Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honors Gary Toner

Sponsored by Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.

Chris Guesdon announced Gary Toner as a member of the inaugural class in the Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.

He explained, “Gary is a coach, contributor and author of articles on open water swimming and open water races. Gary and his wife Coach Suzy Toner, also an inductee, had a significant impact on open water swimming producing 7 marathon swimmers from one club to represent Australia in 25 km events and longer.

The Toner coaching team created a team environment where at the State and National Open Water Championships they would take 20 or more athletes winning the open water point score numerous times. This team philosophy created a nursery of future open water marathon swimmers and a passion for marathon swimming.

Gary attended many marathon swims around the world including the FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships in Australia, the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Japan, FINA World Cup races in Canada, South America, Africa, Europe and the USA. He handled a variety of swimmers including Grant Robinson, Tracey Knowles, Kelly Driffield, Stephen Cresswell and others on the world circuit on every type of craft you can imagine: kayaks, surf skis, row boats, IRBs, yachts, etc.

The Toner team coached Grant Robinson and Kelly Driffield to Guinness World Records for Marathon Swimming in 24 hours which are still standing today 23 years later and had it televised live on Hey Hey It’s Saturday Night with Darryl and Ossie.

Memorable events include handling for Grant Robinson at the 25 km Nile River Marathons in Egypt where he finished first, the 37 km Atlantic City Around the Island Swim where he finished first, the 36 km Traversée internationale du lac Memphrémagog in Canada where he finished first, the 25 km Swim Across the Sound in Connecticut where he finished first, plus many others. He also supported the 93 km Malta – Sicily Relay Swim with Grant, Shelley Taylor-Smith, Joe Mitchell, and Melissa Cunningham. He served as handler for Tracey Knowles on her first Australian team for the 25 km at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Japan, establishing her presence on the world stage. Handling and supporting Stephen Cresswell, Malcolm van Drempt, Kelly Driffield and Shelley Clark, all four making the Australia team for the 1999 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships 25 km in Sydney and Melbourne.

In Australia, races took Team Toner all over the country including Rottnest Channel Swim, Magnetic Island, Penrith Regatta Centre, Manly Dam, Morwell Victoria, Swan River, Murray River, Glenelg Beach, City of Perth, Bond University, Lake Trevallyn in Tasmania, and various Sydney locations racing in rivers, lakes, oceans and dams.

Gary’s proudest moments have been when each one of swimmers below were selected onto the Australian Open Water Swim Team or represented their country on the world stage.

Key Athletes Coached in Open Water 25km or longer:
* Grant Robinson, Australian team member number 490 (AMSHOF)
* Tracey Knowles, Australian team member number 488 (AMSHOF)
* Kelly Driffield, Australian team member number 737
* Madeline Phillips, Australian Oceania and reserve for World Championships 25 km
* Stephen Cresswell, Australian team member number 736
* Malcolm van Drempt, Australian team member number 738
* Shelley Clark, Australian team member number 546
* Adam Shultz, Australian World Cup International

International open water swimmers competing at 1996 and 1998 World Championships and Pan Pacific Games:
* Angela Collett, New Zealand
* Györffy Ákos, Hungary
* Emma Huckins, Papua New Guinea
* Mohamed Marouf, an IMSHOF Honor Swimmer from Egypt also trained with the team

Recently, Gary coached Breanna Ward in 2018 to a successful 23 km Cook Strait in New Zealnd and in 2020 Gary and Suzy handled for swimmers competing in the 20 km Great Keppel Island Swim. Team Toner currently coach and handle for a group of adult marathon swimmers on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. In Gary’s role at the Australian Swim Coaches Association, he gets the opportunity to attend the Australian Open Water Swimming Championships yearly and provides race coverage of the event keeping an active role in open water and marathon swimming.


His coaching accomplishment include:

• ASCTA (Australian Swim Coaches Association) Open Water Coach of the Year 1999
• ASCTA Open Water Team Coach of the Year 1999
• ASCTA Open Water Team Coach of the Year 2000
• ASCTA Honor Roll Coach no 91 for Coach World Short Course Championships 1995 in Brazil
• ASCTA Swimming Journal contributor 1994 to 1998, 2016 to present especially race coverage from around the world for open water swimming
• Presenter at ASCTA conferences 1995, 1996, 1997 on various topics including open water swimming
• Selected on Australian Swim Team as Coach 1994 for FINA World Cup and FINA World Short Course 1995, Pan Pacific Swimming Championships Open Water 1997
• Attended many swimming Australia High Performance Camps from 1992 to 1999 including the Australian Open Water Swimming Camps
• Coach and Head Coach various New South Wales swim teams and camps from 1988 to 1999 for open water swimming
• ASCTA Plaques for putting swimmers on Olympic, Commonwealth, World Championship and Pan Pacific Teams from 1994 to 1999
• Received FINA Olympic Coaching Award for Oceania Region in 1992
• Gold Swim Coach with Open Water Swimming accreditation

The inaugural class of Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame honourees inducted on August 2020 include:

Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honourees – Class of 2020:
* Jennifer Anderson
* Lauren Arndt
* David Bates
* Clive Berry Rickards
* Kate Brookes-Peterson
* Roger Bruce
* Tamara Bruce
* Richard Campion
* Brendan Capell
* Graeme Carroll
* Cavill Family
* Melissa Cunningham
* William Ford
* Melissa Gorman
* Trent Grimsey
* Christopher Guesdon
* Susanne Guesdon
* Kevin Holtom
* Annette Kellerman
* Tracy Knowles
* John Koorey
* Susie Maroney OAM
* Chloë McCardel
* Linda McGill MBE
* Joseph Mitchell
* Lynton Mortensen
* David O’Brien OAM
* Penny Palfrey
* James Pittar
* Des Renford MBE
* Grant Robinson
* Rottnest Channel Swim Association
* Mark Saliba
* Josh Santacaterina
* Shelley Taylor-Smith
* Gary Toner
* Suzanne Toner

For more information, visit the Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Facebook here with Instagram @amshofame.

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