ISHOF 58th Honoree Induction Ceremony brings out all the Aquatic Superstars and breaks record for largest Honoree Induction Ceremony

This year ISHOF hosted the 58th annual Honoree Induction Ceremony on Saturday, September 30, 2023 and it was a year of firsts. It was the first year ISHOF hosted 13 Honorees from eight different countries from around the globe! It was the first year we inducted an Honoree from Zimbabwe: The lovely KIRSTY COVENTRY, who is currently serving her country as the Honorable Minister of Youth Affair, Sport, Art and Recreation. Kirsty was inducted by Kim Brackin, her coach at Auburn University, when she swam here in the states during her University years. She was also supported by her Head Auburn Coach, David Marsh, ISHOF Honoree, who is currently coaching at CAL Berkeley.

Another first was ISHOF allowed the incoming Honorees to choose anyone they wanted to induct them. Typically, it must be an Honoree who inducts you, but because of television, we decided to change it up this year. And that brings us to another first: ESPN+. Thanks to producer Peter Lasser, ISHOF was able to live stream the Honoree Induction Ceremonies on ESPN+. Lasser’s resume includes everything from the Olympic Games to NCAA’s to United Football League. We have to thank Peter for his amazing talent and hard work, we think it was a FABULOUS show! If you have not seen it yet, it is available ON DEMAND on ESPN+ for the next 60 days.

One thing that was NOT a first was the five-time Olympian, twelve-time Olympic medalist, DARA TORRES, as our emcee. And she was outstanding! Dara was live for two hours and I think she may have been the best she has ever been! This may have been her fourth time emceeing for us, but she was without a doubt spectacular! Watch it for yourself and see!

CESAR CIELO, Honor Swimmer from Brazil was inducted as the first Honoree of the evening. He gave a heartfelt speech, thanking his parents for always being there for him, which included taking him to all his practices and going to all his meets… even though his events were so short! The life of a sprinter! Even if he was the best in the world! Cesar was inducted by his very first Coach Mario Sobrinho, who he said was with him all the way. Cesar was also accompanied from Brazil by his wife Kelly and his son.

In the world of Synchronized, now Artistic Swimming, the name CHRIS CARVER is known throughout the world and her induction, some say was long overdue. She began coaching in the 1970’s in Northern California and she took her group of 10 and under girls and coached them all the way to the top of the Olympic podium and to the gold medal. Not many coaches can say they did that! And two of those girls, now women, came to her induction Saturday night, ISHOF Honorees themselves, BECKY DYROEN LANCER and JILL SUDDITH SMITH. Chris was inducted by her longtime friend, ISHOF Honoree and Coach, GAIL EMERY.

Like Artistic Swimming, Water Polo is one of the hardest sports to play. But unlike Artistic Swimming, Water Polo only recently became a sport for women and an Olympic sport for women in 2000. Chris Carver may have had the largest number of attendees there to support her, but HEATHER PETRI, easily had the loudest cheering section. Petri is a four-time Olympian, 2000-2012, and her teammates showed their love and support once she got on stage. Petri had friend and fellow teammate Nicolle Payne induct her on Saturday night. Payne was a member of the 2000 and 2004 Olympic team, playing goalkeeper along with Petri.

We’ve seen some the greatest of their sport, but then there is always the favorite. MISSY FRANKLIN couldn’t help but be the favorite with her beautiful smile that lights up a room, her kindness and willingness to stop and say hello, sign an autograph or take a photo. And then she gets in the pool and swims out of her mind. In London, she came away with five medals, four gold and one bronze and grabbed one more four years later in Rio. Missy will always be that girl with that smile. Always the favorite. Missy was inducted by her Dad, Richard Franklin.

STÉPHANE LECAT was inducted this year as our 2023 Honor Open Water Swimmer. Lecat currently leads the French Open Water Team for his country and has been quite successful at it. Of course he had quite the resume himself as a swimmer. Lecat had quite the contingency accompany him from France, about 15 in all. His friend, Pierre Guirard was with him to induct him into ISHOF.

Is he the greatest breaststroker of all-time? One could certainly make that argument! KOSUKE KITAJIMA won back to back double gold medals in 2004 and 2008 in the 100 and 200-meter breaststroke. Four gold medals. Kitajima was quiet and humble, but smiled and took photos with everyone. He had an interpreter for his speech, yet he seemed to speak English fairly well. 1984 Olympic gold medalist in the 100-meter breaststroke (and 400 medley relay), Steve Lundquist was on hand to induct Kitajima. Almost as impressive as his back to back golds, was that Kitajima flew all the way into Fort Lauderdale from Tokyo for 24 hours!! He arrived Saturday morning, and departed Sunday morning… Now that’s a feat!

