We are proud to announce that Rebecca Soni, a six-time Olympian, will be inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2020 in April. ---⠀ Soni has won a total of 22 medals in major international competition. 14 gold, seven silver, and one bronze spanning the Olympic, World, Universiade, and the Pan Pacific Championships. She burst onto the international scene at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games where she won three medals, two silvers and a gold. During those Games, she set the world record in the 200 breast, shocking Australian favorite Leisel Jones. Four years later at the 2012 Olympics, Soni successfully defended her Olympic title in the 200m, again in world record time, becoming the first woman to do so in the breaststroke event. She was named Swimming World's World Swimmer of the Year in 2010 and 2011, and the American Swimmer of the Year in 2009, 2010 and 2011
At age 16, Miss Marilyn Bell was inspired when she learned that American star swimmer, ISHOF Honoree, Florence Chadwick, was being offered a $10,000 purse to complete a swim across Lake Ontario. Bell wanted the honor to go to a Canadian swimmer. Three swimmers showed up for the attempt with waves of almost 5 meters (15 feet), water temperature of 21°C (65°F) and hungry lamprey eels lurking. The other two dropped out, but Bell continued. The 20-hour, 59 minutes swim was covered by live radio broadcasts and special newspaper “extras”.
Marilyn Bell, in her Lake Shore jacket; Photo Courtesy: Marilyn Bell
As a result, her landing was witnessed by a crowd of 300,000 people in Toronto. Bell was awarded the purse. This young woman’s courage and achievement resulted in the Canadian Press naming her the Canadian Newsmaker of the Year in 1954.
Meet Bell in person and hear her incredible life story at the ISHOF Induction dinner on Saturday, April 25, 2020. Become an ISHOF Legacy Member and attend the ISHOF Induction Dinner for FREE. Can’t attend the event? Please consider donating to ISHOF, support Bell and our other inspirational Honorees.
Canadian Marilyn Bell became the youngest person to swim the English Channel.
About Marilyn Bell
Bell went on to become the youngest person to swim the English Channel. She later swam the Strait of Juan de Fuca off the Pacific coast – her woman’s speed record held for more than 60 years! Bell became a Canadian hero, and the awards and recognition include: Induction into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and the Ontario Swimming Hall of Fame. She was named one of Canada’s top athletes of the century and was presented with the Order of Ontario.
George Young, Ed Sullivan, Marilyn Bell, and Cliff Lumsdon in 1954
The Canadian National Historic Sites and Monuments Board designated Bell’s crossing of the lake an Event of National Historic Significance (Canada) and a federal plaque was erected near the site of her landfall. In addition, the land was named the Marilyn Bell Park.
Marilyn Bell teaching children to swim
About the International Swimming Hall of Fame Induction Weekend:
The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) Induction Ceremony is shaping up to be a star-studded weekend with multiple events spread out over two days in beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Make your plans now to attend the weekend of April 24-25, 2020! ISHOF Members can purchase the Complete Weekend Package (see below) and save! (Get info on membership here.) Can’t attend the event? Donate to ISHOF to support our honorees.
This year’s International Swimming Hall of Fame Honorees include:
HONOR SWIMMERS: Brendan Hansen (USA), Michael Klim (AUS), Jon Sieben (AUS), Rebecca Soni (USA), and Daichi Suzuki (JPN)
HONOR COACH: Ursula Carlile (AUS) and David Marsh (USA)
HONOR CONTRIBUTOR: Bob Duenkel*(USA) and Peter Hurzeler (SUI)
In addition to the Class of 2020, two Honorees from the Class of 2019, who were unable to attend last year, will be present to be inducted. Honor Swimmer: Otylia Jedrzejczak (POL) and Honor Diver: Li Ting (CHN).
