Monday, March 20, 2017

ANDY COAN PASSES AWAY

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.  

ABOUT ISHOF
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 bwigo@ishof.org

Thursday, March 16, 2017

AMERICA’S IAN CROCKER - GREAT RIVAL OF MICHAEL PHELPS ELECTED TO THE HALL OF FAME

FIRST STATE OF MAINE SWIMMER TO SWIM IN THE OLYMPICS - HELD 100M FLY WORLD RECORD FOR SIX YEARS


FORT LAUDERDALE - The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF)
Crocker in Omaha at Olympic
 Trials 2016 (credit Kurt Keeler)
 announced that America’s Ian Crocker will join 16 others as honorees who will enter the International Swimming Hall of Fame as the Class of 2017. Crocker is the final name to be announced to the class that will be honored in ceremonies to be held August 25-27, in Fort Lauderdale. Previously, 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) and Laure Manaudou (FRA), 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) have been announced.

Crocker, with music producer Jim Thompson
and Ryan Lochte (credit Jim Thompson)
Ian Lowell Crocker is one of the greatest butterfliers in history, but he didn't exactly grow up in a swimming hotbed. He was born August 31, 1982, in Portland, Maine, a state that has more than 35,000 square miles, yet not one Olympic-sized pool. The pool at the Portland elementary school where he somehow developed his Olympic aspirations was not much more than a 25 yards-long “hole in the ground.”  His parents recognized early on that their son suffered from a learning disorder and they felt it was necessary to have him involved in activities that would give him self-esteem outside of academics and keep him well rounded.  So Crocker jumped into to the pool, pursued playing the guitar and when he grew old enough to drive, developed an interest in cars. 

In 1997, he broke onto the national age group scene with a 13-14 US National record in the 200m freestyle. The next year he became the first U.S. 15-year old to break 1:50 for the 200m free and finished fourth at the 1998 USA Swimming Summer Nationals.  The next year, at the same meet he finished 23rd in the 100m butterfly and people started telling him that if he wanted to be an Olympic swimmer, he'd have to leave the state and train in a bigger pool. But he had enormous talent, desire and was blessed with a coach, Sharon Power, who knew what she was doing.

As a 17-year old, Crocker had entered the 2000 US Olympic Trials with a view to gain experience for 2004, but he left the meet winning the 100m fly and breaking Matt Biondi’s Trials record in the process.  In Sydney, he finished fourth, but broke Neil Walker’s American record and was a member of the USA’s 4 x 100m medley relay that captured the gold.

Now swimming for Eddie Reece, at the University of Texas, Crocker won  the 100y fly at the NCAAs and claimed the silver medal in the event at the FINA World Championships.  But at the 2002 Phillips Nationals in Fort Lauderdale, 17-year old Michael Phelps rallied in the final yards of the 100m fly to best Crocker and claim the American record.  Thus began an incredible rivalry that would last through the Beijing Olympic Games and become the subject of a behind the scenes, feature-length documentary film released in 2005, “Unfiltered: Michael Phelps & Ian Crocker - The Story Behind Their Rivalry.”  

At the 2003 FINA World Championships, Crocker watched Phelps break the world record in the preliminaries of the 100m butterfly, but Crocker came back to win the gold and set his first individual World Record in the finals, becoming the first in history to break 51 seconds. Phelps was reportedly so bothered that he tore Crocker’s photograph from a magazine and hung it in his bedroom as a motivator.

At their next confrontation in Santa Clara, in the early summer of 2004, Phelps came out on top. But at the 2004 Olympic Trials, Crocker got revenge, easily beating a tired Phelps (swimming in the last of his 17 races) and lowered his own world record to 50.76.  He also qualified to swim in the 100m free, finishing second behind Jason Lezak.

Their race in Athens was ridiculously close, with Phelps taking the gold, with brilliant touch at the wall that had become his trademark and a time of 51.25 to Crocker’s 51.29 seconds.  But be-fore the race, it was clear that Crocker had not been feeling well or swimming well. In his first swim, he had a dreadful first leg of the 400m freestyle relay that left the team in dead last and having to struggle to get the bronze medal.  In his individual 100m free race, he failed to even get past the preliminaries. In fact he suffered from a sore throat when he arrived at the Olympic village. Finishing second in the butterfly had also knocked him off the relay, which he had been a part of since 2000.  But in a magnanimous gesture of grace and sportsmanship, Michael Phelps
2004 OG: Crocker, with teammates Aaron Peirsol and
Brendan Hansen (credit Donald Miralle)
 stunned the swimming world by giving up his medley spot to Crocker.  Phelps justified his actions by saying that Crocker had a better relay start, but also that he had taken Crocker’s malaise into consideration.  “He wasn’t feeling too well,” said Phelps. “He deserved another shot.” The gesture brought Crocker to near tears and he didn’t disappoint, splitting a world best time of 50.28 to help his team win the gold and set a new world record.

In 2005, Phelps had backed off a bit on training, while Crocker, having graduated from UT and wanting to redeem himself, was wholly focused on the FINA World Championships. In the much anticipated rematch, Crocker took the lead and had a half body-length lead at the halfway mark. Instead of reeling Crocker in down the backstretch, Phelps actually lost ground to Crocker.  In the final 10 meters, Crocker’s finish was compared to Secretariat finishing the final stretch at the Belmont Stakes horse race to win the Triple-Crown in 1973. He was untouchable, and finished a full body-length ahead of the field, winning with a 50.40. It broke his world record by more than three tenths of a second and was an amazing 1.25 seconds ahead of Phelps.

