Friday, July 21, 2017

International Swimming Hall of Fame Launches New Designation for Swim Schools to Encourage Lessons for Children as Early as Six Months Old

Olympian Amanda Beard’s Beard Swim Co. Selected as First Swim School to be Recognized

Fort Lauderdale, FL (July 19, 2017) – The International Swimming Hall of Fame today announced a
new designation called “More Than Water,” to recognize swim schools in a nationwide effort to educate and encourage parents to start swim lessons for their children as early as six months old. Based on extensive global research and conclusive evidence from countries like Australia, there are clear physical, emotional, social and intellectual benefits of learning to swim for children under five years old. Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard’s Beard Swim Co., which celebrates its Grand Opening in Gig Harbor, Washington today, will become the first swim school in the United States to earn the designation and be recognized for aligning with these core principles.

“The new guidelines are meant to bring attention to swimming as a life skill that not only makes kids healthier and happier, but also advances their development and opens the door to a big world of experiences,” said International Swimming Hall of Fame Executive Director Bruce Wigo. “We chose to recognize the Beard Swim Co. first since Amanda has always embraced this philosophy and now as a swim school operator, she has the opportunity to create programs that get more kids in the water sooner.”

“We created Beard Swim Co. with the belief that the ability to swim is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child,” said Beard. “Swimming remains a huge part of my life and as a mother of two young children, I know the benefits of learning to swim firsthand. We’re thrilled to be recognized by the International Swimming Hall of Fame and feel lucky for the opportunity to work with children of all ages in the pool.”

“More than Water” is based on six key beliefs, including:

1. Swimming makes kids happier, healthier, stronger, smarter, more curious and safer.
2. Kids can start swimming lessons as early as six months old.
3. Kids who learn to swim before the age of 5 are often months or years ahead of their same age     peers in both cognitive and motor skills.
4. Swimming opens the door to many lifelong recreational and occupational opportunities that aren’t available for those who can’t swim.
5. Swimming can save your life or help you save the life of another.
6. Swimming is more than a sport, it’s a life skill.

A 2013 research study  conducted by Dr. Robyn Jorgensen in Australia found children who participate in early-years swimming appear to achieve many milestones earlier than the normal population regardless of social background or gender. On average, children who swam before the age of five experienced advanced physical, cognitive and language development and were 11 months ahead of the normal population in oral expression, six months ahead in mathematics reasoning, 17 months ahead in story recall and 20 months ahead in understanding directions.

The “More than Water” campaign was launched in part by a generous donation from Beard Swim Co. partner, Aqua Sphere, the premier swimming equipment manufacturer for swim training and workouts, competitive swimming, fitness swimming, aquatic exercise, and more. The campaign is supported by additional Beard Swim Co. partners, Aqua Spas & Pools, Aqua Creek Products and SoCozy.

The International Swimming Hall of Fame will also fund learn to swim initiatives for families in need through the “More Than Water” campaign. Parents can access more information about the campaign, detailed guidelines on what to look for in a swim school, or make donations to support learn to swim initiatives by visiting

About International Swimming Hall of Fame
The International Swimming Hall of Fame is a not-for-profit educational organization located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The organization’s mission is to promote the benefits and importance of swimming as a key to fitness, good health, quality of life, and the water safety of children. For more information, go to

About Beard Swim Co.
Based in Gig Harbor, Washington, Beard Swim Co.’s goal is to provide students with the proficiency and confidence needed to safely immerse themselves in the aquatic environments and activities they will encounter throughout life. Beard Swim Co. partners include Aqua Sphere, Aqua Spas & Pools, Aqua Creek Products and SoCozy. For more information or to book swim lessons, visit

About Aqua Sphere
Established in Genoa, Italy, in 1998, Aqua Sphere is the premier swimming equipment manufacturer for fitness and recreational swimming, aquatic exercise and triathlons. With the launch of its cutting-edge Seal Mask—the world’s first swim mask, the company set the industry standard and today continues to innovate with a complete range of premium products, including eye protection, swimwear, triathlon wetsuits, footwear, and swim fitness and training accessories. The designs have gained the respect and loyal following of many celebrities and notable athletes, including the world’s most decorated Olympian Michael Phelps and Olympian Amanda Beard. Alongside its parent company Aqua Lung and supported by an international distribution network, Aqua Sphere has grown into a worldwide enterprise representing unparalleled design, development and manufacturing expertise, with a global footprint in more than 60 countries. For more information, visit or

