Every year, the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (IMSHOF) honors its marathon swimming heroes and champions. The inductees of the IMSHOF Class of 2012 join 220 other members of this esteemed group of aquatic adventurers.
Chris Green (Great Britain), Maarten van der Weijden (Netherlands), Larisa Ilchenko (Russia), David Parcells (USA) and Marcos Díaz (Dominican Republic) were voted into the (IMSHOF) as Honor Swimmers.
Sri Chinmoy (India) and Ned Denison (Ireland) were inducted as Honor Administrators. The Faros Maratón in Croatia and the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association were inducted as Honor Organisations.
Drury Gallagher (USA) is this year’s recipient of the Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award while Chad Hundeby (USA), and Des Renford (Australia) were recipients of the International Swimming Hall of Fame Finalists Certificate of Merit while Eleanor Studley Hurd (USA) was recipient of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Certificate of Merit.
Honor swimmers are nominated and selected because they are recognized as world leaders and champions in the sport of marathon swimming. They are the elite and the world’s finest based on their careers as athletes, coaches, administrators, pilots and luminaries. The nominees are voted upon by the members of the IMSHOF board of directors.
This year’s IMSHOF honorees include:
Chris Green – Honor Swimmer
Chris Green has participated in marathon swims as a competitor around the world, served as an administrator, and was an innovator and pioneer. He completed swims across all 16 lakes in the Lake District in England in 2000. He has crossed Morecambe Bay north of Blackpool, England 51 times. He swam across the Strait of Gibraltar in a cage, swum in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and 23 times Windermere, England. He swam 26 miles around Walney Island, 16 across Lake Zurich in Switzerland, 10 miles around Robben Islands, 16 miles from Capri to Napoli in Italy, swum around Manhattan Island, done the Swim Around Key West in Florida, and swam 35 miles from Sombrero Key to Alligator Reef in Florida.
Maarten van der Weijden – Honor Swimmer (shown above)
Maarten van der Weijden was the gold medalist in the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
A renowned Dutch marathon swimmer from Alkmaar, he is most famously known for being the only leukemia cancer survivor to win an Olympic gold medal. Van der Weijden was known as a promising swimming talent in his youth and was Dutch national champion in the pool and open water.
In 2001, he was confronted with leukemia and his career was considered over. He fought back against cancer and made a comeback in 2003 winning three Dutch national titles. In 2004, he swam across the IJsselmeer in 4 hours 20 minutes, setting the record by almost 15 minutes and collecting €50,000 that he donated for cancer research.
He finished fifth in the 2005 World Swimming Championships in the 10K and sixth in the 25K in Canada. He also won three FINA World Cup competitions and continued to gradually move up the ranking. He won the 25K at the 2008 World Open Water Swimming Championships in Sevilla, Spain. He also won a bronze medal at the 5K and was fourth in the 10K. At the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim, he won in dramatic fashion, coming from far back in the pack and narrowly edging out favorites David Davies of Great Britain and Thomas Lurz of Germany down the final straightaway.
He announced the end of his professional swimming career during his acceptance speech as 2008 Dutch Sportsman of the Year award ceremonies. He continues to speak eloquently as a motivational speaker and is a spokesperson for Unilever and blueseventy. He has also written a popular autobiography, documenting his life’s journey on land and in the water.
Larisa Ilchenko – Honor Swimmer
Larisa Dmitriyevna Ilchenko was the gold medalist in the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Identified as a world-class swimmer with greater potential in the open water than the pool at the age of 14, she regularly won her races with a classic come-from-behind victory sprint over the last 100 meters. Throughout her remarkable career, the Russian open water swimming star won eight World Championships between 2005 and 2008 and culminated her career at the 2008 Beijing Olympics at age 19. She was been named Swimming World Magazine’s World Female Open Water Swimmer of the Year and dominated the elite open water swimming world since her first FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships in 2004, where she won the 5K at the age of 16.
At the 2005 FINA World Swimming Championships in Montreal, she won the 5K again. At the 2006 FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships in Napoli, Italy, she doubled up with victories in the 5K and 10K, again winning with her trademark closing sprint. By 2007 and 2008, the juggernaut was firmly established and she confidently swaggered her way onshore while dominating the last part of every race she swam. Her career culminated at the 2008 Beijing Olympics 10K Marathon Swim when she won the first gold in open water swimming in very dramatic fashion.
David Parcells – Honor Swimmer
David Parcells was an American marathon swimmer who was posthumously honored by the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. David passed away in 2007 while competing in the Tampa Bay Marathon Swim in Florida.
He completed the 1989 Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii. Parcells was the first non-professional swimmer to complete the Long Island Swim crossing and is the current record holder as the oldest person to complete a double-crossing of the English Channel. Parcells became the marathon swim director of the St. Vincent’s Medical Center Swim Across the Sound, which has raised over $2 million for cancer.
Marcos Díaz – Honor Swimmer
Marcos Díaz is one of the world’s most prolific marathon swimmers of modern times.
