These selfless individuals have devoted thousands of hours and risked resources to support swimmers and marathon swimming events.
Lello Barbuto, Italy, 1992
Lello is the long-time race organizer of the professional 36K (22-mile)Maratona del Golfo – Capri Napoli Swim. He was the first president of the International Marathon Swimming Association. Under his leadership, the sport of professional marathon swimming enjoyed a strong resurgence and the World Series of Marathon Swimming was established.
Lynn Blouin, Canada, 2004
Lynn has been in marathon swimming administration for nearly 20 years. She began as a staff person for the professional 42K (26-mile) Traversée Internationale du Lac Memphrémagog in Quebec, Canada and rose to the position of President and Race Director from 1993-1995.
Lynn also helped form the International Marathon Swimming Federation which later became the International Marathon Swimming Association. She was active in conducting many world events from 1997 to 2002 as General Secretary of the International Marathon Swimming Association. She is also serves as the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Vice President.
Sir William (Billy) Edmund Butlin, Great Britain, 1963
Between 1953 and 1959, Sir Butlin organized and sponsored the International Channel races across the English Channel to great worldwide fanfare.
Sri Chinmoy, India, 2012
Chinmoy Kumar Ghose, also known as Sri Chinmoy, was an Indian teacher, poet, artist and athlete who inspired many in the endurance sports world. He is the namesake of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team that organises many athletic events worldwide including the 26.4K International Self-Transcendence Marathon-Schwimmen.
Members of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, who have received many awards, honors and recognitions, have swum the English Channel at least 38 times. His followers continue to organise the prestigious and highly popular International Self-Transcendence Marathon-Schwimmen that draws an international crowd and is sold-out year after year.
He founded the Sri Chinmoy Centre and wrote 1,500 books, 115,000 poems and 20,000 songs, created 200,000 paintings and gave almost 800 free peace concerts around the world where he advocated meditation, chanting mantras and prayers, performing dedicated service to God as a way to personal enlightenment.
Inspired by Sri Aurobindo (1872–1950), Chinmoy was encouraged to pursue his athletic abilities.
He was a decathlon champion at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, marathons, ultra-marathons, cycling, as well as captain of the soccer and volleyball teams. During his years at the ashram he spent many hours daily in deep meditation. He competed in endurance events up into his 60′s where his knee injury forced him to switch to low impact sports including tennis and weightlifting. Chinmoy has many followers who are inspired by him to run daily for health and physical fitness. He advocated self-transcendence by expanding one’s consciousness to conquer the mind’s perceived limitations. In the spirit of self transcendence, his students have completed extraordinary feats of endurance.
William Forest “Buck” Dawson, USA, 1993
As executive director of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, Buck made major efforts to include open water swimming as integral part of the Hall of Fame through displays and written materials maintained in the museum’s library. Buck, known as “Mr. Swimming Hall of Fame”, supported the AAU and United States Swimming Long Distance Swimming Programs. Buck wrote the Hall’s charter and helped grow the Hall from an idea to a shoebox collection and, ultimately, a million dollar operation as the world’s showcase and archives of swimming.
His swimming camps also served as training camps for the United States Swimming Open Water National Teams and individuals training for English Channel and other marathon swim endeavors. Buck founded the annual Fort Lauderdale Rough Water Swim, formerly known as the International Swimming Hall of Fame Ocean Mile, and the Galt Ocean Mile Swims.
Buck was the first president of the International Sports Heritage Association, now a 136-member organization of Sports Halls of Fame which he founded under the name of International Association of Sports Museums and Halls of Fame. Under Buck’s leadership, the International Swimming Hall of Fame became the world’s first international Hall of Fame when it was recognized by the 96-member FINA Congress in 1968.
Buck was also a writer whose books included A Civil War Artist From the Front, When the Earth Explodes, Michigan Ensian, All About Dryland Exercises For Swimmers, Weissmuller to Spitz—An Era to Remember, Age Group Swimming and Diving For Teacher and Pupil, Million Dollar Mermaids—America’s Love Affair With Its First Women Swimmers, Gold Medal Pools, We Don’t Sew Beads on Belts and Stand Up and Hook Up.
