ISHOF Hosts Friday Night Specialty Awards in addition to ISHOF Aquatic Awards

In addition to the ISHOF Aquatic Awards, presnted by AquaCal, ISHOF also presented their annual (ISHOF) Specialty Awards.  The ISHOF Specialty Awards are presented annually to individuals for outstanding contributions to aquatics.  This year there were a host of amazing recipients in addition to the Aquatic Awards recipients.

The 2023 Buck Dawson Authors Award –Tom Gompf and Elaine K. Howley

The 2023 Buck Dawson Authors Award went to Tom Gompf for his life story, “A Life Aloft”, and Elaine Howley, who helped write it for him.

Tom Gompf: A Life Aloft is a memoir from 1964 Olympic bronze medalist and 2002 ISHOF Honoree Thomas Gompf. The book tells of Gompf’s life as a world-class diver and lifelong champion of the sport while also reflecting on his experiences as a wartime and commercial pilot. Gompf won the bronze medal in the 10-meter platform diving event at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Gompf later became head diving coach at the University of Miami, where simultaneously, he  enjoyed a 30-year career as a commercial pilot, a job which came in handy as he traveled the world as a member of FINA, the international organization that governs aquatic sports, now called World Aquatics.

Elaine K. Howley. A Life Aloft was co-written with Elaine K. Howley, an award-winning freelance journalist and editor based in Boston, Massachusetts. A southern New Jersey native, Howley holds a Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and a Master’s degree in Publishing and Writing from Emerson College in Boston. Howley, a lifelong swimmer herself, previously served as Publications Manager for United States Masters Swimming and Managing Editor of SWIMMER Magazine.

About Buck Dawson: Dawson was a veteran of WWII who served as assistant and publicist for Generals Gavin and Ridgeway in the 82nd Airborne. From the time he was chosen to lead ISHOF in 1962, until his death in 2008, Buck traveled the world armed with Hall of Fame brochures, books, and bumper stickers. He was always spreading the word, and always willing to talk and teach swimming and swimming history to anyone who would listen. He wrote hundreds of articles and was the author of eight books, ranging in subjects from bathing beauties to war, but especially swimming.

2023 International Swimming Hall of Fame Service Award — Laura Voet

Laura Voet has done so much for ISHOF and the Hall of Fame Aquatic Center, beyond her regular job and just for people in general, we felt this award was long over due. So, the ISHOF staff gave Laura the 2023 ISHOF Service Award.  The ISHOF Service Award is given to an individual who has selflessly volunteered their time, energy, and resources to advance the interests and work of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Laura Voet has easily given over 30 years of her time, energy, ideas and skills to the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF).  She came to Fort Lauderdale in 1990, as a graduate of both the University of Indiana and Buck Dawson’s Camp Ak-O-Mak. The Oregonian soon made Fort Lauderdale her home, and she began working at the ISHOF museum, eventually moved over to the Aquatic Center where she became an Assistant Manager along side future husband, Mark Voet and Manager, Stu Marvin, where the three of them ran the greatest aquatic events in the United States. In 2004, Laura was named manager of the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex, now the Aquatic Center, and after years of planning, the beautiful new upgraded Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Center will always be Laura Voet’s legacy. No one knows the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Center inside and out like Laura Voet does. She was there every single day, and every step of the way during the construction process, both learning and documenting it for the future. And for all her many kindnesses, talents and knowledge, ISHOF will always be eternally grateful.

2023 Judge G. Harold Martin Award — Norman Taplin

Norman Taplin was named the recipient of the 2023 Judge G. Harold Martin Award.  The G. Harold Martin Award is presented to someone for their long and exceptional leadership, insight, and dedication to the water safety of children and the cause of making “Every Child A Swimmer”.

ISHOF Chairman of the Board, Bill Kent met Norman Taplin through a friend in early 2020 when Kent started the campaign to pass the Every Child A Swimmer (ECAS) legislation in Florida.  Taplin is a lobbyist in the insurance industry, based in Palm Beach County, with offices and personnel in 15 states.  He immediately introduced Kent to two Florida Senators who were key in getting the ECAS bill into the committee process.  Kent says, “It wouldn’t have gotten through on that side of the legislature without Norm opening the door.”  After the Florida bill passed, Kent asked if he could help in other states.  Taplin proactively introduced the ECAS team to key people in both Georgia and Arkansas where legislation was recently passed in both states.  On May 4, 2023, the ECAS team travelled to Atlanta to witness the signing of the Legislation, and on May 24, 2023, they went to Little Rock to do the same. Norm is already helping the ECAS group start similar campaigns in several other key states for passage in 2024.  

