Friday, May 29, 2020

Passages: Masters Hall of Fame Swimmer Frank Piemme Passes Away at 95

He was inducted in the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame in 2004. Below is his bio from when he was inducted.
Frank Piemme no date no credit (1)
Frank Piemme. Photo Courtesy: Swimming World Archive
Piemme is a product of his environment: as tough as the rattlesnakes he collected in his youth, as tireless as his homesteader father, as curious as his professors at Cal Tech and Berkeley, as meticulous as a professional engineer.
Frank Piemme is a native Californian, born in San Bernadino, January 8, 1925. He was raised in the, then, frontier San Joaquin Valley where he learned to swim in the Feather River. He collected rattlers on the family homestead on the Sutter Buttes and graduated from Taft High School in oil country, Kern County.
It was at Taft High where Frank, intending to be a diver, was persuaded by swimming Coach Zecher, to try swimming, at least beforeWorld War II curtailed high school sports.
Graduating in 1943, Frank Piemme headed south to Cal Tech in Pasadena where he swam a half-season in 1945 in the Navy at Treasure Island. The next year he got in another half-season in the 50 and 100 free and relays. Piemme considered anything longer a distance event.
After discharge from the Navy in 1946, the young Vet went back to the oil field near Taft where he met his wife, Connie, a nurse. They married in 1949. Returning to college at the University of California, he gave no thought to swimming as he worked toward his degree in mechanical engineering.
Frank Piemme no date by Bill Morson, Lompoc Record (1)
Frank Piemme. Photo Courtesy: Bill Morson
Frank worked as an engineer for 26 years for John-Manville Corporation, interrupted only by five years with Lockheed and North American-Rockwell. Most of his working years were spent in Lompoc, on California’s scenic central coast. He retired in 1982 after spending his last nine years at Johns-Manville Headquarters in Denver. It was in Denver while assigned to the J-M Headquarters that Frank joined the Engelmeisters Swim Team in 1980 as a way to lose weight. He realized what he had been missing since 1946.
By 1984, Frank Piemme ranked fifth nationally in the 55-59 age group in the one-hour postal and his Masters swimming career was launched.
To date, this Lompac, California resident has set 49 Masters World Records. He has 133 number one, 57 number two and 33 number three world rankings since 1986, at one time holding all the freestyle number one rankings from 50m to 1500m in his age group.
This tough competitor served as president of the Y.M.C.A. and of the Lompoc Toastmasters. He served as counselor for Junior Achievement, a docent for the La Purisima Mission, and a volunteer for Christmas Cheer.
Masters Hall of Fame swimmer Jurgen Schmidwrote to the Swimming Hall of Fame:
My best friend Frank Piemme passed away on Thursday. He was 95 and inducted into the masters hall of fame back in 2004 in the 1st group. He passed away peacefully with his wife Connie and daughter Carol by his side. Frank, Graham, and I were the best of friend for decades. Frank was my inspiration in swimming and life.

Happy Birthday JOHN HENCKEN !!!

1988 Honor Swimmer

FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1972 gold (200m breaststroke), bronze (100m breaststroke); 1976 gold (100m breaststroke; relay), silver (200m breaststroke); 1980 Member Olympic Team; WORLD RECORDS: 13 (100m, 200m breaststroke; 1 relay); WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: 1973 gold (100m breaststroke; 1 relay), silver (200m breaststroke); AMERICAN RECORDS: 21 (100yd, 200yd, 100m, 200m breaststroke; 5 relays); AAU NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 14 (100yd, 200yd, 100m, 200m breaststroke; 3 relays); NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS: 5 (100yd, 200yd breaststroke).

With 13 world records and 14 AAU nationals, John Hencken is the only swimmer who ever qualified for three Olympic teams in both the 100 meter and 200 meter breaststroke.  Hencken was the last great (and the fastest) of all those "flat on the water" American breaststrokers who appeared in the 1960-70s. "The stroke was like a fine sports car that needs constant tuning," says Hall of Fame honor coach Howard Firby.  Only Hencken survived more than a few years.  He shared the era with honoree David Wilkie both indoors and out, long course and short.  Without each other as constant rivals, who know how many wins each might have garnered.

In spite of or maybe because of this competition, John Hencken managed five NCAA Championships, 14 AAU Championships and 21 American records to go with his 13 world records and five Olympic medals.  Unlike many breaststroke champions, no one could ever label Hencken a 100 breaststroke sprinter or a 200 man.  His world records were about equally divided as he lowered the 100 meter from 1:05.68 in 1972 several times to 1:03.88 in 1974 and 1:03.11 in 1976.  In the 200 he dropped the world record from 2:22.79 in 1972 to 2:18.21 in 1974.  Scholar swimmer John Hencken graduated from Stanford in general engineering-product design and completed his MBA at the University of Phoenix.

Happy Birthday GAIL EMERY !!!!