“When you’re racing (Phelps), you have to always assume it’s going to take a world record to win,” Crocker said after the race. “It’s faster than I thought I could go. You can’t put limits on yourself.”

“What happened here,” said Phelps after the race, “I’m going to use for motivation, and hopefully by next summer. I’ll be able to give (Crocker) a race.”

In the much anticipated re-match in 2006, at the US Nationals in Irvine, Phelps came from behind in the final meters to out-touch Crocker.  “When we race each other,” said Phelps after the race, “we bring out the best in one another.”  Later that month, Crocker, without Phelps in the race, claimed the Pan Pac title in the fastest time in the world for the year.

The showcase event at the 2007 Phillips USA Swimming Nationals in Indianapolis was the Phelps-Crocker rivalry.  But just before the start, a photographer’s strobe light inadvertently flashed causing Crocker to flinch. It left him last off the blocks and would result in his disqualification.  Still he caught Phelps and eventually took the lead on the first lap, only to have Phelps chase him down on the homestretch for the victory.  At the 2007 World Championships, Crocker beat Phelps in the semi-finals, but in the final it was Phelps on top again, with a time of 50.77 - the second man in history to break the 51 second barrier.

By 2008, Phelps was confident and in control, and he faced a new rival in Serbian Milorad Cavic. But lost in their historic finish at the Beijing Olympic Games was that Ian Crocker just missing the bronze medal by the same 1/100th of second that decided the gold medal.  Despite not earning a medal in his signature event, Crocker swam in the prelims of the USA’s 4×100m medley relay and received his third Olympic relay gold medal.

Ian Crocker retired after the Beijing Games with 21 medals in major international competition, spanning the Olympics, the FINA World Aquatics Championships and the Pan Pacific Swim-ming Championships. He is one of the only swimmers in history to win the same event (100y butterfly) at NCAA’s all 4 years of college.  He set two long-course world records (50m & 100m butterfly) and three short-course records (50m & 100m fly and 100m free). He also retired holding the world record in the LC 100m butterfly.  But as was the case with many world records, Crocker’s 100 fly mark was taken down in 2009 by Michael Phelps in the fullbody tech-suit era. Though the sub-50 second swims by Phelps and Milorad Cavic in the 2009 World Champion-ships were astounding, it’s worth noting that Crocker’s 50.40 from the 2005 worlds remained the only swim in the top 10 performances in 100m butterfly history until Joseph Schooling’s gold medal swim at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, not done in a polyurethane suit.   

Ian Crocker enters the Hall of Fame as one the greatest butterflyers in history and one of Michael Phelps’ greatest rivals. He held onto the 100m fly world record for 6 years and challenged the greatest swimmer in the history of our sport to achieve unimaginable success.

Crocker with Josh Davis at a Mutual of Omaha Break Out 
Swim Clinic (credit Swimswam/ MOO BOSC)

Since retiring, Ian continues to be involved in swimming as a coach, swim school operator and clinician for Mutual of Omaha.  He also pursues his many other interests, including singing and playing the guitar, tinkering with cars and reading. 







ABOUT ISHOF
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 bwigo@ishof.org


  

Monday, March 13, 2017

FRANCE’S LAURE MANAUDOU ELECTED TO THE HALL OF FAME - FIRST FRENCH WOMAN TO WIN OLYMPIC GOLD IN SWIMMING BROKE THE “UNBEATABLE” RECORD OF JANET EVANS

FORT LAUDERDALE - The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) announced that Laure Manaudo of France will join 17 others as honorees who will enter the International Swimming Hall of Fame as the Class of 2017. Manaudou is the sixteenth member of the class to be named for ceremonies to be held August 25-27, in Fort Lauderdale. Previously, Open water swimmer Maarten Van Der Weijden, swimmers Wu Chuanyu (CHN) and Takeshi “Halo” Hirose (USA) Georges Vallerey, Jr. (FRA), Alain Bernard (FRA) and Australia’s Leisel Jones (AUS), diver Zhang Xiuwei (CHN) and Laura Wilkinson (USA), long distance swimmer Walter Poe-nisch (USA), water polo players Osvaldo Codaro (ARG), András Bodnár (HUN) and Bridgette Gusterson, synchronized swimmer Anastasia Davydova (RUS), coach Dick Jochums (USA) and photojournalist Heinz Kluetmeier have been announced.

Manaudou with coach Phillipe Lucas
Laure Manaudou was born on October 9, 1986 in Villeurbanne, France. She swam for the club of Ambérieu-en-Bugey, in Ain, from the age of 6 to 14 years old.  In 2000, coach Philippe Lucas spotted her and convinced her parents that he would make her a champion. She then left the family nest to join her new coach in Melun, and a year later she won two silver medals at the European Junior Championships in Malta. Everyone started talking about her enormous potential.

On the podium in 2004
In 2003, at the age of 16, Manaudou won her first French national title in the 50m backstroke, at the French championships. The following year she took gold in the five individual events (400m, 800m, 1500m, 50m back and 100m back) at the French Nationals and qualified for her first Olympic team.  In Athens, a few months later, she won the gold medal in the 400m freestyle.  It was France's first gold medal ever in women's swimming and the first swimming gold medal won by a French athlete since Jean Boiteux's victory in the 400m men's freestyle event at Helsinki in 1952. Manaudou also won the silver medal in the women's 800m freestyle and the bronze medal in the women's 100m backstroke, thus becoming only the second Frenchwoman to win three medals in a single Olympic Games, Summer or Winter.