Buck was honored as an inductee in International Swimming Hall of Fame following retirement in 1986.
Ned Denison, Ireland, 2012
Ned has motivated, educated, organized and assisted thousands of swimmers from California (USA) to Cork (Ireland) in a sport that he passionately serves with compassion, experience and a relentless drive.
He is a mountain of a man who not only a high-achieving marathon swimmer in his own right, but a gem of the open water world who is also giving a great deal back to the sport by helping others achieve their dreams. He has helped and energized many open water swimmers under the auspices of the Sandycove Island Swim Club and the force of his engaging personality.
He started the Blackrock to Cobh swim (now known as the 16K Cork to Cobh swim) and founded the Cork Ireland – Long Distance Swim Camp and the Irish Champion of Champions Swim that had 50 participants in 2009 and he and his wife Anne (Alcatraz 2006) have hosted five annual Channel dinners. He knows the sport as an athlete for he has completed multiple channel swims in Ireland, South Africa and California.
Denison was chairperson of Ireland’s first National Open Water Committee where he created the first national list of open water swims and assembled a mailing list to over 3,000 swimmers in Ireland to promote open water swimming. In 2006, he organized 94 Irish swimmers to travel to the Alcatraz Swim in San Francisco which remains the largest group of Irish swimmers to compete in an international competition. He is a founding member of the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association in California and the Kingdom Swim in Vermont, USA, and is on the committee for the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim.
George Duthie, Canada, 1966
George organized the famous professional Canadian National Exhibition swims from 1933 to 1968 as the Canadian National Exhibition Manager of Sports Department and was later inducted in the Amateur Athletic Union of Canada’s Hall of Fame.
Maurice Ferguson, Great Britain, 2003
Maurice was the British Long Distance Swimming Association President in 1989, its Secretary between 1994 and 2003, its Honorary Recorder between 1974 and 1999, its Membership Secretary since 2000 and its Pilot Lifesaver Scheme Honorary Secretary since 2003.
Maurice trained English Channel relay teams and three solo channel swimmers and was awarded the Association’s James Brennan Trophy in 1992, the Harry Moffatt Trophy in 1994, the Veteran Swimmer of the Year Trophy in 1983 and the Eileen Butcher Trophy as the eldest swimmer in the Association’s Veterans Championship in 2003.
Benjamin Franklin, USA, 1983
Benjamin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America and was a leading author, printer, satirist, political theorist, politician, scientist, diplomat and statesman of his ear. He was credited with the invention of wooden hand paddles and was an avid swimmer all his life, as an early proponent of physical fitness.
Drury Gallagher, USA, 2010
Drury is a visionary who restarted the Manhattan Island Marathon swim, one of the world’s most popular marathon swims.
Due to his hard-work in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, New York City is now a visually dynamical hotbed of marathon swimming, world renowned for its Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. As a pool swimmer, Drury set 27 FINA Masters world record and later he founded the Manhattan Island Swimming Association that will be his tremendously appreciated legacy as a memorial to his son, Drury, Jr. who died in a tragic accident. Drury is leaving one big wake – as an athlete and an open water swimming visionary.
Joe Grossman, USA, 1979
Joe was involved in all aspects of marathon swimming administration, organization and promotion and is considered the Founding Father of the modern era of marathon swimming. He was instrumental in the formation of the World Professional Marathon Swimming Association and served as its secretary. Joe traveled worldwide as a public information officer and took these opportunities to promote marathon swimming and to lay the foundation to unify marathon swimming programs. He worked tirelessly to increase the prize money for the swimmers and to develop an equitable distribution of the available money.
Christopher Guesdon, Australia, 2009
Christopher is credited with creating the modern format of the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim together with Sid Cassidy and Dennis Miller. He has been instrumental in the sport as a race organizer, behind-the-scenes administrator and race official who has written manuals, worked as support crew, lobbyist and historian throughout Oceania, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe.