Upscale retreat with private beach access, two pools, four restaurants, full service spa and oceanside bar. Location of the Saturday evening induction ceremony. ¼ mile south of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
3030 Holiday Drive, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33316 (954) 525-4000
Photo: Philip Lange/Shutterstock Matthew Meltzer Nov 15, 2019 HALLS OF FAME weren’t originally meant for sports. The country’s first hall of fame was a sculpture garden dedicated to great Americans on the University Heights campus at NYU. That was back in 1900, and it was 39 years before baseball’s hall of fame opened its doors. Since then high schools, colleges, and pro teams both major and minor league have opened their own halls of fame. As well as halls — both real and virtual — for nearly every sport you can think of. Some of those halls, however, come with world-class museums attached too. Or at least exhibits that will teach you more than you ever knew about the sport. Here are 18 around North America you should absolutely visit. 1. National Soccer Hall of Fame — Frisco, Texas
Photo: National Soccer Hall of Fame Part of Toyota Stadium in Frisco, one of the newer halls tells the story of how soccer became a viable pro sport in the US. Beyond simple history and artifacts from over 200 inductees, the interactive museum offers stand-up platforms where guests can test their skills against video versions of soccer legends. It’s also the first US hall to use facial recognition software, so exhibits respond to visitors as they walk through.
Admission: $15 2. International Gymnastics Hall of Fame — Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Oklahoma might seem an odd place to put the gymnastics hall of fame until you realize Shannon Miller, Bart Conner, and Nadia Comaneci all live there. The museum sits inside Science Museum Oklahoma, a permanent exhibition of gymnastics history and hand-drawn portraits of its 98 inductees. Admission: $16 3. NASCAR Hall of Fame — Charlotte, North Carolina
Photo: ZikG/Shutterstock This attachment to the Charlotte Convention Center tells the almost-unbelievable story of how a meeting at a hotel in Daytona Beach, Florida, launched the most successful auto racing league in history. You’ll walk up a ramp with replica cars banked on turns from different tracks then enter the hall of its 50 inductees. There’s also an interactive section, with stock car simulators and air-powered tools so you can time yourself changing tires like a NASCAR pit crew. Word to the wise: Avoid this area when school groups are visiting. Admission: $25 4. International Swimming Hall of Fame — Ft. Lauderdale, Florida This building, which sits between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean, is home to a massive collection of aquatic artifacts paying tribute to the best in swimming, water polo, diving, and synchronized swimming. You’ll also learn about US presidents who were also accomplished swimmers and see wraps, uniforms, and Olympic medals from the sport’s greatest athletes. Admission: $8 5. National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum — Cooperstown, New York
Photo: PurpleHousePhotos/Shutterstock Perhaps America’s most revered hall of fame, the Baseball Hall of Fame is home to 323 inductees with names like Ruth, Mantle, Mays, and Aaron topping the list. It sits in the quaint village of Cooperstown, nestled next to a lake in the Catskill Mountains, and draws over a quarter-million visitors a year. The exhibits feature items from some of the game’s most memorable moments, alongside uniforms that date back over 100 years. And for those looking for a heavy dose of childhood nostalgia, no museum comes close. Admission: $23 6. Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum — Wichita Falls, Texas Just to clear up any confusion, there is also a National Wrestling Hall of Fame with locations in Waterloo, Iowa, and Stillwater, Oklahoma, dedicated to talented grapplers and world-class athletes, exactly zero of whom you’ve probably heard of. But if you wanna see the tights, costumes, and props you saw on Monday Night RAW, head to Wichita Falls to this unofficial museum, which is adorned with more pro wrestling artifacts than you’ll find in a single other place. Plus, admission costs less than lunch.
Admission: $3 7. World Golf Hall of Fame — St. Augustine, Florida
Photo: World Golf Hall of Fame Much like the game itself, golf’s hall of fame is a serene, relaxing experience set along an idyllic lake in historic St. Augustine. Just a few miles from the PGA Tour’s headquarters in Ponte Vedra, the World Golf Hall of Fame isn’t just a museum but an entire village complete with hotels, golf courses, and the PGA Tour academy where you improve your game after being inspired by the greats. Admission: $20.95 8. Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame — Springfield, Massachusetts One of the more architecturally interesting halls of fame sits in the “birthplace of basketball” just off Route 91 in Springfield, Massachusetts. The building is meant to look like a giant, light-covered basketball going into a net, and while the proportions are a little off from the real thing, it’s still a sight to behold. Inside, you’ll find the story of the game alongside exhibits on the over-400 inductees. Plus, a full-sized basketball court that plays host to high school and college competitions. Admission: $25 9. World Chess Hall of Fame — St. Louis, Missouri
Photo: Philip Rozenski/Shutterstock Since most Americans can’t name a single chess player after Bobby Fischer, this museum in St. Louis’s Central West End offers a lot more than a tribute to the game’s greats. You’ll also find chess-inspired art exhibits, classical music concerts, and even artist-designed mini-golf. There’s also exhibits on the game’s evolution in both the US and the world, with both American and international halls honoring its best players. Admission: suggested donation of $3 per person 10. Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame — Colorado Springs, Colorado A sport where animals are half the attraction seems an appropriate hall of fame to offer animal interactions. During the summer, the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame brings in retired bucking broncos, and guests have the opportunity to learn the horses’ contribution to the sport. Summer also features live roping competitions and convention rodeos, adding an element of action to a museum visit. And you’ll get an education in the history of pro rodeo and its role is Western culture inside the galleries.
