Courtesy of International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, Melbourne, Australia.

Sue Guesdon found herself in rarified air. She is now a dual honoree who was inducted as an Honor Administrator in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in its Class of 2019 as well as received the 2019 Irving Davids/Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award from the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

She gave the following speech at the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Melbourne, Australia.

I would like to begin by acknowledging the Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation, the traditional owners of this land on which we meet today & pay my respects to their elders past and present.

Thank you to the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and International Swimming Hall of Fame. This is a massive privilege.

Congratulations to Melissa Roberts, the event manager and the executive for such a fabulous IMSHOF weekend in Melbourne. Do you know that I am Melissa’s lucky charm? Every time I applied her grease, she obviously deliberately went on to win gold.

Once upon a time…a long time ago, exactly 51 summers ago, I was recruited, right out here across Port Phillip Bay in Melbourne during the Truth Big Swim, the legendary 40 km race across this bay.

It is pure coincidence that I am here in this very place again tonight. It seems fate has bookended my career.

But, as I stand before you, this moment is not for me alone. It is for all those volunteer administrators since forever. They make the sport exist.

To you Chris Guesdon, before you, I dreamed of playing Wimbledon, as tennis was my life. Instead, Chris, it was your fierce drive and laser-like focus that did not just bring me to this sport of marathon swimming, it propelled me into it.

For 57 years you have cared. You lift my spirit.

Although we founded events in four countries in Asia and Oceania: the first one was unique. It was while still youngsters in our 20’s we were pioneers living in Papua New Guinea long before independence. I gave birth there. Life in that place back then was clearly adventurous and dangerous.

You may imagine that organizing a marathon swimming event there, as we did, was also truly challenging. It was.

Chris always joked, to everyone who would listen, that sharks were not a problem because the crocodiles ate them all. But in that Gulf, the joke was on him, when the peril they met in the water turned out to be; a multitude of sea snakes.

Since the 1960s I have seen many advances. From line of sight and compass navigation to GPS. From chunky rubber and glass goggles that filled your face to the now small polarized ones. From feeds of hot soup and Sustagen to the now sachets and gels.

I remember well that a jar of Staminade powder would make up 9 liters of drink. So often have I done that.

To the Campions – to Jackie and to Hall of Famer and Olympian Dick. Together we set out on our swimming dreams. For decades, from Tasmania to the world, what a splendid team we made.

As a Tasmanian, I am proud to say four International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honorees have been among those many competitors who have conquered our Australian Long-Distance Swimming Federation swims. Those Australian Championships and marathon swims held in the mighty Derwent River. Those Honourees are four old friends from way back, Philip Rush, Dick Campion, Chris Guesdon and the late Des Renford.

I was a handler in the 1970s legendary English Channel Arab Nations races, particularly in 1977 when my Saudi swimmer was placed. This was full-on, intense and thrilling. The times were all fast.* Noting, this was before GPS.

And I was around in the super era. The era of the World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation and the International Long-Distance Swimming Federation’s worldwide events. Under them, crossings became races.

As one of a group of enthusiasts, I was founding Secretary of the Australian Long-Distance Swimming Federation. The first official Australian touring team was in 1975.

I was handler for Jenny Anderson, Australia’s first open water swimming world medalist. Jenny won silver in the 36 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli under the International Long-Distance Swimming Federation. It was the then World Championships.

A love of ours has been to help advance the sport to other places whenever we could. I have worked on swimming development projects in Southeast Asian and Oceania countries. Included is work with the Indonesian Federation in Bali, Jakarta and Putri Island in the 2000’s.

Very special are those Australian teams with whom I was a volunteer administrator through the 1990’s decade. Particularly those world championship victories at Évian-les-Bains in Lac Leman and in San Felice, Italy. Not to forget winning the 92 km Malta to Sicily International relay in just 19 hours and our many other incredible ventures. Several team members coaches and swimmers of the 1990s are here at the inductions tonight. You have gone down in history as Australia’s most multi gold medal winning teams. You led the world. The 25 km. The cream of swimmers. Racers yet endurance swimmers.

From the 1960’s into the 2000’s. I have organized events and budgets; crewed in straits, channels, gulfs, oceans, lakes and rivers; written myriad newsletters; applied numbers and grease to bodies; judged on boats; lectured internationally; and accompanied solo swimmers on long swims.

This leads me to say thank you to the multitude of swimmers I have known for the courage and desire to achieve their goals. We volunteers were just there to help make it happen for them. And that – absolutely – has been my purpose.

Above all this: To you my daughters Danielle and Martine. For years from your early childhood, and for months on end, our family travelled in camper vans, to swims around the world. What an awesome foursome we made.

To my extended family and friends. It is special to have you here at this induction ceremony.

So, to this award. Since 1970, this award has been upheld by The International Swimming Hall of Fame. I am honored to go on their roll. As I conclude, please remember: That, ‘we rise by lifting others’ and as someone special to me reminded me often, ‘Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.’

August 21st 1977 Arab Nations English Channel Race Results:
1. Nasser El Shazly (Egypt) 8 hours 45 minutes
2. Elsayed Elsadah (Saudi Arabia) 8 hours 52 minutes
4. Alawi Mekki (Saudi Arabia) 8 hours 54 minutes
4. Ossama Rashad (Egypt) 10 hours 20 minutes

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