Christopher was a FINA-accredited Open Water Swimming Referee between 1992 – 2008 and manager of the Australian Open Water Swimming Team between 1991 – 1996, and a member of the FINA Open Water Swimming Technical Committee between 1996 – 2000. He is also a life member and representative of the Channel Swimming Association and was the referee at the 1998 Perth World Championships. He organized the open water events at the 1998 Brisbane Oceania Championships, the 1999 Melbourne Pan Pacific Championships, 2003 Fiji South Pacific Games, 1991-2008 Tasmania Open Water Swimming Championships and the 2007 Darwin Arafura Games as as well as lectured at the Argentina International Open Water Swimming Clinic, the Fiji Technical Officials Clinic, the Mombassa, Kenya Technical Officials Clinic. He also refereed, managed swimmers or lectured in Dubai, Hawaii, Suva (Fiji), Cairns, Melbourne, Rarotonga (Cook Islands), Rotorua (New Zealand), Tasmania, Bali (Indonesia), Lac Chibougamau (Canada), Rosario (Argentina), Lac Memphramagog (Canada), Lac St-Jean (Canada), Saguenay River (Canada), Chicoutimi (Canada), Nile river, Suez Canal, Atlantic City (New Jersey), Lake Michigan, Capri-Napoli (Italy), Lake Ontario, Atlanta (Georgia), San Felice & Crotone (Italy), Terracina (Italy), Evian (France), 90K Relay from Malta to Sicily and Lac La Tuque, an epic 24-hour race in Canada.
In Australia, Christopher was the Secretary of Australian Open Water Swimming Technical Committee between 1988 – 2001, partly for which he received the Australian Sports Medal in 2000. He was the founder of the Australian Long Distance Swimming Federation, which he started to lead from Tasmania in 1973, and a bureau member of the International Long Distance Swimming Federation, which existed between its founding in Paris in 1953 until 1974. He also co-authored with Bill Ford the comprehensive and authoritative Australian Long Distance and Marathon Swimming Manual and helped draft the FINA Open Water Swimming Manual.
Captain Tim Johnson, USA, 2006
Captain Johnson made major contributions for the support elements in marathon swimming, including the development of unprecedented computer applications that modeled swims allowing analysis of currents and tides. He was one of the founders of the Manhattan Island Swimming Association and was the organization’s historian. His advice on current and tides set the standards and were partly responsible for the record swims around Manhattan Island. Tim has authored the comprehensive and informative History of Open Water Marathon Swimming.
Dennis Miller, Fiji 2013 As an administrator working behind the scenes, Dennis Miller rose in the FINA Family where he ranks to the highest echelon in aquatic administration. He became a FINA Bureau member while overseeing FINA’s newest aquatic discipline, open water swimming. As he worked on the details of integrating open water swimming into the FINA framework, Miller was instrumental in getting marathon swimming into the Olympics. He lobbied, he refereed, he explained, he presented and was the constant in the FINA camp when it came to open water swimming.
Credited as one of the three people who formulated and pushed forward the current racing format used at the Olympic 10km Marathon Swim, together with Chris Guesdon and Sid Cassidy, his legacy is acknowledged by his peers.
There isn’t anyone in the world who has attended more world-class FINA open water swimming competitions than Miller. He is a constant with an encyclopedic knowledge of the history, rules, and operations of competitive open water swimming world. He isn’t brash, he isn’t egotistical. He just gets the job done administratively. Paperwork, procedures, protocols and reports – those little things that need to get done to put on world-class events in countries around the world – that is where Miller has excelled. His work has laid the foundation that has allowed marathon swimming to reach its Olympic status.
