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Al Schoenfield Media Award



Born November 17, 1906 in Paris, France, Francois Oppenheim became one of the foremost journalists in swimming. During his lifetime he attended most all the major swimming competitions of the world and was a noted French journalist as well as a regular contributor to the French press.


During the 1920s, he was a competitive swimmer. In the 1930s he became both a swimming coach and sports journalist. Because of his keen interest in writing, he ended his coaching career in 1953 to devote himself fulltime to sports journalism.


He became a journalist in L’Equipe (the sports daily in Paris) from 1953 - 1963. He also worked for the French Swimming Federation for their magazine Natation.


From 1924, Oppenheim attended and covered seven Olympic Swimming Championships, one British Commonwealth Games and seven European Swimming Championships. During his career as a swimming coach of the team on which he had originally been a competitive swimmer, the Cercle des Nageurs de Marseille, bettered French Open records as well as age-group records of France. He molded the training of many swimming coaches, the most notable being Georges Garret, with whom he coached from 1940 - 1953 and who was the coach of the French Swimming Team in 1970.


Oppenheim resigned his journalism career in 1963 to accept a position as Technical Advisor to the French Secretary of State to Youth and Sports. In this capacity he greatly contributed to the preparation of the New Caledonia Swim Team, winners of the II and III South Pacific Games.


His book, The History of Swimming, was first published in France in his native French language. In 1970, it was translated and the English version was published by Swimming World. His book is a report on the history and evolution of swimming and the swimming strokes. It offers a progress of stroke development and the evolution of conditioning. Emphasis is also placed on record keeping with extensive use of international record tables. He was the author and publisher of an additional three books, Des Nageurs et de Records, LaTable Ronde (1961), La Natation, Editions de la Table Ronde (1964), and Histoire de la Natation Mondalie et Francaise, Additions Chairon, (1977).

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