BOB BOWMAN is considered one of the greatest coaches in swimming, ranking right up there with greats, George Haines and Doc Counsilman. Maybe better, who can say. The great thing for Bob’s induction was he was able to be inducted with not only his most successful swimmer, but also the swimmer he is closest with and considers family, Michael Phelps. So, the whole “family” in addition to a host of family and friends were in attendance to support Bowman’s induction into ISHOF. Bob currently coaches at Arizona State University where he has turned the program around to win its first Pac-12 Championship in the school history this past Spring.

MICHAEL PHELPS being inducted with his Coach BOB BOWMAN was great for both of them. This way they could induct one another, as no one could have possibly meant more in their careers. Bob talking about the blended family where Michael’s kids call him Grandpa was a touching note. And everyone got even more more excited when MP announced that Nicole will be adding their fourth boy to the Phelps family soon. In addition to Bob, Michael’s mother Debbie, and wife Nicole, came out to help induct him.

SAM RAMSAMY of Durban, South Africa was inducted on Saturday evening as this year’s Honor Contributor for ISHOF. Ramsamy is the First Vice President for World Aquatics and spent his life working toward the birth of a new South Africa, as well as fighting for the eradication of the color ban in sport, advocating for the selection of teams based on merit and not the color of one’s skin. Ramsamy was also friend to South African leader Nelson Mandela, where he was part of the organizing committee for his inauguration. We were honored to have Sam join us all the way from Durban with his busy schedule. Dale Neuburger, friend and Treasurer of World Aquatics was on hand to induct Mr. Sam Ramsamy.

TRISCHA ZORN has twice as many medals than any other Olympian or Paralympian that has ever competed. Let that sink in for a minute. Yes, that means twice as many as Michael Phelps. Trischa’s first Paralympic Games was in 1980 and she continued competing through 2004. An astounding 24 years! More than her medals though, Trischa is happier with what she has accomplished out of the pool, pushing boundaries and creating firsts for all Paralympians. After college, Trischa attended law school, and she now works for the VA, helping Veterans. And tonight she is the first Paralympian to ever be inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Trischa was inducted by her coach, Richard Wolford, and joined by her proud husband, Brian Hudson.

All in all, the 58th annual induction was a great event. If you were not able to attend in person, remember, you can watch it on ESPN+ on demand through the beginning of December.

We want to give a big shout and thank you to all who worked so hard to make this event such a success: The Group from Team Horner, Maria de le Pena, Colby Coppola, Kim Guerrera and their Marketing crew, Edison and Nina Rumbos, Kim Kent, Diane McMillen, Casey McGovern and all the staff at Horner who worked on this. A special thank you to John Lohn who helped with a lot of the writing and proofing, and to Lee Gladstone and Jim Stump for the video work. It turned out fabulous. And especially to our brother, historian and curator, Bruce Wigo, you not only are an amazing historian, but if the sports networks ever see you live, we’re going to lose you for sure!! You did an absolutely fabulous job filling in when Dara was off stage. You definitely missed your calling! Thank you to the ISHOF Board of Directors, including Bill Kent, Mike Dooley, Steve Hasty, David Arluck…..some of you helped in different ways, and we appreciate what you did to help make this event come together. And to all of those who we may have forgotten, thank you for your help in making this weekend a success.

A very special thank you to two men who helped behind the scenes and made things happen and without whom I don’t think this induction would have been as successful as it was. Mike Unger and Alex Blavatnik. Alex, your generosity knows no bounds and I hope one day, you can become a member of the ISHOF Board again. And Mike, your friendship and dedication to the sport of swimming and all of aquatics is something that we all benefit from. Thank you.

Thank you to those of you who donated to the Silent Auction, without you, we would not have a silent auction! We had so many great items this year, thank to so many. Again thank you to everyone at Horner, Maria and her crew, Kim, Diane, Brandi West, Cullen Jones, Mary T., the Atlanta Braves, Matt Lois, and so many others that help make it a success every year!

And lastly, a very special thank you to the City of Fort Lauderdale, to Mayor Dean Trantalis and Commissioner Steve Glassman, our partners in aquatics, as well as Laura Voet, the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Center Manager. Without the City’s support, we could not do what we do, or move on to the next exciting phase of ISHOF, which we are all looking forward to.

We bid you fairwell, until next Fall; Get your nominations in, so we can make sure your favorite swimmers and other aquatic athletes are on the ISHOF ballot for 2023/2024 and have a chance to be voted on for the ISHOF Class of 2024!

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