The opening address of the 2017 Congress of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame was given by Christopher Guesdon with the support of the Executive Committee of Ned Denison, Beth Yudovin, Melissa Cunningham, and Dale Petranech.
“In today’s congress I will shortly go through the agenda and before we make any suggestions or provide any answers this room should firstly bear in mind why the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame exists and our charter.
The International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Mission Statement: Its Mission is to promote the benefits and importance of traditional and competitive marathon swimming as a key to fitness, good health, quality of life, and water safety.
We do this by maintaining a dynamic shrine dedicated to the history and recognition of marathon (open water) swimmers, including persons involved in life-saving activities of administration, general support, education and environmental awareness throughout the world, whose lives and accomplishments serve to inspire, educate, and to be role models for all.
o We do not give awards.
o We do not conduct events.
o We do not endorse events.
o We do not set rules.
o We do not document swims.
The world of open water swimming reaches all corners of the globe.
It should never be considered by us that our own continent or hemisphere is the centre of the sport of marathon swimming. Our own backyard and our own community of swimmers are not the centre of the marathon swimming universe. There are different generations of marathoners who have gone before ours and will follow long after this generation has retired.
Time does not stand still and progress happens. We now have
We cannot hold back sports science and the progress that evolves from it. One example is to compare the large rubber goggles that I first wore in the 1960s to today’s sleek models or compare Captain Matthew Webb’s swimsuit to your briefs.
FINA decided to change their swimsuit rules for swimmer safety and we now accept the regulations of FINA or lose generations of superb marathoners from Induction.
We accept the rules and regulations of other organisations under whose jurisdiction someone participates.
There are around the world many remarkable marathoners from the 1950s through to the 1980s. These swimmers and administrators, coaches and pilots cover 40 years of marathons. Some share their memories and communicate with each other. Others move on from their past endeavours altogether. Most are NOT connected with the current generation.
These are the countries, communities, groups and individuals who we the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame are interested in embracing and honouring. We frequently hear reports and receive nominations about lifetime career achievements and events in Europe – North America and Australia and New Zealand, but we need to embrace the rest of the world.
Oceania is an example: Oceania through Australia and New Zealand is well known for our history of swimming in the ocean. Oceania is, of course, made up of many island nations and swimming is always featured as part of the national identity. However, we should be reminded that the Asian open water scene has a multitude of elite racing competitors and individual distance swimmers over a long history of competing and swimming.
I have had the privilege of being involved in contemporary development in all quarters of the world.
As a prime example my knowledge of Indonesia shows that over a decade they have developed professional and competitive marathon swimming.
Of course, other nations such as Hong Kong, China, Japan and India have historically well-established marathon events and courses in oceans, lakes and rivers and over centuries people have done remarkable things in lesser-known venues. The same applies to South America, the Middle East and Africa.
The point I would like to make is that the world of marathon swimming is vast.
We are in the moment right now, but so are those many others who are not a part of what we conceive as OUR open water swimming community. The International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame charter is to honour our inspirational marathoners from the whole wide world from the past, present and in the future.
Welcome one and all to this congress and we look forward to your input.”
Photo above shows Christopher Guesdon, one of the architects of the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim which has brought at swimmers from 30 countries in 2008, 35 countries in 2012, and 29 countries in 2016. He gave the following toast at the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame induction ceremonies on April 22nd in Windsor, UK:
To the Class of 2017, Marathoners, Everybody
As Chairman of the Hall of Fame and on behalf of our Executive – Dale, Beth, Melissa and Ned I wish you one and all a warm welcome. We are delighted to have you here.
That many of you have traveled long distances serves to remind us all just how important our inductions are to the marathon swimming world. This year, we are pleased to be back to where it all began therefore tonight. I pay tribute to Captain Matthew Webb.
In the Class of 2017, we have 9 people join the 252 previous inductees.* During the evening you will hear their stories of distinction. The nine inductees embody the spirit and legacy of our Hall of Fame. Their names will be engraved on our iconic Sea Goddess to be revered forever.
Our Hall Of Fame is truly a worldwide organisation. Tonight’s inductees hail from Oceania, Europe, North America and South America and these elite people before you tonight have been elected by our voting panel of 29 marathon swimming experts drawn from 14 countries.
So, this evening I welcome you here to enjoy the night as we share our love of marathon swimming.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please charge your glasses and be upstanding. For the toast to the Class of 2017.
* Stephen Redmond (Ireland), Asociación Cruce A Nado Del Estrecho De Gibraltar (Spain), Ricardo Ratto (Brazil), David O’Brien (Australia), Mickey Pittman (USA) and John Pittman (USA), Richard Broer (Netherlands), Tamara Bruce (Australia), David Barra (USA), and Colin Hill (Great Britain) comprise of the Class of 2017. Their backgrounds are posted here.
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