G. HAROLD MARTIN (USA)
Honor Pioneer Contributor
FOR THE RECORD: Legal advisor to ISHOF during and after its Charter year (1965); Promoter of ISHOF’s “Every Child A Swimmer” Program; Catalyst in building first municipal swimming pool in Ft. Lauderdale (1928).
Known affectionately as “Judge”, a name derived from a brief tenure as City Judge, G. Harold Martin did more to pioneer the acceptance of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, the College Coaches Swim Forum and swimming in general to the community of Fort Lauderdale and eventually to the development of ISHOF and Fort Lauderdale as a mecca to international swimming.
It all began when at the age of 25, Martin went to the beach to see the waves in the early stages of what became the Hurricane of 1926. He had just moved to Fort Lauderdale, didn’t know how to
swim and without knowing how strong the waves really were, he entered the water. Luckily, the force of the waves washed him ashore, but the feeling of that frightful evening never left him, and he soon began a one-man crusade to get the City and other organizations to recognize the need for water safety and recreation. His life, filled with unselfish, humanitarian deeds, was destined to serve aquatics and the formation of projects which eventually led to the establishment of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
When the bath house on Fort Lauderdale Beach was washed away in the 1926 hurricane, Martin began a campaign to build a platform on platoons equipped with diving boards adjacent to the shore in the Atlantic Ocean. He donated his city clerk’s monthly salary and with the Civitan Club members, the float was built. It became so popular that the City used the last of its “Boom” money to build the salt water Casino Pool the next year on Fort Lauderdale Beach.
The Casino Pool was one of two pools in South Florida. Because of the Casino, and with the urging of Judge Martin, university swim teams began migrating to Fort Lauderdale in 1935 to train and exchange ideas at what became known as the College Coaches Swim Forum. Judge provided housing and thus the incentive for teams to travel south to Florida. Martin attended a total of 64 Forums until his death in 1998. The Forum is now the longest running event of its kind in the country.
Because of his law practice, Judge Martin organized and furnished the legal leadership for the Charter to formally establish the College Coaches Swim Forum Committee. It was his local leadership which helped to convince the Fort Lauderdale City Commission 29 years later in 1964 to consider locating a Swimming Hall of Fame at or near the Casino Pool. Not only did Judge organize and furnish the leadership for this committee, he organized the swimming project into a corporation, prepared its by-laws, and wrote the Charter which is the foundation for the Swimming Hall of Fame, canvassed the swimming profession for ideas for a new swimming pool and Hall of Fame Shrine and for those persons who could best administer its activities. He also furnished office space for one year for the new organization. Again at his own expense, he obtained the non-profit status for the new ISHOF Corporation.
Judge championed the “Every Child A Swimmer” program which promoted learn-to-swim programs for school children, through Kiwanis Club’s Key Club International. Key Club is the world’s largest high school service club with over 4,000 clubs and 130,000 members.
Because his expertise and interests went beyond swimming he is known as the “Father of Recreation” in Fort Lauderdale, establishing parks and organizing recreation sports teams.
Judge Martin never undertook any task when others were performing it. His only purpose was to be a good citizen, husband, father and family man. Only when he saw a need going unattended did he step in, giving credit to those who assisted him. His ability was to improve on the good but sometimes unworkable projects of others.