Media contact:
Katrina Younce for ISHOF and Beard Swim Co.
T: 310-995-3619

Thursday, July 6, 2017


FORT LAUDERDALE – The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF), recognized by FINA, the international governing body for the Olympic aquatic sports as its official Hall of Fame, is proud to announce that Laurie Lawrence, a legendary swimming coach, entrepreneur, internationally renowned water safety advocate, will receive the organization’s Gold Medallion Award at ceremonies to be held in Fort Lauderdale, August 25-27, 2017.
“The purpose of the Gold Medallion Award is to provide positive role models for today’s youth,” said Bruce Wigo, ISHOF President/CEO.  “While Laurie Lawrence is a legend in the world of competitive swimming as a coach, he is less well known for his many entrepreneurial talents and the work he has done in collaboration with the government of Australia in the field of water safety and drowning prevention.  
His swimmers set over seventeen world records, and he coached Aussie teams to three Commonwealth Games and three Olympic Games. For these efforts, Laurie was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an honor coach in 1996.
Beyond his career in coaching he is many other things too - he is an extroverted entrepreneur, a patriot, poet, singer, humorist, best-selling author, dedicated family man and the most sought after motivational speaker in Australia.
But by all accounts his greatest accomplishment has been in the promotion of swimming and preventing the tragedy of drowning through his internationally acclaimed Water Safety Programs.
As in America, Australia’s political parties are often at odds with one another, and it is rare indeed when the parties unite behind a single cause.  But with the help of Australian Prime Minister John Howard, Laurie was able to get the government to support his “Kids Alive” and “Living with Water” drowning prevention programs.  Programs that provide the parents of every newborn child in his country with an educational packet of information about the importance of being water safe and learning to swim.
The program developed a Kids Alive website, bolstered by community service advertising and the Kids Alive Water Safety Show, the biggest touring free show in Australia. Not only has the show visit metropolitan areas, but country towns and even remote communities — to the entertainment and education of hundreds of thousands of Australian children.  
In addition to operating a chain of successful swim schools, Laurie also partnered with dataSolutions, to pioneer the design and build out of the world’s first cloud-based LMS (Learning Management System) that delivers unparalleled online training for swim instructors through his “World-Wide Swim School.”
Laurie attributes his early exposure to swimming and sports for providing him with the lessons and tools that have rewarded him with success as a coach, a multi-faceted entrepreneur and happiness in life. “Things of value,” he says, “don’t come by luck, they’re won by pain, persistence and sacrifices and success is the celebration of your preparation.”
ISHOF’s Gold Medallion has been conferred annually since 1983 upon an individual who has been a competitive swimmer, diver, water polo player or synchronized swimmer - who has achieved national or international recognition for accomplishments in the fields of science, government, entertainment, business or education, and whose life serves as a positive role model for youth. Past recipients of the award include: US President Ronald Reagan, US Senator Barry Goldwater, US Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young, H.S.H. Prince Albert of Monaco, Businessman and Secretary of the Treasury William E. Simon and Olympic and Baseball boss, Peter Ueberroth.  Lawrence will become the fifth recipient to also be in the Hall of Fame, joining, scientist Dr. James E. “Doc” Counsilman, journalist and gender equity pioneer Donna deVarona, entertainer Esther Williams, and businessman and water safety advocate Adolph Kiefer.
Others to be honored with the Class of 2017 include open water swimmer Maarten Van Der Weijden, swimmers Wu Chuanyu (CHN), Takeshi “Halo” Hirose (USA), Georges Vallerey, Jr. (FRA), Alain Bernard (FRA), Leisel Jones (AUS), Laure Manaudou (FRA) and Ian Crocker (USA), divers Zhang Xiuwei (CHN) and Laura Wilkinson (USA), long distance swimmer Walter Poenisch (USA), water polo players Osvaldo Codaro (ARG), András Bodnár (HUN) and Bridgette Gusterson (AUS), synchronized swimmer Anastasia Davydova (RUS), coach Dick Jochums (USA) and photojournalist Heinz Kluetmeier (USA).

