Courtesy of Joe Grossman, Secretary of the World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation.

Back in 1967, the move to the Olympic Games began under the leadership of Herman Willemse [shown on left], the then president of the World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation, vice president George Park, and Secretary-Treasurer Joe Grossman.

The Federation petitioned the International Olympic Committee to consider adding a marathon swimming event of at least five miles to future Olympic Games.

While the petition did not immediately result in the addition of marathon swimming, the concept resonated in the minds of professional marathon swimmers and was a topic of discussion throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

More concrete ideas and a conceptual layout for a rectangular 10 km open water swim as the official Olympic marathon swimming event were discussed in 1998 between Christopher Guesdon, Dennis Miller and Sid Cassidy at a FINA competition in Italy.

The idea took on a new life of its own and gathered momentum internationally. A detailed race concept that minimized costs and maximized exposure was finally proposed by the Fédération Internationale de Natation Amateur to the IOC in 2005 for a formal vote.

The swimmers and administrators of the World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation initiated a number of concepts that took root in the 1960s from establishing a world professional series of swims to naming world champions.

The members also envisioned and initiated the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in the early 1970s.

According to the documents created and archived by Grossman, Federation members (including professional marathon swimmers and affiliates who paid annual Federation dues) voted unanimously to establish the Marathon Swimming Foundation and Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 1971.

Under the leadership of WPMSF president Cliff Lumsdon, vice president Judy van Berkel de Nijs, and Joe Grossman, the members selected Commander Gerald Forsberg of the Channel Swimming Association in England, Buck Dawson of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and Grossman to nominate, discuss and decide classes of six electees for each year from 1963 (when the World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation began to collect historical data on the sport) through 1970. The following electees were named in May:

1963
*Sir William “Billy” Butlin, Great Britain, Honor Administrator
*Gertrude Ederle, USA, Honor Swimmer
*Marty Sinn, USA, Honor Swimmer [shown above]
*Captain Matthew Webb, Great Britain, Honor Swimmer
*Herman Willemse, Netherlands, Honor Swimmer [shown above]
*George Young, Canada, Honor Swimmer

1964
*Antonio Abertondo, Argentina, Honor Swimmer
*Abdul Latif Abou-Heif, Egypt, Honor Swimmer
*Greta Andersen, Denmark, Honor Swimmer
*Tom Blower, Great Britain, Honor Swimmer
*Judith De Nijs, Netherlands, Honor Swimmer
*William Wrigley, USA, Honor Administrator

1965
*Pedro Candiotti, Argentina, Honor Swimmer
*Brojen Das, Pakistan, Honor Swimmer
*Commander Gerald Forsberg, OBE, RN, Great Britain, Honor Swimmer
*Annette Kellerman, Australia, Honor Swimmer
*General Omar Sabry, Egypt Honor Swimmer
*John Sigmund, USA, Honor Swimmer

1966
*Florence Chadwick, USA, Honor Swimmer
*George Duthie, Canada, Honor Administrator
*Hassan Abdel Rehim, Egypt, Honor Swimmer
*Mihir Sen, India, Honor Swimmer
*Guilio Travaglio, Italy, Honor Swimmer
*Charles Zibleman, USA, Honor Swimmer

1967
*Marilyn Bell, Canada, Honor Swimmer
*Cavill Family, Australia, Honor Swimmers
*Jose Cortinas, Cuba, Honor Swimmer
*Horacio Iglesias, Argentina, Honor Swimmer [shown above]
*Keo Nakama, USA, Honor Swimmer
*Charlotte “Lottie” Schoemmel, USA, Honor Swimmer

1968
*Barrie Devenport, New Zealand, Honor Swimmer
*Otto Kemmerich, Germany, Honor Swimmer
*Linda McGill, Australia, Honor Swimmer
*Tom Park, Canada, Honor Swimmer
*Henry Sullivan, USA, Honor Swimmer
*Jaberz Wolffe, Great Britain, Honor Swimmer

1969
*Mercedes Gleitze, Great Britain, Honor Swimmer
*Carlos Larriera, Argentina, Honor Swimmer
*Cliff Lumsdon, Canada, Honor Swimmer
*Dr. David Smith, USA, Honor Swimmer
*Bert Thomas, USA, Honor Swimmer
*Patty Thompson, Canada, Honor Swimmer

1970
*Robert Dowling, USA, Honor Swimmer
*Helge Jensen, Denmark, Honor Swimmer
*Johanes “John” Schans, Netherlands, Honor Swimmer
*Brenda Sherratt, Great Britain, Honor Swimmer
*Montserrat Tresserras, Spain, Honor Swimmer
*Johnny Weissmuller, USA, Honor Administrator

The early history of the World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation is posted here by Joe Grossman [shown on left]. Grossman worked to create and adopt the WPMSF Constitution while he traveled internationally as a public information officer and took these opportunities to promote marathon swimming while following and documenting professional marathon swims around the world.

The Internatioal Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame website is here.

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