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Grande Dame Award



Ever since moving to Fort Lauderdale in 1968, The Hall of Fame Dames have been a special part of Sherrill Nelson’s life in and around aquatics. Her volunteer service has been outstanding, culminating as President of the Dames during her busy schedule.


While growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, Sherrill learned to swim in Hall of Famer Dave Robertson’s program at New Trier High School in Wilmette, Illinois. She did some synchronized swimming and, for a time, swam at the Town Club in Chicago under the direction of another Hall of Fame coach, the renowned Walt Schlueter. During high school she was a lifeguard and taught swimming at Tam-O-Shanter Country Club.


Sherrill moved to Connecticut where she taught and coached the tadpoles and minnows at the New Canaan YMCA for 6 years. In 1968 she moved to Florida with her first husband, three children and pregnant with her fourth child. The children began swimming at Pine Crest in Fort Lauderdale and Sherrill started coaching and teaching for Hall of Fame coach, Jack Nelson. Sherrill and Jack were married in 1973.


Her mentor and best friend in swimming became Alice Kempthorne, The Hall of Fame’s Grand Dame of 1998. Under Alice’s and Jack’s wings, Sherrill traveled with and managed many AAU, USS and USA swimming teams. Her first AAU national championship meet was held in Louisville, Kentucky with world record holder Andy Coan. Her first international meet to Japan was with Head Manager Alice Kempthorne. Even though Sherrill was not an official manager, Alice welcomed her as an unofficial part of the staff. Sherrill has been Assistant Manager to two World Championship Meets in Australia, (1991, 1998) and Head Manager for two Pan American Games swimming teams in Caracas and Indianapolis, (1983, 1987). She has taken teams to Brazil, Canada, Barcelona and Mallorca, Spain, Monte Carlo, France, Mexico, Denmark, New Zealand, Italy, Sweden and her favorite place of all, Bermuda. She has been a local, national and international meet director for the past 20 years. She was Secretary of the Florida Gold Coast local swimming association, Chairman of United States Swimming’s Scholastic All American Committee, and has served on the Awards Committee for many years. Women In Swimming honored her in 1998 at the United States Aquatic Sports Convention.


Sherrrill is known throughout the aquatics world as an efficient hard worker from beginning to end. She has filled the many roles of mother, friend, director, manager, administrator and the hardest job of all, Coach’s wife.

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