Jim Moran, USA, 1985 Jim Moran is also an International Swimming Hall of Fame Gold Medallion Recipient in 1995. As an entrepreneur, he established the largest Ford dealership in the world and sponsored the Jim Moran Lake Michigan Swim for seven years in Chicago, USA in the 1960’s that attracted the best professional marathon swimmers from around the world. Prize money ranged up to US$25,000 and local television and radio stations provided hourly updates on the swimmers’ progress. In the late 1990’s, Jim established the Moran Learn to Swim Endowment Fund at the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
Paul E. “Jerry” Nason, USA, 1974
Jerry retired as the Executive Sports Editor of the Boston Globe. He loved all sports, especially those involving endurance and did much to support marathon swimming in New England. He promoted the efforts of Jim Doty, Ralph Willard and the New England Marathon Association. His writing told the story of the technical aspects of the marathon swimming and the inner drive needed by the swimmer to complete the course. His reports on the annual swim from the Boston Light House to the L Street Bathhouse and other marathon swims gave the impression of being on the swimmer’ escort craft and observing the swim stroke-by-stroke.
Roger Parsons, Great Britain / Spain, 1997
Valerie Parsons, Great Britain / Spain, 1989
After her retirement as one of England’s premier marathon swimmers, Valerie turned her efforts to the administration of the sport and eventually became the Honorary Chairman of the British Long Distance Swimming Association. Valerie assisted the Lake Windermere International 25K swim held every four years.
When FINA formed a commission to study the feasibility of adding open water events to their program, Roger was selected to represent England on the FINA Open Water Commission and was largely responsible for adapting the British Long Distance Swimming Association and Channel Swimming Association rules into the FINA Open Water Swimming Rules.
When FINA relaxed its rules on professionalism, Roger and Valeria established a FINA World Series of Marathon Swimming. Roger combined several independently run professional races into a single cohesive body. As the FINA Open Water commitment grew, Roger was appointed to the Open Water Sub-Committee of the Technical Swimming Committee and then to the Technical Open Water Swimming Committee. The Parsons established the World Series of Marathon Swimming.
He later became the Executive Secretary of the International Marathon Swimming Association (IMSA) and attended all of the ten IMSA swims in Europe, South and North America. Eventually, FINA took over the administrative functions of the IMSA.
Dale Petranech, USA, 1995
In 1977, Dale became the first U.S. Swimming Open Water Swimming Committee Chairman and developed a successful domestic and international program. He assisted U.S. Masters Swimming to form its own independent organization. He was chairman of the FINA Open Water Swimming Commission that made recommendations to FINA for inclusion of Open Water Swimming into their organization and eventually served as Honorary Secretary of the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee.
He assisted in writing the FINA Open Water Swimming Rules and served as a FINA Open Water Official at several World Championships and World Cup events. He escorted American swimmers at two FINA World Cups.
In 1985, he became the oldest swimmer to swim across the Catalina Channel and also swam around Manhattan Island. He has served as the Secretary of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and has promoted the induction of the finest marathon swimmers in the world into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
Francis “Frank” Richards, Great Britain, 2004
Frank has observed 280 English Channel swims to date during his 31 years of authenticating English Channel swims – thought to be the greatest number by one person.
He was first elected as committee member of the Channel Swimming Association in 1972 and has served on various Channel swimming committees for 31 years. He was a founding member of the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation and was elected its President in 2002.
In 2003 he flew to Malaysia to officially observe Abdul Malik Mydin’s swim from the Malaysian mainland to Langkawi Island.
Ray Scott, Great Britain, 1983
Audrey Scott, Great Britain, 1983
Audrey and Ray ran the Channel Swimming Association for 33 years. Ray served as its Chairman for 33 years between 1960 and 1993 and then as Secretary from 1993 to 1994. He was made the Channel Swimming Association Honorary Ambassador in1994 for his dedication and service to the Association. Ray acted as an Association Observer on over 300 swims and was present on many of the great occasions in Channel swimming history. Audrey served initially as Assistant Secretary and in the early 1970’s took over as Honorary Secretary until her death in 1993.