In 2005, she defended her world title in the 400m freestyle at the 2005 FINA World Champion-ships. At the French Championships in 2006, she did what many thought was impossible. For eighteen years, women swimmers had been chasing the seemingly untouchable record set by America’s Janet Evans in the 400m freestyle at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. There was rea-son to believe it would last for eternity, but Laure Manaudou finally broke it and she lowered Evans' standard again at the European Championship three months later.

She confirmed her status as a favorite to repeat as Olympic champion in Beijing, by winning 5 medals including 2 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze at the 2007 World Swimming Championships in Melbourne, Australia. Shortly thereafter, she signed a sponsorship contract for 5 years for a sum of money that would be close to 1 million euros a year. The same year, on May 6, 2007, she decided to part with coach Philippe Lucas to train in Italy.

Manaudou was the star of French swimming and a real hope of multiple medals at Beijing 2008, but by her own admission 2007 was a crazy year as personal issues interfered with her training. After a season where she had four coaches and a loss of motivation, Laure finished a disappointing 8th in the 400m final and 7th in the 100m backstroke.

Entre Les Lignes
She announced her retirement in early 2009, but living in the United States two years later, start-ed training again and although she qualified for the London Olympic Games in the 100m and 200m backstroke, she failed to advance beyond the preliminaries.  She announced her retirement and left the international aquatic stage as she started it, after winning the 50m backstroke at the European (SC) Championships in November of 2013.

In 2014, Laure released her autobiography, Entre Les Lignes (Between The Lines).  It is a can-did, honest account of her life in competitive swimming, with its sacrifices, its ups and downs, her relationships with her brothers, coaches and lovers and the challenges she faced dealing with fame at an early age.

Triple Olympic medalist, three-time world champion, 18-time European champion and 58 times champion of France, Laure Manaudou enters the ISHOF as the best female swimmer of France history.



ABOUT ISHOF
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 bwigo@ishof.org


Friday, March 10, 2017

AUSTRALIAN LEISEL JONES ELECTED TO THE HALL OF FAME - WINNER OF 9 OLYMPIC MEDALS, 7 WORLD TITLES

FORT LAUDERDALE - The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) announced that
Australia’s Leisel Jones will join 17 others as honorees who will enter the International Swimming Hall of Fame as the Class of 2017. Jones is the fifteenth member of the class to be named for ceremonies to be held August 25-27, in Fort Lauderdale. Previously, Open water swimmer Maarten Van Der Weijden, swimmers Wu Chuanyu (CHN) and Takeshi “Halo” Hirose (USA) Georges Vallerey, Jr. (FRA), Alain Bernard (FRA), diver 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, synchronized swimmer Anastasia Davydova (RUS), coach Dick Jochums (USA) and photojournalist Heinz Kluetmeier have been announced.

When Leisel Jones qualified for the London Olympic Games in 2012, she became the first Aus-tralian swimmer to compete in four Olympic Games.  Along with Ian Thorpe, she holds the record for the most Olympic medals (9) won by any Australian, in addition to winning seven FINA world championships.

Sydney Morning Herald depicting 15 year old Leisel Jones
Leisel Marie Jones was born on August 30, 1985. As a ten year-old Brisbane school girl, she watched Samantha Riley win the bronze medal in the 100m breaststroke at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.  Less than four years later, she ousted her idol from the Australian Team by winning the 100m breaststroke at the 2000 Australian Olympic trials at the age of 14. Shortly after her fifteenth birthday, she swam the race of her life to win claim the silver medal in the 100m breaststroke and added another silver in the 4 x 100m medley relay at the Sydney Olympic Games. For the next eight years, Leisel was the most dominating female breaststroker in the world, setting 6 world records, 3 in the 100m and 3 at 200m. Named world swimmer of the year in 2005 & 2006, the pinnacle of her career came with her individual gold medal in the 100m breaststroke, silver medal in the 200m and a second gold medal in the 4 x 100 medley relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Cover of Leisel's book
"Body Lengths" penguin books
Cover of Good
Weekend Magazine
Nicknamed "Diesel"and "Lethal Leisel," she candidly recounts in her 2015 autobiography, Body Lengths, that her achievements were not without their challenges. In her book she tells what it was like to be thrust into the limelight so young and under constant pressure from an early age to be perfect — from coaches, from the media and from herself. Despite the highs of her swimming stardom, she suffered depression, and at one time planned to take her own life. In London, she was criticized in the media for her weight, but she handled herself with great composure. She has emerged with maturity and good humor, having finally learnt how to be herself and live with confidence.  She also hopes that by telling her story, other female athletes will understand they are not alone.

ABOUT ISHOF
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 bwigo@ishof.org

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

ANASTASIA DAVYDOVA SELECTED FOR THE HALL OF FAME - MOST DECORATED SYNCHRO SWIMMER IN HISTORY

FORT LAUDERDALE - The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) announced that Russian synchronized swimmer Anastasia Davydova will join 17 others as honorees who will enter the International Swimming Hall of Fame as the Class of 2017. Davydova is the fourteenth member of the class to be named for ceremonies to be held August 25-27, in Fort Lauderdale. Previously, Open water swimmer Maarten Van Der Weijden, swimmers Wu Chuanyu (CHN) and Takeshi Halo Hirose (USA) Georges Vallerey, Jr. (FRA), Alain Bernard (FRA), diver 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, coach Dick Jochums (USA) and photojournalist Heinz Kluetmeier have been announced.

