Photo courtesy of Getty Images shows William ‘Bill’ Goll after finishing second to Marvin Nelson in the Canadian National Exhibition. Nelson won US$5,000 for first and Goll won US$1,500 for second in the 15-mile world championship on September 1st 1934.

Bill Goll, An Early American Open Water Swimming Pioneer

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

William “Bill” Goll was an American pioneer in the early days of competitive open water swimming.  The New Yorker was born about 1908.  To make ends meet, he traveled as a high diver with a carnival during the Great Depression between 1945-1949.

He was inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honour Swimmer in the Class of 2010.  He was not only a member of the World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation, but he also finished second in the 1940 Manhattan Island Marathon Swim and competed in 9 Canadian National Exhibition swims, one of the most prestigious marathon races of its era, between 1941 and 1954 including a second-place finish to Marvin Nelson where he won US$1,500 (worth nearly US$16,000 in current dollars).

In the later stages of his career, Goll participated in at least five 22.5-mile swims around Atlantic City in New Jersey between 1954 and 1959, always finishing in the top 10 despite being between 46 and 51 years old.

In order to make ends meet, Goll doubled as a high diver and traveled with a carnival during the Great Depression years between 1935 and 1939.

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