John Slater, Great Britain, 1980
John was one of the founding fathers of the British Long Distance Swimming Association and its first Honorary Secretary in 1956. John swam in Lake Windermere in 1955 and races in Morecambe Cross Bay, Morecambe Inshore, Yorkshire River Race, and the St. Germans to King’s Lynn Championship.
Trevor Smith, Great Britain, 1998
Trevor is one of the founding fathers of the British Long Distance Swimming Association, serving as its Honorary Treasurer for over 25 years until 1981. He was instrumental in establishing the Lake Windermere International every four years as the primer event for amateur marathon swimmers around the world. He was the 1948 Morecambre Cross Champion and was the 1977 British Long Distance Swimming Association Veterans (Masters) Champion.
Vicko Soljan, Yugoslavia / Croatia, 2007
Vicko founded the Croatian Long Distance Swimming Federation in 1980 and has organized the Croation International Long Distance Swimming Championship (the 16K Faros Marathon) in Stari Grad Bay since 1996 and the Faros Long Distance Swimming Club since 1976. He founded the 5K and 25K LEN Open Water Swimming Championship in 1989. The Faros Marathon Swim was the only international event to continue in Croatia through the 1991-1992 war. Soljan conducted the first LEN Long Distance Championships in 1989 with 5K and 25K distances. He took national teams to 6 European Championships and 4 World Championships.
He has written about open water swimming for various newspapers for 58 years and is the author of Stari Grad – European Centre of Long Distance Swimming.
James Toomey, USA, 1971
James conceived the idea of the 36K (22.5-mile) Around the Island Swim in Atlantic City, USA in 1953 and served as its race director until 1964.
Carl Walker, Great Britain, 2005
Carl was the British Long Distance Swimming Association president in 1991 and again in 2002 and a president of the Braford Long Distance Swimming Club, one of the first long-distance swimming clubs. For 30 years he served as the Honorary Secretary to the British Long Distance Swimming Association’s Pilot lifesaver scheme.
Billy Wallace, Ireland, 1999
Billy has served as the Honorary Secretary of the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association from 1979.
Johnny Weissmuller, USA, 1970
Johnny was a five-time Olympic champion at the 1924 and 1928 Olympics and was undefeated in freestyle between 1921 and 1929 with his longest swim being the 3.2K (2 miles) Chicago River Race. In 1970, Johnny accepted an assignment as the International Commissioner of Marathon Swimming and represented the sport of marathon swimming and the World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation.
Conrad Wennerberg, USA, 1977
Conrad is best known for his authoritative book, Wind, Waves and Sunburn: A Brief History of Marathon Swimming that is considered to be the most definitive work on marathon swimming. He swam over 12,874K (8,000 miles) while training with his athletes, including Ted Erickson and Dennis Matuch.
He amassed the largest file on marathon swimming in existence and shared the information with the World Professional Swimming Federation and the International Swimming Hall of Fame. He was influential in creating the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.
James Whelan, USA, 2001
James received the prestigious International Swimming Hall Gold Medallion for his efforts to re-establish the 36K (22.5-mile) Around-the-Island Marathon Swim in Atlantic City, USA. As the Mayor of Atlantic City, he also rowed and acted as coach for several swimmers including Claudio Plit and Samantha Chabotar.
William Wrigley, Jr., USA, 1964
William, the chewing gum magnate, was the founder and sponsor of the first Wrigley Ocean Marathon across the Catalina Channel in January 1927 where he offered a $25,000 winner-take-all prize. 102 swimmers started the race, but only Canadian George Young finished and claimed the winner’s purse. He also sponsored the 1927 Canadian National Exhibition race in Toronto with a $30,000 purse.
Major General Ahmed Zorkani, Egypt, 1973
Major Zorkani was the founding member and long-serving secretary of the International Long Distance Swimming Federation and organized the Egyptian Long Distance Swimming Federation. He helped organize the annual Capri-Naples race and other International Long Distance Swimming Federation races held in France, Yugoslavia, Egypt and Lebanon between 1954 and 1967.