Anastasia Davydova—nicknamed “Asya”— was born on February 2, 1983. She is a five-time Olympic champion, thirteen-time world champion, seven-time European champion in synchro-nized swimming.. Davydova’s specialty was the duet event and she is the only swimmer in his-tory to repeat as an Olympic duet champion. Her routines were on the cutting edge of choreog-raphy, as well as being technically superior. In 2010, FINA declared her the best synchronized swimmer of the XXI century and in 2012 she was the standard bearer of the Russian Olympic team at the closing ceremony of the Games in London. 

Anastasia’s first sport was figure skating. Then she saw artistic gymnastics on TV and she left the ice for the ribbon and mat, but not for long. At the age of six, her mother took her for swim lessons where she was exposed to synchronized swimming. She loved the sport so much that she even gave up her favorite foods: chips, cakes and chocolates.  You see, she was a little chubby and the coach put her on a trial period to see if she would lose weight. While she really wanted the “bad food,” she loved synchronized swimming more and the rest, as they say, is his-tory.


In a sport that usually forces athletes to be patient as they build international reputations, Anastasia Davydova did not have to wait very long to move to the top. At age 15, she was paired with Anastasia Ermakova (ISHOF 2015). Because they were very successful at the junior level, judges were familiar with them by the time they became seniors. At their first major senior international event, they placed second in duet at the 2001 FINA World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan. The next year they performed a nearly flawless routine, including five perfect 10s in the final free program, to win the European Championships. At the 2003 World Championships in Barcelona, Davydova and Ermakova won their first senior world duet title; the Russian team was also victorious. Davydova won team and duet at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Athens in April 2004 and the European Championships in Madrid in May 2004. At the Olympic Games in Athens, Davydova and Ermakova won gold with an impeccable routine, scoring a perfect 50 for artistic impression (receiving a score of ten from all five judges). In the team event, they also won gold, even after a music malfunction required them repeat their performance. 
 
Leading up to the Beijing Games, Davydova, Ermakova and the Russians were unbeatable, winning every event they entered. At Beijing, the pair again won duet gold, earning a combined 99.251 and all perfect 10s for technical merit. The Russian team also won, leaving Ermakova and Davydova with a record four gold synchro medals.

After Ermakova retired, Davydova began training with Svetlana Romashina. But after the pair won at the 2011 FINA World Championships, Davydova stepped aside in favor of Natalia Ishchenko to focus on the team event, her studies at the Moscow Institute of Economics, Politics, and Law and on coaching youth at her local club. When She announced her retirement after winning gold in the team event at the 2012 Olympic Games, she also announced that she would turn her energy to coaching.  She wanted to be part of keeping the Russians on top. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Russia won both gold medals.

Today, Anastasia Davydova is the director of the Olympic Synchronized Swimming Center, she is a Cavalier of three Russian state orders, is vice- president of the Russian Olympic Committee, Chairman of the Council of Assistance to the Russian Olympic Committee and a member of the Executive Committee of the Russian Olympic Committee.  She also still avoids eating her favorite bad foods and is in great shape.

About the ISHOF
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 bwigo@ishof.org



Tuesday, March 7, 2017

WATER POLO PLAYER BRIDGETTE GUSTERSON ELECTED TO THE HALL OF FAME - A YOUNG GIRL’S DREAM CAME TRUE WHEN AUSTRALIA WON THE GOLD IN 2000

FORT LAUDERDALE - The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) announced that Bridgette Gusterson will join 17 others as honorees who will enter the International Swimming Hall of Fame as the Class of 2017. Bridgette Gusterson Ireland (AUS) is the fourteenth member of the class to be named for ceremonies to be held August 25-27, in Fort Lauderdale. Previously, open water swimmer Maarten Van Der Weijden, swimmers Wu Chuanyu (CHN) and Takeshi “Halo” Hirose (USA) Georges Vallerey, Jr. (FRA), Alain Bernard (FRA), diver Zhang Xiuwei (CHN) and Laura Wilkinson (USA), long distance swimmer Walter Poenisch (USA), water polo players Osvaldo Codaro (ARG) and András Bodnár (HUN), coach Dick Jochums (USA) and photojournalist Heinz Kluetmeier have been announced.

Bridgette Gusterson was born on February 7, 1973, in Perth, Western Australia.  As a ten year-old she had a clear and precise goal. She wanted to be an Olympian. The only problem was, she didn't have a sport. Her first choice was gymnastics but she knew she was going to be too tall. The Bicton pool just two minutes from her home and her older sister, Danielle, played water polo, so the choice became clear. Even though women’s water polo was not yet on the Olympic program, there were hopes it would be added to the 1984 Olympic program for Los Angeles.  And so began a career that that set the standard for female water polo players around the world.

As she grew, Gusterson’s tall, athletic frame (180 cm / 5’11”) lent itself to the demanding center forward position.  But her physical attributes were matched by her fierce determination to master all technical aspects of the game.  As a feared centre forward, accurate passer and outside shoot-er, Bridgette was regarded as the best all-rounder in the world in the latter parts of the 1990s.  She made her first Australian National Team appearance in 1992 and subsequently represented her country in 212 international matches, scoring more than 400 goals. In 1995, she scored a hat-trick in leading Australia to the World Cup gold medal over the Netherlands and she was the first Australian woman to receive a professional contract to play in Europe, representing the Italian club, Orrizonte from 1995 to 1997.