Admission: $8 11. Hockey Hall of Fame — Toronto, Ontario
Photo: Pe3k/Shutterstock Unlike most sports, where a new championship trophy is minted each year, hockey has but one Stanley Cup. And it lives in this 57,000 square foot museum at Brookfield Place in downtown Toronto. In addition to seeing the Cup, you’ll also tour the great hall with tributes to its 411 inductees, as well as walk through a replica Montreal Canadiens locker room and a terrifying wall of goalie masks. You’ll also have a chance to see if you can fill Don Cherry’s shoes when you call a game at the Broadcast Zone. Admission: $20 12. World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame — Colorado Springs, Colorado We kind of take for granted that figure skaters are able to spin themselves through thin air, do flips, and land perfectly on a razor-thin metal blade. The physics of it all is mind-blowing — and broken down for you explicitly at America’s foremost figure skating museum. You’ll also see outfits worn during Olympic and national competitions, as well as figure-skating inspired art. Admission: $5 13. International Boxing Hall of Fame — Canastota, New York
Photo: International Boxing Hall of Fame/Facebook For a sport that dates back centuries, boxing has a relatively new hall of fame, only opening its doors in 1989. The exhibits inside tell the long history of the sport, with gloves and apparel from the 1900s, championship belts, and trunks worn by great champions. You’ll also have the chance to watch classic fights you may have only heard about and see the actual ring from Madison Square Garden where Muhammad Ali fought Joe Frazier in 1971. Admission: $13.50 14. International Volleyball Hall of Fame — Holyoke, Massachusetts The first thing you’ll learn upon going to the volleyball hall of fame is that volleyball was, in fact, invented at a YMCA in Holyoke in 1895. You’ll see how the sport went quickly from a cold New England gym to the sands of Hawaii 20 years later, and how the game on sand surpassed its indoor predecessor in popularity. Though most of the 130 inductees aren’t names you’ll necessarily know, the museum is still a fascinating look at a game so many play but know little about. Admission: $8 15. International Tennis Hall of Fame — Newport, Rhode Island
Photo: Joy Brown/Shutterstock Tennis holds the distinction of being the only hall of fame set in a National Historic Landmark, the grand Newport Casino that played host to the first US Men’s National Singles Championship in 1881. The casino’s grass court still hosts matches from time to time, but the main draw is the museum, full of rackets, outfits, and other remnants from the sport’s 900-plus years. In addition to learning how the professional game has evolved from its genteel roots in the 1800s, you’ll also have a chance to get some tips on your game from a holographic Roger Federer, and whisper your way through calling a classic match. Admission: $15 16. Pro Football Hall of Fame — Canton, Ohio Pro football offers one of the eerier halls of fame, where its enshrinees all have bronze busts lining the main gallery, giving visitors the feeling of walking through a room of floating heads. Not weird enough for you? Head to the “Game for Life” theater where long-dead legends George Halas and Vince Lombardi give holographic presentations. That weirdness aside, the museum has an unbelievable collection of Super Bowl artifacts and is also home to the Black College Football Hall of Game. Admission: $26 17. National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame — Saratoga Springs, New York
Photo: Philip Rozenski/Shutterstock Since the most legendary names in horse racing are, appropriately, horses, this tribute to the sport of kings in upstate New York is as much an art museum as a showcase of the athletes. Guests can wander among 70 sculptures that capture the power and beauty of thoroughbreds and transport themselves to a time when horse racing was more popular than football through an extensive photo exhibit. The physical hall of fame — where you’ll see jockey colors and plaques honoring the horses, jockeys, and trainers who ruled the track — is under renovation now but will reopen in July 2020. Admission: $10 18. Bass Fishing Hall of Fame — Springfield, Missouri Think you caught a pretty impressive fish on your last bass excursion in the Ozarks? See how you stack up to some of the world’s best anglers at the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame. This relatively new hall opened in 2017 as part of Johnny Morris’s Wonder of Wildlife, an exquisite recreation of most of the world’s landscapes and environments, complete with an aquarium that feels like walking inside a shipwreck. Admission: $29.95
With the 32nd Olympiad slated for next summer in Japan, Swimming World will tip its cap to history. Through its “Takeoff to Tokyo” series, the magazine will examine some of the most significant moments in Olympic lore.