For tickets or additional information, please call Meg Keller-Marvin at (570) 594-4367 or ISHOF at (954) 462-6536, or visit

About the ISHOF
The International Swimming Hall of Fame & Museum, was established in 1965 as a not-for-profit educational organization in the City of Fort Lauderdale, Florida and was recognized by FINA, the international governing body for the Olympic aquatic sports, in 1968. The Mission of ISHOF is to PRESERVE and CELEBRATE aquatic history, to EDUCATE the general public about the importance of swimming as the key to water safety, drowning prevention, better health and a better quality of life, and to INSPIRE everyone to swim. ISHOF’s collection of swimming memorabilia, art, photos and films, along with archival documents and rare books in the Henning Library, make ISHOF the premier repository and academic research resource for swimming and aquatic history in the world.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Conference on Near-Death Experiences while Drowning

FT. LAUDERDALE, FL: The International Swimming Hall of Fame will host a fascinating and visionary “Conference on Near-Death Experiences While Drowning”, on Friday, August 18th, 2017. Since its inception in 1965, ISHOF has been the "Mecca of Aquatics," bringing together many fascinating people and acting as the facilitator for knowledge exchange. This conference aims to bring attention to near-death experiences during a drowning episode, a very important issue largely neglected by most aquatic safety professionals.
I could see, floating in the air, the lifeguards attempting to resuscitate a lifeless body; it was mine.”I saw a bright light that asked me, in a life review, what I have done in my life for love and learning.”I felt peace and no fear of death.” These are the words of people reporting what they experienced during the time they “died” temporarily during a drowning episode, as reported by Holden and Avramidis in their book Near-Death Experiences While Drowning. Such Reports are termed near-death experiences (NDEs). Contemporary advances in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and defibrillation have enabled lifeguards and first responders to bring large numbers of victims back to life, heretofore unprecedented in human history. Of the millions of those who survive drowning each year, approximately 20% of survivors report NDEs.
Often when victims report their NDEs to health care providers and first responders, due to lack of information, the confidantes may label the experience or experiencer as pathological. However, research shows no relationship between NDEs and mental disorder. When a Near Death Experience is discounted, it becomes psychologically disconcerting to survivors. Similarly, the survivors or their families may believe that the experiencers have lost touch with reality. Presenters at this conference will discuss NDE characteristics that a successfully resuscitated drowning casualty might report; provide a sample of drowning NDE accounts; offer recommendations for how water safety and other healthcare professionals can use NDE related information in their work; and, include a poster session open to any water safety- and aquatic-related professional to provide information relevant to drowning in terms of prevention, rescue, and treatment. This conference will provide a day of insight into this unique phenomenon, along with providing useful professional information for first responders and medical personnel.
Conference presenters include: Bruce Wigo¸ J.D., ISHOF President and CEO, discussing the importance of hosting a conference on Drowning Related NDEs; Stathis Avramidis, DipEd, BEd, MSc, MPH, PhD, Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Seasonal Instructor of Applied Lifeguarding and Lifesaving Sport at the University of Athens, Greece, Greece, who will discuss the "NDE Mnemonic" and NDE Protocol": Two Useful Tools for Lifeguards; Dr. Janice Miner Holden, Professor of Counseling and Chair of the Department of Counseling and Higher Education, University of North Texas (UNT), who will present, “Near-Death Experiences: An Overview of 40 Years of Research”. Other speakers include: Audrey C. Dalton, survivor of a drowning incident who will recount her Near Death Experience; John Spannuth, President and CEO, United States Water Fitness Association who will discuss the Importance of Swimming and Lifeguard Lessons; and Aquatics and Drowning Prevention professional Kim Burgess, who will discuss why learning about drowning is informative to Aquatic Safety Professionals, First Responders and Survivor Families.
Conference information can be found online at Conference registration is available on the ISHOF website. Luncheon and refreshments are included in the conference fees. Please note in addition to conference fees, City of Ft. Lauderdale parking fees will apply for all parking facilities, including the International Swimming Hall of Fame. All fees act as a donation to the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

About the International Swimming Hall of Fame
The International Hall of Fame, established in 1965, is a not-for-profit educational organization located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Its mission is to promote the benefits and importance of swimming as a key to fitness, good health, quality of life, and the water safety of all adults and children. It accomplishes this through operation of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, a dynamic shrine dedicated to preserving the history of swimming, the memory and recognition of the famous swimmers, divers, water polo players, synchronized swimmers and people involved in life saving activities and education whose lives and accomplishments inspire, educate, and provide role models for people around the world. For more information contact Bruce Wigo at 954-462-6536 ext. 201, or by email
To learn more about the International Swimming Hall of Fame participants and activities or to donate, please visit:

Friday, May 12, 2017


Fort Lauderdale –  Sponsored by Pentair Aquatic Systems, the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) announced today the recipients of the 22nd Annual Paragon Awards.  The Paragon Awards are presented annually to individuals or organizations for outstanding contributions to aquatics in six categories. This year’s recipients are Ron Van Pool for Competitive Swimming; Terry Sayring for Water Polo, Linda Paul for Competitive Diving;  The National Swimming Pool Foundation for Aquatic Safety; Stefania Tudini (ITA) for Synchronized Swimming and Juliene Hefter for Recreational Swimming. This year’s awards will be presented on Friday evening August 25, 2017, in ceremonies at the International Swimming Hall of Fame, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA.