He completed the Swim Across The Continents, a series of marathon swims endorsed by the United Nations, and celebrated International Coastal Cleanup Day with a 22K solo swim along the north shore of the Dominican Republic. He is one of the United Nations Development Program Goodwill Ambassadors.
Marcos has also done the 81K Bhagirathi River swim in India, won the International Crossing of the Toroneos Gulf in Greece 3 times, and competed in swims in Hong Kong, Dominican Republic, Croatia, Greece, Florida, Australia and Argentina where he did 3 pro races: Hernandarias-Parana in 88 kilometers in 9 hours 42 minutes in Argentina, Rosario Marathon in 9 kilometers in 1 hour 31 minutes in Argentina, and Santa Fe-Coronda, 57 kilometers in 8 hours 5 minutes in Argentina.
Sri Chinmoy – Honor Administrator
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.
Ned Denison – Honor Administrator
Ned Denison 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.
The Faros Maratón Swim in Croatia – Honor Organisation
The Croatian International Long Distance Swimming Championship, also known as the Faros Maratón Swim, has developed over the last 36 years from a small provincial marathon swim into a world-class event drawing the international elite.
The professional race is 16 kilometers in the sea of Stari Grad Bay on Hvar Island and takes place in the month of August. 1,089 athletes from 42 countries have taken part in this international celebration.
As one of the leading sports events in Croatia, it was previously known as the Yugoslav International Long Distance Swimming Championship where it continued to host their event even despite war conditions.
Drury Gallagher (USA) is this year’s recipient of the Irving Davids – Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award
Drury Gallagher is a visionary who restarted the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, one of the world’s most iconic marathon swims. Due to his hard-work in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, New York City is now a dynamic hotbed of marathon swimming, world renowned for its Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. As a swimmer, Drury set 27 FINA Masters world records and later founded the Manhattan Island Swimming Association that will be his legacy as a memorial to his son, Drury, Jr. who died in a tragic accident.
He is inducted in the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame and the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Administrator.
Irish Long Distance Swimming Association ( ILDSA) – Honor Organisation
The ILDSA was founded in 1966 with the aim of promoting open water swimming. Honourary Secretary John Moffett organised four events in its first season. Since the auspicious beginning, the ILDSA has organised over 300 open water events, providing thousands of swimmers an opportunity to compete at the highest levels. It was inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 2011 as an Honor Organisation.
The ILDSA established development races that introduce pool swimmers to the outdoor environment. The core of the ILDSA calendar remains races in Belfast Lough, Dublin Bay, Shannon Esturary, Gaulway Bay, Lough Neagh, Carlingford Lough, and Rathlin Sound. Lough Erne is its major annual championship. These races served as competition for all. For some, these races also helped prepare the swimmers for the English Channel. Indeed, many of today’s Channel Swimmers test themselves in ILDSA events in Clew Bay, Co. Mayo and the annual Championships at Lough Erne before attempting the English Channel. The consistent, high standard of the ILDSA events and its contributions have long been internationally recognised: the ILDSA received the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Award of Merit in 1995. In addition to promoting races, the ILDSA has sought to set standards in marathon swimming challenges. It provided relay teams that were the first to swim the North Channel and the length of Lough Neagh. The ILDSA has also provided observers for North Channel attempts and individual swims in all parts of Ireland and a nationwide support network to encourage and recognize those who challenge the waterways of Ireland.
Chad Hundeby (USA) received the International Swimming Hall of Fame Certificate of Merit. Chad was inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 1996 as an Honor Swimmer for a number of exploits during his illustrious career where he won the 1991 world 25K championship and numerous professional marathon swimming competitions. He also set the world record for the English Channel in 7 hours and 17 minutes, breaking the previous record by 23 minutes. He was honored as the Open Water Swimmer of the Year by the USA Swimming in 1991, 1993 and 1994, and set two Catalina Channel records – a solo crossing in 1993 in 8 hours and 14 minutes and a relay crossing in 1989 in 7 hours and 2 minutes.
Eleanor Studley Hurd (USA) received the International Swimming Hall of Fame Certificate of Merit. Eleanor was an American swimmer who become the first woman to swim the Hellespont between Europe and Asia in Turkey in 1929. She swam the Hellespont in 80 minutes, beating two other female competitors. Known also as the Dardanelles, this strait is famous for its currents and strong winds. Except for a bit of sidestroke, Eleanor swam freestyle most all of the distance. She was coached by Karl Michael, later Dartmouth College coach.
Des Renford (Australia) received the International Swimming Hall of Fame Certificate of Merit. He successfully swam the English Channel 19 times from 19 attempts, although he took up marathon swimming at the age of 39. His English Channel crossings included 3 in 10 days in 1980. From 1975 – 1979 and for a period in 1980 he held the title of King of the Channel®. In 1977, he broke the record for swimming around Alcatraz Island by 23 minutes. He authored an autobiography with numerous stories of his marathon swimming experiences around the world. He was inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 1978 as an Honor Swimmer and by the International Swimming Hall of Fame with a Certificate of Merit in 2011. He appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) and was a Papal knight of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre before experiencing his fourth heart attack while swimming in 1999 which he never recovered. His legacy lives on.
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