In another hemisphere, as winter gave way to spring, a unique era dawned. Nearly two decades ago, there was belief a group of fresh-faced boys could emerge as mainstays for United States Swimming. As they raced over eight days at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, experts could not help but ask: “Is something special happening here?”
History has proven, time and again, that not all rising talents realize their touted potential. So, strictly from a mathematical perspective, the odds were against these six teenage guys to do what they did.
It’s not that teenagers are unusual on the global scene. Rather, for several to emerge on a simultaneous path—and then continue to grow their careers—is what sets the Sydney Six aside as a distinct group. More, their individual stories included unique arcs.
There was Michael Phelps and the beginning of his climb to the top of Mount Olympus. There was the precocious sprinter in Anthony Ervin, who later in his career would write an epic comeback tale. While Maine-raised Ian Crocker emerged from an unusual locale, Aaron Peirsol was next in a long line of Southern California talents to make his name known. For Klete Keller, an under-the-radar approach became the norm. Then there was Erik Vendt, whose training tenacity and grinder personality served him well.
The scenario that unfolded for Michael Phelps, Anthony Ervin, Ian Crocker, Aaron Peirsol, Klete Keller and Erik Vendt could very well remain unmatched.
To read more about each swimmer of the Sydney 6, check out the November issue of Swimming World, out now!
In his first Remembrance Day tribute in Canberra today, Australian Governor-General David Hurley AC DSC, has paid tribute to legendary Olympic swimming gold medallist Cecil Healy – who remains the only Australian Olympic gold medallist to lose his life in the line of duty.
And sadly a man whose extraordinary deeds are still lost on many Australians.
General Hurley, himself a former senior Army officer who spent more than four decades in the military, delivered a moving and fitting commemorative address, honouring Healy, who had won gold in the 4x200m freestyle relay at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm.
CECIL HEALY: Olympic gold medallist and War Hero Photos Courtesy:Healy Family Collection.
And who is also remembered for one of the most selfless acts of sportsmanship in Olympic history.
Healy, aged 33, lost his life serving with the Australian Imperial Forces during the Great War of 1914-18, a man who went on to enlist as an infantry platoon commander “despite his reservations about the causes and justification for the war” said General Hurley.
“Cecil Healy had no love of the military,” said General Hurley “No desire to fight. But he recognised that his values and his freedom was threatened.
“Reluctantly, he chose to serve, fully understanding the risk contained in that decision. In that, he is an example to us today….and we shall be forever grateful to the thousands of men and women, like Cecil, who we remember today.”
It was three years after his Olympic glory that Healy enlisted in the AIF on September 15, 1915 and after service as a quartermaster sergeant in the Army Service Corps in Egypt and France the champion Manly lifesaver and Olympic gold medallist transferred to the infantry officer school at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he swam, rowed, boxed and played rugby.
On June 1, 1918 he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 19th (Sportsman’s) Battalion but was killed in his first action in the battle for Mont St Quentin, The Somme, on August 29 – just 74 days before the World War I Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918 and commemorated today.
DUKE KAHANAMOKU: Olympic champion and father of surfing. Photo Courtesy: Kahanamoku Collection.
And General Hurley’s due praise for Healy [Video of the speech at ABC] continued when he described as “the greatest act of sportsmanship in Olympic history” for Healy’s brave decision, when before the semi-finals of the 100m freestyle at the Stockholm Games, the US team, including race favourite Duke Kahanamoku had failed to arrive, he led a protest not to swim without Duke.