About G. Harold Martin: Back in 1908, G. Harold Martin almost drowned in the Ohio River. Over the next two decades he almost drowned two more times. From these experiences evolved a mission to make “Every Child A Swimmer.” His civic involvement led to the building of Fort Lauderdale’s first municipal pool in 1927. Kiwanian sponsored free swim lessons at the pool, and eventually influenced the decision by ISHOF to be located in Fort Lauderdale. An active Kiwanian his entire adult life, he was instrumental in making the Key Club an integral club within Kiwanis International and the adoption of Every Child A Swimmer as a Kiwanian project.

2023 Virginia Hunt Newman International Award — Amanda Gawthrope

Amanda Gawthrope is the recipient of the Virginia Hunt Newman International Award for 2023.

Infant aquatics has been Amanda Gawthrope’s life calling and she has taught thousands of parents and babies, as well as young children all over the world since the late 1990’s. First, through Birthlight, a training scheme for teachers, parents and children based in Cambridge, England and then under her own initiative. Teaching ‘swimming better’ has been and still is her life and passion.
She has done much for the development of infant aquatics since the early 1990’s. Amanda’s philosophy and inspiration started growing more rapidly after attending the World Aquatic Babies and Children (WABC) conference in Buenos Aires (2001) where she met many wonderful, professional and inspirational teachers from around the world.

Amanda has spent many years teaching children and their parents ‘swimming better’ in different countries, particularly Russia and China. While in those two countries, she also devoted part of her time to coaching children with disabilities; a group that often gets overlooked in countries like these. Amanda has always had an affection for special babies and toddlers.

She has been vocal and practical in the need to develop compromises that lead to ‘child-led swimming’ rather than focus on a baby sensory approach that avoids the challenges of submersion. Playful parent submersion and teaching by imitation appealing to infants’ sense of humor have been unique strengths in Amanda’s teaching throughout her life. Amanda believes “A lack of compromise risks pushing parents to water survival skills, which is a great loss to everyone and misrepresents gentle/happy infant aquatics”, which was the message of Virginia Hunt Newman.

2023 John K. Williams, Jr. International Adapted Aquatics Award — Gail Dummer

Gail Dummer is the 2023 recipient of the John K. Williams, Jr. International Adapted Aquatics Award. The annual award, honoring individuals or organizations who have made significant and substantial contributions to the field of adaptive aquatics.

Gail has been engaged in sustained efforts to positively influence inclusion of swimmers with disabilities in competitive swimming throughout her career as teacher, coach, administrator, volunteer, researcher and swimmer.

Of special note are the three USOC grant-funded disability swimming camps she wrote and directed that were designed to facilitate the following changes: She encouraged the organizations to work together as swimmers first, and disability second. She involved USA Swimming in helping with the selection of athletes and the disabled sports organizations in selecting one coach and one coach-in-training to promote athletes in leadership roles. She made the USOTC to conduct swimming research using swimmers with disabilities as subjects. She was able to transfer the Paralympic selection process of athletes and coaches to USA Swimming and to pull a panel of disability experts and officials together to develop officiating guidelines in order to mainstream swimmers with a disability in USA Swimming meets.

Ms. Dummer has spent her career devoted to the advancement of athletes with disabilities and promoting activities that enable both the disabled and the able bodied the opportunity to learn how to train and coach these unique athletes.

2023 Al Schoenfield Media Award — John Lohn

John Lohn is the 2023 recipient of the Al Schoenfield Media Awarfor his outstanding contributions to the promotion of aquatic sports through journalism.  This award is presented by ISHOF in memory of Al Schoenfield.

John Lohn is the Editor-in-Chief of Swimming World Magazine and its website, He has covered the sport of swimming at the international level for more than 20 years, reporting from events such as the Olympic Games, World Championships, Pan Pacific Championships, United States Nationals and NCAA Championships. He has written five books on swimming, including Below the Surface, a 2021 publication which examines the history and top moments in the sport.

Lohn has written about every aspect within the pool, from historical figures to the background of competitive swimming. He takes a fascinating, in-depth look at the history of competitive swimming and the people and moments that have defined the sport in five books:

Below the Surface: The History of Competitive Swimming (2021); The 100 Greatest Swimmers in History (2018); The Most Memorable Moments in Olympic Swimming (2014); They Ruled the Pool: The 100 Greatest Swimmers in History (2013); Historical Dictionary of Competitive Swimming (2010);

Al Schoenfield was the Editor and Publisher of Swimming World Magazine (1960-1977) and served on various international committees of swimming, including the FINA Technical Swimming Committee (1980-1984).  Schoenfield’s life was a commitment to swimming and he participated in its administrative structure and spread its stories through his magazines and promotions.  Al died in 2005, but his legacy will forever endure to all who have benefited from his lifetime of service to swimming

2023 ISHOF Lifetime Achievement Award – Brent Rutemiller

Brent Rutemiller was initially a part of the Swimming World Magazine family as the creator of the Aquazoids, an educational animated series that has been printed in more than 150 countries, Rutemiller eventually joined Swimming World as its head of advertising. Over time, his influence grew, to the point where he ascended to publisher.