It had always been her dream, from when she first started playing, that one day women's water polo would be in the Olympics.  As she grew older the dream became more defined.  She would be captain of the team that won the gold medal in the first women’s Olympic tournament.  Amazingly her dream came true. It started when she assumed captaincy of the Australian team in 1998. A short time later the Australian Olympic Organizing Committee announced women’s wa-ter polo was being added, for the first time, to the Olympic program in 2000.  In the semi-final game against Russia, she scored the winning goal with a clever flick shot over the goal keeper’s shoulder.  The final against the United States was even more dramatic she made the assist that led to the winning goal to break a tie and clinch the gold medal with just 1.3 seconds on the clock.  When the final tallies were made, she had led her team in scoring and to add icing to the top of dream cake, she shared the Olympic triumph with her sister and teammate, Danielle.

Gusterson retired after the 2000 Olympic Games, but continues to be involved in the sport as a coach. She resides in Perth with her husband Gary Ireland (former World Champion swimmer/ surf lifesaver) and their son Kalani.

About ISHOF
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 bwigo@ishof.org


Friday, March 3, 2017

HUNGARIAN WATERPOLO PLAYER DR. ANDRÁS BODNÁR ELECTED TO THE HALL OF FAME

FORT LAUDERDALE - The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) announced today that Dr. András Bodnár will join 17 others as honorees who will enter the International Swimming Hall of Fame as the Class of 2017. Dr. Bodnár is the twelfth member of the class to be named for ceremonies to be held August 25-27, in Fort Lauderdale. Previously, open water swimmer Maarten Van Der Weijden, swimmers Wu Chuanyu (CHN) and Takeshi “Halo” Hirose (USA), Georges Vallerey, Jr. (FRA), Alain Bernard (FRA), diver Zhang Xiuwei (CHN) and Laura Wilkinson (USA), long distance swimmer Walter Poenisch (USA), water polo player Osvaldo Codaro (ARG), coach Dick Jochums (USA) and photojournalist Heinz Kluetmeier have been announced.

“We are so proud of Andras' induction,” says Hungarian Water Polo President Dénes Kemény. “Because after so many Hungarian water polo players in the Hall of Fame (19), we have one more honoree. And there is no doubt about his greatness!"

Hungary is a land of thermal springs and although landlocked, swimming and water sports are ingrained in their culture. This love of water led to an early domination of international swimming and diving competitions in the late 19th and early 20th century competitions.  But in the 1920s, it was water polo that came to symbolize Hungary’s unique strengths and individuality.  From 1928 to 2008, the Hungarians have dominated the sport like no other nation, winning 9 gold medals, 3 silver and 3 bronze medals, including back-to-back titles twice: 1932 and 1936 and, 1952  and 1956, and a triple - back-to-back-to back - from 2000 to 2008.

András Bodnár was born on April 9, 1942 in Ungvár, Hungary, a town that today is known as Uzhgorod, in the Ukraine. In 1952, he began swimming and playing water polo for various clubs in Eger until 1962, when he joined the team of the Budapest University Medical Association. In addition to being an outstanding water polo player, he was also one of Hungary’s top middle distance swimmers.
1964 Hungarian Water Polo Team
He was selected for the first of his four Olympic teams as an 18 year-old and would stand on the podium in each appearance, winning a bronze medal in 1960, gold in 1964 and silver medals in 1968 and 1972. In 1973 he was a member of the team that won the gold at the first FINA World Aquatic Championships in Belgrade. Between 1960 and 1976, he played for the Hungarian National Team in 186 international games - at the same time he was pursuing his medical career. Amazingly, he also swam in the Olympic Games in 1960 and 1964, although he did not make the finals.

In 1968, Bodnár earned his medical degree from the Budapest Semmelweis Medical University. From 1968 to 1985 Dr. Bodnár was Assistant Professor of Surgery. In 1985 he was promoted to head of surgery at Frigyes Korányi Hospital and later National Public Health and Medical Office Supervisor. A man of incredible energy and dedication to his sport, he served as Vice-President of the Hungarian Swimming Federation, water polo division from 1981 to 1989, and as president of the newly formed Hungarian Water Polo Federation from 1989 to 1992. Since 1990 he has been a member of the LEN (European Swimming Federation Medical Committee and since 2004 a member of the Francis Field Foundation Board of Trustees.

In a swimming and water polo career spanning almost two decades, in which he won four Olympic medals (1 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze), the inaugural World Championship Gold, two European Championships and seven Hungarian Championships, Dr. András Bodnár goes down in history as one of the greatest players of all time and the twentieth player from Hungary to be so honored.

About ISHOF
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 bwigo@ishof.org

US DIVER LAURA WILKINSON ELECTED TO THE HALL OF FAME

OVERCAME INJURIES TO CLAIM OLYMPIC GOLD

FORT LAUDERDALE - The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) announced today that American diver, LAURA WILKINSON, will become one of seventeen (17) honorees to en-ter the International Swimming Hall of Fame as the Class of 2017. Wilkinson is the eleventh individual to be named for ceremonies to be held August 25-27, in Fort Lauderdale. Previously, Open water swimmer Maarten Van Der Weijden, swimmers Wu Chuanyu (CHN) and Takeshi “Halo” Hirose (USA) Georges Vallerey, Jr. (FRA), Alain Bernard (FRA), diver Zhang Xiuwei (CHN), long distance swimmer Walter Poenisch (USA), water polo player Osvaldo Codaro (ARG), coach Dick Jochums (USA) and photojournalist Heinz Kluetmeier have been an-nounced.

Beginning with her gold medal in the 10m platform event at the 1998 Goodwill Games, Laura Wilkinson is one of the few divers in the world to claim individual gold medals at every major international diving competition during her career. In addition to winning the Goodwill Games, she won gold medals at the Olympic Games (2000), the FINA World Cup (2004) and the FINA World Championships (2005).

