Courtesy of International Swimming Hall of Fame, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The remarkable life, considerable achievements and global reach of ocean-going Bruce Hopping were legendary.

During World War II, Hopping served as a med-evacuation pilot who retrieved the wounded bodies of soldiers and returned them to the base hospital for treatment. On one of his missions, he flew in typhoon conditions to locate a downed American airplane, but his own airplane ran out of fuel and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. For the next several weeks, he and the rescue crew survived the crash, but faced hanging onto a tiny raft in the ocean.

With little hope for rescue, Hopping and his colleagues faced storms and waves before eventually finding themselves drifting towards the Polillo Island in the Philippines. But their unexpected problems continued on dryland. They had to avoid capture by enemy soldiers in the area while using canoes to escape to Manila.

Eventually, he found his way back to the United States and later to Laguna Beach, California. He established the New Jersey Foundation in 1953 and renamed the non-profit organization to the Kalos Kagathos Foundation in 1968.

Among myriad goals, he wanted to create and fund cross-cultural connections between the young and water sports. He described his goals, “Water sports are good for kids, and they are highly overlooked. Students playing football come out with injuries that last them a lifetime. Water sports don’t destroy your body like that. They improve it. It’s important that the sports kids are playing compliment their education, not replace it.”

Over five decades, Hopping’s foundation has contributed to swimming, surfing, water polo, the arts, the environment, and cultural exchanges on six continents. In 2014, he was inducted in the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Pioneer Contributor.

The Kalos Kagathos Foundation organizes trips abroad and offers scholarships to aquatic athletes that can’t afford the travel. “I started the foundation because I wanted to put athletic fitness on a pedestal, much like the Greeks did. I’m trying to perpetuate something that others had figured out long before all of us.”

A celebratory paddle out and ocean swim will take place on June 14th at 4 pm at Thalia Street Beach in Laguna Beach, California [see below].

For more information on his foundation, visit here.

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