In his role as publisher, Rutemiller led a charge against doping in the sport, and fronted Swimming
World’s decision to strip several East German athletes of their world and regional swimmer of the year accolades. He also served as writer for the magazine, tackling critical issues such as doping, governance and mental health. His work was cited globally by television stations, newspapers, magazines and online outlets.

Before podcasts became popular, Rutemiller created The Morning Swim Show, an online TV series which interviewed some of the top names in the sport. More, Rutemiller oversaw the merger of Swimming World with the International Swimming Hall of Fame, as he recognized the importance of joining the two best-known entities in the sport. With Rutemiller at the helm, the Hall of Fame embarked on the development of a new museum and, in cooperation with the city of Fort Lauderdale, the construction of a new aquatics facility.

2023 Duraflex Diving Award Award – Melanie Beck (GBR)

Melanie Beck’s influence in diving is felt both in her country of Great Britian and in
Aquatics worldwide. Her administrative work for British Swimming enabled and supported
the sport of Diving to develop from a minority sport in GBR to the second most successful
Olympic discipline. Under her guidance and leadership five Olympic medals were achieved
in Tokyo and Rio, a rise of 500% from the London Games with the discipline now sitting just
behind China in the world rankings.

On the International stage Melanie has played a major role in managing and providing
guidance alongside the local organising committees at three Olympic Games as well eleven
World Championships and is currently event planning the Olympics in Paris 2024 and her
twelfth World Championships in Doha, Qatar in 2024 and Singapore in 2025.
She has served FINA in many capacities, including in 2007 she was named the Managing
Director of the FINA Diving World Series.
In 2009 Melanie was appointed to the FINA Technical Diving Committee and Convener of
the Events Sub-Committee. In 2022 she was appointed Secretary of the World Aquatics
Technical Diving Committee and will hold this position until 2025.

HIGH DIVING In 2015 Melanie was asked to serve as the Honorary Secretary of the newly
formed Technical High Diving Committee. High Diving became the sixth star of FINA and
was included into the World Championships in Barcelona. Melanie played a key role in this
complex transition for the new discipline and its athletes. As a member of the FINA High
Diving Commission, she continued to influence and provide the technical expertise until
2022. Her influence has been worldwide. She has travelled to all five continents promoting,
debating, teaching, and educating existing world-class judges and new judges commencing
their careers. She travels across the international circuit event managing, judging,
refereeing, evaluating but most of all enjoying passionately the sport she loves.

2023 Sammy Lee World Diver Award- Micki King (USA)

Micki King thrilled the world by winning the 1972 Olympic 3-meter Diving gold medal after
having lost the event in the Mexico City Olympic Games four years earlier due to a diving
mishap that resulted in a broken arm. Amazingly, Micki completed that event with the broken
arm before it was determined she needed the arm to be placed in a cast. Appropriately, Sports
Illustrated Magazine declared,” The Queen of Diving is King”.
Micki’s contribution to the World of Diving and the USA was as bright as her Olympic gold
medal. Determined to give back to the sport she loved and to the United States Air Force who
supported her Olympic quest, her list of accomplishments is truly amazing.
She was appointed to a Presidential Committee to study how Olympic sport can be better
managed which eventually led to the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act of 1978. She was
appointed Chairman of the first Athletes Advisory Committee to the United States Olympic
Committee. Micki was twice elected to the United States Olympian Organization as Vice
President and served in that position for eight years.

As a United States Air Force officer, Micki was assigned to the USAF Academy to develop the
introduction of women cadets to the academy, as well as coach the diving team. She became
the first woman to coach a man to an NCAA Diving Championship and was the first woman to
be appointed as an Air Force ROTC Detachment Commander. Micki was assigned to the
University of Kentucky, and after she retired from the USAF as a Cornel, she served as an
Assistant Athletic Director for several years at Kentucky.

She was one of the first women that worked in broadcasting and was the diving commentator
for ABC, in 1976, at the Montreal Olympic Games. Micki was voted President of USA Diving in 1990, was named manager of the United States Olympic Diving Team in 1988 (Seoul) and again in 1996 (Atlanta). She was elected to the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1978 and the United States Olympic Committee Hall of Fame in 1992 and tonight she becomes the first female recipient of the Sammy Lee World Diver Award.

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