Laura Ann Wilkinson was born on November 17, 1977 in Houston, Texas. Inspired by the publicity surrounding Romanian gymnastic guru Béla Károlyi’s arrival to that city, in 1981, Laura fell in love with gymnastics dreamed of being in the 1996 Olympic Games. But after years of training her gymnastic career ended when a growth spurt during puberty made her too tall for the sport. Then, one day while at a swimming pool, she discovered another sport after seeing an ex-gymnast friend who had switched to diving execute an impressive dive.  In spite of  being told by one of her teachers that she was too old to start a new sport, at the age of 15, Laura plunged into diving anyway.  She joined a local club and says she “fell in love with the sport on the first day.”

She didn’t go very far her first year, but the next year Wilkinson won her first US National Title, made the US National Team, and earned a bronze medal at the FINA World Cup in the 10m synchronized diving event, with partner Patty Armstrong.  Earning a scholarship to the University of Texas Wilkinson won the NCAA 10m platform title in 1997 and 1999 and then gave up her scholarship to turn pro and train for the 2000 Olympic Games, at the Woodlands, with coach Kenny Armstrong.

Three months before the Olympic trials, she was doing a typical warmup, flip, somersault, when she landed on a block of wood and broke her right foot in three places.  To fix it, doctors had to re-break everything and they also found she had stress fracture on her left foot as well.  It appeared that another Olympic dream was at an end. But with a persevering heart and faith, she was not deterred by this injury.  In fact, it may have helped her focus. Together, with her coach, Wilkinson embarked on a brutal training regime that included standing in a cast for six hours a day on top of the platform to practice her push-offs. As soon as the cast was removed, Wilkinson began practicing dives underwater, to avoid putting pressure on her foot.  She also watched an “insane amount of video tape” and “visualized every dive” to keep her “head in the game.”

Although her foot was still not fully recovered when she started to train again three weeks be-fore the trials, her perseverance paid off as she won the trials and qualified for her first Olympic Team.

Three months later, while wearing a protective shoe that enabled her walk up the ladder to the platform, Wilkinson battled back from eighth place and a 60-point deficit after the semifinals to record one of the biggest upsets in Olympic diving history. The turning point came in the third dive of the final round, a reverse two-and-a-half somersault, which Wilkinson performed perfectly, entering the water knife straight with barely a ripple. She went on to win over the favored Chinese diver, Li Na by a minuscule 1.7 points.  Her win was the first in the 10m platform event by an American since Leslie Bush, in 1964 and the accomplishment earned her an appearance on a Wheaties' cereal box and a finalist for the prestigious Sullivan Award as one of the nation’s outstanding athletes.

In 2004, although Laura won the World Cup she finished a disappointing fifth at the Olympic Games in Athens. But she came back the next year to win the gold medal at the FINA World Championships in Montreal.  She retired after competing in her third Olympic Games in Bejing as 14  time US National Teams (1995 - 2008),  a 19 -time US National Champion and one of the greatest divers of all time.

Today, Laura continues to follow her faith, is a devoted wife and mother, motivational speaker, writer, mentor and encourager.  Her passion shines through her speaking as she takes her audience on a leap of faith. The lessons she has learned throughout the peaks and valleys of her diving career have given her an insightful outlook on life and have taught her how to be successful in and out of the pool.

About ISHOF


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 in-volved in life saving activities and education whose lives and accomplishments inspire, edu-cate, and provide role models for people around the world. For more information contact Bruce Wigo at 954-462-6536 ext. 201, or by email bwigo@ishof.org

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

OLYMPIC CHAMPION ALAIN BERNARD ELECTED TO THE HALL OF FAME

Olympic 100m Champion, 4x Olympic medalist


FORT LAUDERDALE - The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) announced today that Frenchman ALAIN BERNARD, will become one of seventeen (17) honorees to enter the International Swimming Hall of Fame as the Class of 2017. Bernard is the tenth individual to be named for ceremonies to be held August 25-27, in Fort Lauderdale. Previously, Open water swimmer Maarten Van Der Weijden, swimmers Wu Chuanyu (CHN) and Takeshi “Halo” Hirose (USA) Georges Vallerey, Jr. (FRA), diver Zhang Xiuwei (CHN), long distance swimmer Walter Poenisch (USA), water polo player Osvaldo Codaro (ARG), coach Dick Jochums (USA) and photojournalist Heinz Kluetmeier have been announced.
Born on May Day, 1983 in Aubagne, Bouches-du-Rhône, France, Alain Bernard dreamed of be-ing a football (aka soccer) player, but at his mother’s insistence he learned to swim at the age of six and this experience would mold his future. He swam for a small club in Augagne until the age of sixteen. With hopes of swimming in the 2004 Olympic Games, he switched to Club Marseille, to train under coach Denis Augin. But he contracted mononucleosis and failed to make the French team.  Returning to the pool he continued a slow but steady progression in the 50 and 100m freestyle. Early in 2007, he followed his coach to a new club, Antibes, and it would be a break-out year for Alain. in February, he broke the French record in the 100 meters and later claimed his first European Championship title in the same event. Then in March of 2008, at the European Championships, he set his first world records, besting the time of Peter van den Hoogenband by 24 one hundredths in the 100m, and Eamon Sullivan’s 50m record by .06.   A month later he qualified for the Beijing Olympic Games in Both events. 