“Pentair is honored to be associated with the International Swimming Hall of Fame and to recognize leaders in the aquatic industry who play a prominent role in the promotion of aquatics”, said Jim Drozdowski, Institutional Aquatics Sales Manager for Pentair Aquatic Systems.

“The annual Paragon Awards bring some of the most interesting and fascinating people each year to the Hall of Fame,” said ISHOF President/CEO Bruce Wigo. “These are the unsung heroes who make competitive and recreational aquatics possible, who save lives, who promote water safety and further aquatic education. “
The Paragon Awards are part of ISHOF’s 53rd Annual Hall of Fame Honoree Weekend, August 25-27.
For ticket information visit or call 954-462-6536.  For more information about the Paragon Awards, see:

About Pentair Aquatic Systems: Pentair Aquatic Systems is a world-wide leader in the manufacture of residential and commercial swimming pool equipment including PARAGON™ Competitive Starting Platforms, which have been the leader in innovation, design and quality for over 50 years. Pentair is a proud sponsor of the ISHOF “Paragon Awards” since 1996. For more information about the Paragon Awards, see:

About ISHOF:  The International Hall of Fame, founded in 1965 and recognized by FINA, the international governing body for aquatic sports, is a not-for-profit educational organization. Its mission is to Preserve swimming history, Celebrate the heroes and to Educate the public about the benefits and importance of swimming as a key to water safety, fitness, good health, quality of life; and to Inspire Swimming For All, Swimming For Life! and “Every Child A Swimmer™” . For more information about ISHOF, see

About this years Paragon Award Recipients:

Competitive Diving
Linda Paul (USA)
Linda Paul has been a part of USA Diving for more than 16 years. She joined the organization as Director of Business Development in 2001 and since has been involved in nearly every aspect of the organization, from managing USA diving teams in international competitions and events, to coordinating sponsorship services and serving as a liaison between the national office and the U.S. Olympic Committee.  In 2010 she was named President and CEO of the organization, leading a return to the podium in both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.  She announced her retirement in 2017, and will be remembered for assisting in the growth and success of the organization through many challenges.

Synchronized Swimming
Stefania Tudini (ITA)
Stefania Tudini has served on the FINA Technical Synchronized Swimming Committee (TSSC) since 1992 and has been their chairman since 2009. She was also the chairman of the LEN TSSC and was honored by them for her years of service. “Cicci” is the director of Synchronized Swimming for the Italian Swimming Federation. Participation in the sport has grown exponentially in Italy under her leadership.

Water Polo
Terry Sayring (USA)
Terry started officiating Water Polo in 1963 and has officiated over 6,000 games, including FINA World Championships, FINA World Cups, FINA Jr. World Championships, Pan American Games, NCAA Championships and AAU National Championships. He was the manager of the 1980 and 1984 USA Water Polo Olympic Teams and was the competition manager for the 1996 Olympic Games. He was elected into the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame in 1986 and received the USA Water Polo Award in 1988, the organization’s highest honor.  In 2015, he founded American Water Polo Collections, Inc. a California non-profit dedicated to preserve the history of water polo in America.  

Competitive Swimming 
Ron Van Pool (USA)
Ron Van Pool has been a volunteer for USA Swimming for the past 30 years, serving as an official at high level meets such as the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Trials. He was elected to the USA Swimming Board of Directors in 1998 and served as President from 2002-2006.  Ron also served as the USA Swimming representative to the USOC and the National Governing Body Council for over 10 years. He was also a member of the USSIC Board of Directors from 2002 to 2014.He was the founding director of USA Swimming Foundation in 2004 and has served on the Foundation BOD since 2010. In addition to serving on several committees, including International Relations and Task Forces , including Governance and the CEO Search, in which he is the chair. In 2013, he received the USA Swimming Award, considered to be USA Swimming’s highest honor.