After a stand-off brought the Olympic swimming events to a stand-still, officials eventually agreed to wait for the Americans and it was Kahanamoku who went on to win the gold in 1:03.4 from Healy (1:04.6) with a second American Ken Huszagh taking the bronzed in 1:05.6.
The dramatic circumstance forged a friendship between Cecil and Duke that saw the Hawaiian “Father of Surfing” come to Sydney in 1915.
Healy helped organise Kahanamoku’s history-making visit, an adventure that inspired generations of surfboard riders – introducing the pastime to Freshwater Beach – where his surfboard remains in the club’s Hall of Champions (and it is fitting that in 2020, the sport of surfing will make its Olympic debut in Tokyo).
In his 2019 book “Cecil Healy – A Biography”1960 Rome 100m freestyle gold medallist John Devitt, with co-author Larry Writer, wrote “Healy refused to swim in the 100-metres final unless the Duke, the favourite, was allowed to compete. The great Hawaiian had missed his semi-final after a misunderstanding over the starting time. Healy’s gesture cost him victory but earned him a place in sport’s pantheon of true champions.”
Devitt, another true champion who had long seen Healy as his hero, with their lives travelling down such similar paths in sport and in life and it had been a life long ambition of Devitt’s to travel to The Somme to visit Healy’s grave and honour his fellow Olympic champion with a detailed biography of his life.
STOCKHOLM OLYMPIC 4x200m freestyle relay gold medallists Les Boardman, Malcolm Champion (NZL), Cecil Healy and Harold Hardwick Photo Courtesy: Healy Family Collection.
At the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Devitt had been part of the Australian gold medal-winning 4x200m freestyle relay team with Jon Henricks, Murray Rose and Kevin O’Halloran – 44 years after Healy had won the same gold medal with Leslie Boardman, Malcolm Champion (NZL) and Harold Hardwick in Stockholm.
(Ironically it was another 44 year gap between Olympic gold medal victories, when Ian Thorpe, Michael Klim, Todd Pearson and Bill Kirby also won gold in the 4x200m freestyle).
Such was Devitt’s feelings for his hero, when Manly Council chose to honour Devitt (like Healy a long time Manly Swimming Swimming Club member) by naming their new eight-lane indoor pool after the 1956 and 1960 Olympic champion.
But Devitt convinced the powers-that-be to change the name to the Devitt-Healy pool.
Devitt, also a former Australian Olympic Committee executive, was one of the men instrumental in getting the Olympics to Sydney in 2000.
He told Robert Patterson of the Manly Daily that it was important to him to have Healy’s name next to his as a “tangible memento.”
ROME OLYMPIC 100m freestyle champion John Devitt. Photo Courtesy: John Devitt.
Former Manly Mayor Jean Hay had originally planned to name the pool after Mr Devitt, but after talks with him, she asked the Northern Beaches Council to change it. Ms Hay, a long time supporter of the Olympics and sport, said she had known Mr Devitt since she was 12 and said he was deserving of the recognition.
“I regard myself as having had a similar life (to Cecil Healy),” said Devitt, “We have enjoyed a great escalator, we have been successful but when the discussion came up I thought Cecil should have been recognised…and I said our names should be associated.”
Patterson wrote that the humble act by Mr Devitt was fitting, given Mr Healy’s reputation as one of Australia’s most honourable sportsmen for his unselfish act in 1912 that would have certainly seen him win that individual Olympic gold.
As an elite young swimmer, as a resident of Manly on Sydney’s northern beaches, where Healy once lived, and as a noted swimming historian, Devitt became engrossed in the Healy legend, writing the labour of love on his hero’s life.
THE GRAVE of fallen Olympian Cecil Healy in The Somme. Photo Courtesy: Healy Family.
And again today a further fitting tribute to Cecil Healy by General Hurley, some 101 years after the death of a true Australian champion.
Cecil Healy and John Devitt are both honorees in the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale.
CECIL HEALY: A BIOGRAPHYis published by Stoke Hill Press. For more information about the book, or to arrange an interview with John Devitt or Larry Writer, please contact publisher Geoff Armstrong on the numbers listed above or via the Stoke Hill Press website: www.stokehillpress.com