Alain’s experience in Beijing began with bitter disappointment, when the USA took the gold medal from the favored French team in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay. On top of that, he also lost his world record to Eamon Sullivan who had led off Australia’s relay with a phenomenal swim. But two days later, Alain reclaimed his record in his 100m semi-final, before losing it again to Sullivan in his semi. In the final, however, it was Alain Bernard who won the 100m gold medal, and with his victory he became France’s first male Olympic gold medalist since Jean Boiteaux won the 400m freestyle, at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games. The next day he won a bronze medal in the 50m event and left Beijing with three medals, each of a different metal, equaling the performance of Laure Manaudou four years earlier in Athens.  

In April of 2009, Alain Bernard ushered in the shiny suit era by becoming the first swimmer to break the :47 second barrier in the 100m freestyle, and breaking Sullivan’s record with a time of 46.94.  Unfortunately, the suit he wore was one not later approved by FINA and his record was unrecognized. 

Leading up to the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Alain continued to be among the world’s top sprinters and although he missed qualifying in individual events, he was a member of the French 4 x 100 meter free relay that finally won the gold after knocking on the door of greatness for most of his career.  Upon returning to France, at the age of 29, he announced his retirement as his country’s most decorated Olympic swimmer, owning a total of four medals (two gold, one silver and one bronze) at two Olympic Games (2008 and 2012).  In January 2013, Bernard was made an Officer of the French National Order of Merit and he later traveled to Africa as an Ambassador for UNICEF.  Then in 2015, he was selected to participate in the French adventure game show, “Dropped.” He was on the ground in Argentina when he learned that there had been a helicopter accident that killed his fellow contestants, including 2012 Olympic 400m champion Camille Muffat, who was inducted into the ISHOF posthumously in 2016.  

Saying that “Camille is always in my heart,” he visited her family and attended the inauguration of the swimming pool bearing her name.  The tragedy has given him a greater appreciation for life and today he is very involved sharing his love of swimming in his role as ambassador and technical advisor for the French AquaSphere brand of swim equipment.  

About ISHOF
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 in-volved in life saving activities and education whose lives and accomplishments inspire, edu-cate, and provide role models for people around the world. For more information contact Bruce Wigo at 954-462-6536 ext. 201, or by email bwigo@ishof.org

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

FRENCHMAN GEORGE VALLEREY ELECTED TO THE HALL OF FAME

One of the worlds most famous swimmers in the 1940
Recipient of the Croix de Guerre and Olympic Medal
 
FORT LAUDERDALE - The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) announced today that Frenchman Georges Vallerey, will become one of seventeen (17) honorees to enter the International Swimming Hall of Fame as the Class of 2017. Vallerey is the ninth individual to be named for ceremonies to be held August 25-27, in Fort Lauderdale. Previously, Open water swimmer Maarten Van Der Weijden, swimmers Wu Chuanyu (CHN) and Takeshi Halo Hirose (USA), diver Zhang Xiuwei (CHN), long distance swimmer Walter Poenisch (USA), water polo player Osvaldo Codaro (ARG), coach Dick Jochums (USA) and photojournalist Heinz Kluetmeier have been announced. Vallerey, a swimmer and war hero, will enter the Hall of Fame in the Pioneer category.  The Pioneer Category of Honoree Selection was established to recognize individuals whose careers were interrupted by war or politics, or whose great accomplishments or inspirational stories have been overlooked in the fog of time.

If you take a walk in the old French Quarter, in the Wittenau district, of Berlin, you can have a chance to cross the Rue Georges Vallerey. And you can imagine that this Vallerey was a German  administrator, or a general, or whatever else. In fact, the street was named after a Frenchman and one of the worlds most famous swimmers of the 1940s.  His name was
He was born into a family of fish.
Georges-Urbain Vallerey, Jr. and he was born on October 21st, 1927 in Amiens, France, 100 kilometers north of Paris, into a very special family. The father, Georges (1902-1956) swam at the Paris Olympic Games and his six children, Jehan (1925), Georges, Guy and Michel (1932), Jacques (1939) and Gisele (1930) were all world-class competitive swimmers.
 
           
In 1932, the family relocated to Casablanca, Morocco, a colony of France, where Georges became an exceptionally good swimmer. He was gifted and superiorly trained for the time, by his knowledgeable father, who was inspired by the American methods to train in all three strokes. Georges, nicknamed Yo-Yo, was always ready to help others and was only eleven when he made news saving a young girl from drowning. But his great exploit as a lifesaver happened on the 8th November, 1942. 

While the second World War was raging in Europe, an Armistice between the French government, in Vichy, and Nazi Germany, had made Morocco ostensibly a neutral territory.  The Allies saw this
George Vallerey at 15,
recipient of the Croix de Guerre.
neutrality as aiding the Nazis and hoped to convince the sizable French Naval fleet stationed in the harbor of Casablanca, to join them, through a show of strength.
  Instead of surrendering, the French fleet resisted and the Naval Battle of Casablanca ensued.  Watching the battle from the beach, which was taking place a few miles out to sea, was George Vallerey and the best friend of the family, Robert Guenet, 14 years his senior. Georges was only 15, but a very strong guy, with a Herculean build (even though not tall, 58’’ or 1,73m), and he could swim like an otter.
           
The French ships were outgunned by the American fleet and several French vessels retreated into the harbor while under attack, hoping to avoid being sunk at sea. George and Robert saw a ship being hit by high-explosive shells some 300 meters off the shore.  By tradition, many of the sailors did not know how to swim and the pair quickly realized that many were drowning as they abandoned the ship.  Without any hesitation, they undressed, jumped into the water and began to swim to the ship, which was still being hit by bullets and shells, through water covered with burning oil.  Each rescued a sailor, returned to the beach with them, and immediately swam back to the burning wreck. The bombing continued but they didnt stop.  Yo-Yo found a little boat on the beach, tied a rope around his waist and swam it out to the ship.  By this method he saved scores of seamen.  
           
