of state, national and Olympic Committees as well as an employee of the Phillips Petroleum Company. He founded the Phillips 66 Splash Club, in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, in 1950 and the team is still one of the most successful swimming organizations in history. He then went on to found the successful Phillips 66 Long Beach Aquatic Club with Coach Don Gambril.
He persuaded his company to sponsor an annual swim meet and in 1963 this led to Phillips’ hosting four national swimming championships. In 1972, Ken and Dr. John Bogert, another “Red Man,” developed a plan to become a National Sponsor of Swimming. The sponsorship started in 1973 and today ConocoPhillips’ sponsorship of USA Swimming is the longest continuous corporate sponsorship of any amateur sport in America.
It was Ken and the late Dr. Hal Henning who had the honor of representing the United States at the FINA meeting when the International Swimming Hall of Fame was approved by that international body of aquatics.
Coach Peter Daland can tell stories all night about his and Ken’s travels around the world in support of a program Ken started called “Coaching The Coaches”. Both of them were great international ambassadors for the country, for ISHOF, for the American Swimming Coaches Association, for AAU Swimming and their sponsor, ConocoPhillips. In fact one of their sojourns was requested by the U. S. Department of State!
Treadway’s ability to get right at the crux of a problem, and then lead parties to an effective diplomatic compromise, endeared him to the swimming world, created advancement for him at Phillips and led to his selection as a member of the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team’s Staff in Tokyo, Mexico City and Munich.
Not the least of his accomplishments was finding a pathway for swimming and diving to operate in a high level business- like manner and to enhance their image without “passing the plate” at swim meets.
In 1983, he was inducted into the ISHOF as an Honoree Contributor, and now, we take time to remember and honor him again with ISHOF’s President’s Award.
Jim Ellis’ story is testimony to the power of dreams and their ability to inspire and transform human life. His story is the subject of the recently released film, PRIDE, starring Terrence Howard and Bernie Mac. Ellis was born in 1947 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was a period in American social and cultural history when swimming pools were strictly segregated along racial lines and for the most part African Americans were provided very few opportunities to swim. While the Supreme Court decision of Brown vs. Board of Education officially ended segregation, most municipal swimming pools simply closed or privatized in the 1950’s rather than allow racial mixing.
In Pittsburgh, there were two great pools, Highland Park and Kennywood. While Highland Park integrated, Kennywood closed. It was at the Highland Park pool where Jim Ellis learned to love swimming and eventually became a lifeguard at the pool in spite of the racial tensions that existed at the time. He swam for Winchester High School and then Cheney State, a historically Black college near Philadelphia.
As the movie PRIDE recounts, Ellis took job in an impoverished neighborhood and founded the
P.D.R. (Philadelphia Department of Recreation) Swim Team, based at the Marcus Foster Recreation
Center in the Nicetown section of Philadelphia, in 1971.
Over the past 36 years, Ellis has been introducing competitive swimming to inner city youth and their families. His coaching and mentoring has provided a healthy and stimulating environment in which the young athletes can grow and compete. It also brings together families from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Through travel to various competitions, the program exposes swimmers to other parts of the country and different lifestyles. Today, P.D.R. is a nationally recognized competitive swim team, the nation’s best predominately African-American team, and has become a model for urban swim programs around the country. Over a hundred of his swimmers have attended college on swimming scholarships. As a real-life role model, Ellis’ story strikes a chord with all types of audiences. Coach Ellis is a loveable storyteller whose inspiring true-to-life story captivates and motivates audiences to always remember the influential power of one.
Ellis is being recognized not only for his accomplishments as a coach and mentor, but bringing his personal story to the Big Screen.
“Jim is a remarkable individual with a remarkable story to tell,” said Richard Korhammer, President of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. “We all share Jim’s dream that PRIDE will serve as an inspiration for more African Americans and everyone who sees the film to share his love of swimming.”
Tom Lamar is the unsung hero in the creation of the International Swimming Hall of Fame and in helping to shape the young lives of the boys and girls who he taught and coached in swimming. Least we forget, here is Tom’s story.
He was born on June 20, 1917 in Meriwether County, Georgia and attended school in Hebbardville, a small mill town with a typical commissary operation. His fond childhood memories were Daddy taking him to the Okefenokee Swamp in the family motorcar for fishing, seeing huge alligators and tramping through the swamp. Other memories included K.K.K. demonstrations, parades, cross burnings, church and Sunday school. He was a great sports enthusiast playing baseball, football and basketball with a little swimming.
Tom’s father, worked for the Seaboard Railroad and the family lived in various places in Florida from Starke to Lake Worth, where he graduated from high school. He played Class D baseball in Alabama, worked at a bank in Jacksonville and held a job at United Fruit in New Orleans. After returning to Lake Worth, he became the beach Head Lifeguard, coached the high school swim team, volunteered for U.S. Coast Guard duty and served as the Lake Worth recreation director. All the while, he knew that a college education was necessary to keep improving. So it was on to the University of Miami in 1946, graduating Cum Laude in 16months and coaching the school’s first legitimate swimming team which went undefeated.
He then coached at Fort Lauderdale High School for six years before moving to Pine Crest School as coach. While in Fort Lauderdale, Tom went into public administration as assistant to the City Manager. In this role, he helped pass the bond issue, which provided the funds to dredge the Intracoastal Waterway and Bahia Mar to fill in the seawall, which is now the site of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
The site became State property and the State granted the rights allowing the Hall of Fame to be built and the City to build a swimming facility. Tom traveled to the 1962 AAU Convention in Detroit to lobby for Fort Lauderdale to become the selected city to host the Swimming Hall of Fame. Tom then moved on to Winter Park, Florida, where he taught junior high school and coached the Winter Park High School Swim Team. It was during this time that he received a U.S. State Department offer to travel to Iran as an advisor to their Athletic Association, instructing their swim coaches. He returned to Winter Park and retired a few years later in 1973, turning the program over to his assistant, Skip Foster, who continued to produce winning teams.
With 29 State Champion Teams, Tom is the second winningest high school coach in the nation. Only his pupil, Jack Nelson, has more with 30 wins. At the Lake Worth High School, his boys won State Championships in 1945 and 1947 and the girls in 1946. Eight years at Fort Lauderdale High School (1948-1955) saw both boys and girls championship, each of the years. At Pine Crest School, the girls won six successive years (1956-1961) and the boys won in 1957, ’58 and ’59. He had another Championship at Winter Park. As the first great Florida High School Swimming coach, Tom won State Championships at four different schools. He also coached the Winter Park YMCA, which placed second in 1972 at the swimming pool he helped establish- the Hall of Fame Pool.
After two years coaching at the University of Miami, Lamar was selected as the U.S Women’s Swimming Team Coach for the 1955 Pan American Games. Two of his swimmers, Carolyn Greene and Cynthia Gill competed on the team. Other swimmers included 1956 Olympian Jack Nelson, who succeeded Tom at Pine Crest School and Phil Drake, butterfly NCAA National Champion. Lamar has thousands of swimmers who tribute him as their reason for success.
Bill Matson/Robert Duenkel
Norman D. Tripp
T. Denis Jotcham
Rogers B. "Tiger" Holmes