Recreational Swimming
Juliene Hefter (USA)
Juliene has a long and illustrious career in aquatics and park and recreation administration. She has been the Deputy Director for the Wisconsin Park & Recreation Association for the past 8 years and is the Executive Director/CEO for the Association of Aquatic Professionals. The AAP is a non-profit corporation that exclusively promotes and advocates policies, practices and procedures that contribute to safer and improved aquatic education, aquatic recreation activities, programs, and facilities; provides and supports quality aquatic education opportunities; coordinates and conducts research in the field of aquatic management and safety; promotes coordination and cooperation between established aquatic associations responsible for all aspects of aquatic programming, aquatic management, aquatic operation and maintenance and aquatic facility design, as well as providing and annual conference and educational workshops for communities on drowning prevention and education.

Water Safety: 
The National Swimming Pool Foundation’s Step Into Swim™ Campaign
In 2012, The National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF) introduced its Step Into Swim™ program, a 10-year, learn-to-swim initiative to create 1 million more swimmers in an effort to improve public health and reduce drowning by teaching children, adults and minority populations to swim. The campaign asks aquatic businesses, associations, and the public sector to sponsor organizations that are already teaching people to swim. To help the public and private sector understand the importance of learning to swim, the NSPF issued a white paper, which explains the benefits of creating more swimmers, and how more people swimming can relieve increasing healthcare costs propelled by physical inactivity, an aging society and troublingly high drowning rates.

Monday, March 20, 2017


World Record Holder At 17, World Champion at 18

FORT LAUDERDALE - The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) sadly reports that Andy
Coan has passed away after a long illness in a Hospice facility in Boca Raton. He was 60 years old. In 1975, at 17 years of age, while representing the Pine Crest High School and swimming for ISHOF Honor Coach Jack Nelson, he broke Jim Montgomery’s 12-day old world-record in the 100 meter freestyle.

Later that year, Coan won three gold medals representing the USA at the 1975 FINA World Aquatics Championships in Cali, Colombia, as a member of the 4 x 100m freestyle, the 4 x 100m medley relays and an individual gold in the 100m freestyle. He continued his winning run at the 1975 United States National Swimming Championships, where he won the 100m free.

After graduation from Pine Crest in 1976, Coan attended the University of Tennessee on a swimming scholarship. At UT he won seven NCAA Championships, including the 50 and the 100 freestyle twice.

Andy missed two opportunities to compete in the Olympic Games. He came up short in 1976 and then shortly after the 1979 championships, Mr. Coan suffered broken wrists in an automobile accident. Despite wrist bones held together by two metal plates and nearly a dozen screws, he lost the 100 and 200 free to Gaines in 1980 but pulled off a surprising win over Gaines in the 50. When the Carter Olympic boycott was announced he chose not to participate in the post Olympic Trials.

Until health issues prevented him from doing so, Andy could be found on the pool deck helping Sid Cassidy and Jay Fitzgerald coach their teams at the Saint Andrews School and at his alma mater, Pine Crest.

He was diagnosed with Guilain Barre disease several years ago and had gone from total paralysis to a point where he was able to travel to Santa Clara, California for a reunion of the USA’s 1975 World Championship team, organized by the ISHOF.  But then came a battle against liver cancer that ultimately took his life.

“Andy was a great friend of swimming and the Pine Crest School,” said the schools coach, Jay Fitzgerald.  “He was always generous with his time and always positive - even through all his health issues. He will be missed.”

Coan still holds the Pine Crest School records for the 50y and 100y freestyle at 20.19 and 43.99 respectively, dating to 1975.  Amazingly, times that would have won the 2016 state titles, with-out a tech suit or underwater starts and turns.

Andy leaves behind his 13 year-old son Richard and his girlfriend, Karen Britton, who faithfully stood by him through all of his health problems.

A memorial service is being planned to take place at the ISHOF, in Fort Lauderdale in late April.  

The International Hall of Fame, established in 1965, is a not-for-profit educational organization located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Its mission is to promote the benefits and importance of swimming as a key to fitness, good health, quality of life, and the water safety of all adults and children.  It accomplishes this through operation of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, a dynamic shrine dedicated to preserving the history of swimming, the memory and recognition of the famous swimmers, divers, water polo players, synchronized swimmers and people involved in life saving activities and education whose lives and accomplishments inspire, educate, and provide role models for people around the world. For more information contact Bruce Wigo at 954-462-6536 ext. 201, or by email