On the 13th of May, 1943, Georges Vallerey, and Robert Guenet, were decorated with the Croix de Guerre avec Etoile de Bronze (War Cross with Bronze Star), but that is not the end of this story.
           
Three years later, in 1946, Georges, by now a robust young adult, began his remarkable swimming career that saw him establish with Alfred Nakache and Alexandre Jany the world record for the 300 meters medley relay. By 1947, he was the best French swimmer in the 200 breaststroke, 100 and 200 backstroke, and 400 meters freestyle.

The next year, at the London Olympic Games, he won the bronze medal in the 100 meters backstroke. Seeing his talent, Bob Kiphuth, the great American coach, tried to recruit Georges to Yale University, but he was now established in Paris and declined.  In 1949, Yales Allen Stack, the 100 meters backstroke Olympic champion at London, thinking that the Casablanca swimming pool was fast, wanted to try for the world record and asked Vallerey to accompany him. Vallerey won the race in a time faster than Stacks winning time in London. Later he starred in a short film by famed French filmmaker, Julien Duvivier, that further magnified his reputation and celebrity.
           
At the 1949 Christmas Cup where
his death warrant was signed.
Then in December, he swam in a Christmas Cup, where the water was at 1° Celsius (34° Fahrenheit). He developed a throat infection, that triggered a nephritis, which is an inflammation of his kidneys. The disease would incapacitate him for four years and finally claim his life on October 4, 1954, in Casablanca, seventeen days before his twenty-seventh birthday. In his memory, the Les Tourelles Piscine, where the swimming events of the 1924 Olympic Games were held, was renamed piscine Georges-Vallerey.  Today the pool has been renovated and is one of the great pools of the world - a lasting tribute to a great swimmer and hero who died too young.

About ISHOF
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 bwigo@ishof.org





Monday, February 27, 2017

DUTCH OPEN WATER SWIMMER MAARTEN VAN DER WEIJDEN ELECTED TO THE HALL OF FAME

First Cancer Survivor to Win Swimming Olympic Gold

Maarten with his Beijing Olympic Gold medal
FORT LAUDERDALE - The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) announced today that Dutch long distance swimmer Maarten Van Der Weijden, will become one of seventeen (17) honorees to enter the International Swimming Hall of Fame as the Class of 2017. And Van Der Weijden is the eighth individual to be named for ceremonies to be held August 25-27, in Fort Lauderdale. Previously, swimmers Wu Chuanyu (CHN) and Takeshi Halo Hirose (USA), diver Zhang Xiuwei (CHN), long distance swimmer Walter Poenisch (USA), water polo player Osvaldo Codaro (ARG), coach Dick Jochums (USA) and photojournalist Heinz Kluetmeier have been announced.

Born in Haastrecht, Netherlands on March 31, 1981, Marteen Van Der Weijden, followed in his older sister Etta’s wake in the pool and open water.  As a young boy, he like challenges and at the age of 11 he swam 100x100m in training. From 1998 to 2000 he became a 12 time Dutch national champion at the 1500m freestyle, 400m freestyle, and 5km open water. Then, in 2001, he was diagnosed with acute leukemia and his chances for survival were very small. For the next two years, Maarten had little control over his life and he depended on the medical specialists to guide him through successful chemotherapy treatment and a stem cell transplantation. In 2003 he started to train again and amazingly qualified for the FINA Open Water World Championships in Barcelona. In 2004, he swam across the Ijsselmeer in 4:20.58 hours, breaking the former record by almost 15 minutes to collect 50,000 Euros, which he donated for cancer research. Van Der Weijden had his own website named "Maarten Van Der Weijden zwemt tegen kanker" (Maarten van der Weijden swims against cancer) where he informed his fans about his life and his career. He also collected more money to invest for cancer research. His dream was to become World Champion and over the next few years he trained hard and worked on his tactics. In 2008, he fulfilled this aim when he won the 25km at the 2008 World Championships in Seville. He also won a bronze medal at the 5km there and finished fourth at the 10km. This result qualified him for the first 10km open water marathon race at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. There he ended up winning the gold medal on August 21, narrowly edging out David Davies of Great Britain. He thus became the first mens’ Olympic Champion in the 10km open water competition. He announced the end of his professional swimming career during his acceptance speech as Dutch Sportsman of the year in 2008.  But that’s not the end of his story.

Cover of Maarten’s autobiography “Beter”
After writing his own biography, “Better,” in 2009 and a successful career as a finance manager for Unilever, he struck out on his own as and entrepreneur and motivational speaker focusing healthcare, sports and business.  In 2015 he initiated his first “Swim to Fight Cancer” in the cold channel of Den Bosch.  It attracted over 500 participants and raised over 500,000 Euros for cancer research.  He continues to use swimming to fight cancer, recently swimming the the running marathon distance (42 km 195m) in the 50m pool of the Pieter van den Hoogenband Swimming Stadium Eindhoven. He has also created a one-man stage show based on his book, “Beter.” All one hundred of his shows have been sold out. He has also performed on the TEDx stage in Rotterdam. 

Maarten is married to Daisy de Ridder and is the father of two daughters,Pilieine (age 2) and Robie, born on February 16, 2017.   



About ISHOF
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 bwigo@ishof.org