2000 Honor Synchronized Swimming Coach

FOR THE RECORD:  1988, 1992, 1996 OLYMPIC GAMES:  Head Coach; 1982, 1986, 1991, 1994 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: Coach; 1983 - Present FINA WORLD CUP:  Team Coach; 1979 to Present NATIONAL TEAM: Coach; Coach of OLYMPIC SWIMMERS winning 11 gold and 3 silver medals, WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP SWIMMERS winning 14 gold and 9 silver, FINA WORLD CUP SWIMMERS winning 24 gold and 5 silver medals, GOODWILL GAMES SWIMMERS winning 3 gold medals; Coach of 56 U.S. National Team Championships, 11 Junior National Team Championships; Coach of 150 swimmers to National Titles.

Not since the days of Hall of Fame Honoree and San Francisco Merionettes coach Marion Kane, has a coach dominated the world of synchronized swimming.  Her entry into the sport more than 38 years ago marked the beginning of a competitive and coaching legacy that has made Gail Emery synonymous with achievement and success.  And she did it all with a competitive but compassionate heart that brought out the best in her athletes.  Of all synchronized swimming coaches, she is the coach who perhaps had the greatest impact in this sport as it was developing on the Olympic scene.

She started at age eight when in 1959, Gail’s mom Sue Alf, long time coach and national judge, introduced Gail to synchronized swimming.  She swam first with the Solfettes of Walnut Creek, California, then the Howell Swim Club of Danville and finished her competitive career with the Santa Clara Aquamaids under Hall of Fame coach Kay Vilen.  It was here she became a national team champion in 1972 and was part of a demonstration team that performed at the Munich Olympics. Twelve years later, in 1984, synchronized swimming became an Olympic event and Gail was on the Olympic staff.

In the fall of 1972, Gail began coaching the Walnut Creek Aquanuts, a team her mother had founded.  Eight years later in 1980, her team finally defeated the long-reigning Aquamaids of Santa Clara beginning a streak of 10 consecutive national championships, never before achieved.

As she began developing future world and Olympic champions, Gail was selected as the National Team coach in 1979, a position she held for 5 Olympic quadrennials.  She served as Olympic head coach for three Games (1988, 1992, 1996) and coach/manager for one (1984).  Her personal swimmers - duet pair Karen and Sarah Josephson won Olympic silver in 1988 and gold in 1992.  Kristen Babb-Sprague won the solo gold in 1992.  In 1996, five of Emery’s life-long athletes made up the eight girls who won the team gold medal in the first-ever perfect-routine score in Olympic history.  With head coach Charlotte Davis in 1984, Gail helped coach Tracie Ruiz to the gold medal in the solo event and to another gold medal in the duet with Candy Costie.  Tracie won the silver in 1988.  That’s a total of 10 Olympians - eight of which originated from Emery’s club.

Gail served as coach of every World Championship team from 1982 to 1998 with her U.S. teams winning seven of the 18 gold medals.  In FINA World Cup competition, Emery-coached teams have won 25 gold medals and four silver medals, with a 1993 and 1995 sweep of the gold medals - solo, duet and team.  Her prodigy’s have earned Pan American Games gold in duet (1987, 1991) and in team entries in 1983, 1987, 1991 and 1995.

Emery’s athletes introduced a technical expertise to the sport that shed the old-school description of synchronized swimming as “water ballet” and led to the acceptance of the sport as a physically demanding yet artistically expressive athletic event.  She implemented scientifically designed training methods and diverse, cross-training regimens to take her teams to a level only pursued by others.  Her Olympic and international champions are testimony to this: Karen and Sarah Josephson, Kristen Babb-Sprague, Mary Visniski, Tracy Long, Michelle Svitenko Africano, Tammy Cleland, Heather Pease, Jill Savery, Nathalie Schneyder and Margot Thien.  As the assistant head coach of the 2000 U.S. Olympic team, four of Emery’s prodigies are among the team’s athletes.

In 1998, Gail took over the reigns of Stanford University’s synchronized swimming program and quickly won the NCAA National Championship, only the second time in 22 years for the school.  Whether it is at the collegiate, national, World Championship or Olympic levels or at the Rome Open, American Cup, Pan Pacific Championships, Japan Cup, Moscow Invitational or Swiss Open, the legacy left by Gail Emery and the athletes that she coached will be long remembered and respected.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Birthday Girl, Dawn Bean's 1955 Pan Am Games Costume

ISHOF has begun a new cataloging system and we will try to start posting memorabilia items for everyone to enjoy.  We cannot possibly display all our fabulous items, so this way, we can begin to showcase some of them.

This is the synchronized swimming costume Dawn Bean wore at the 1955 Pan American Games in Mexico City, which was held from March 12 through March 26, 1955.  Dawn played two roles as both coach and swimmer, and she took home gold along with her two sisters, Joan and Lynn.  Her husband Ross was co-coach along with her, it was truly a family affair.

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Since 1965, ISHOF has been the global focal point for recording and sharing the history of aquatics, promoting swimming as an essential life-skill, and developing educational programs and events related to water sports. ISHOF’s vision for the future is to build a new museum and expand its reach by offering its museum artifacts digitally through a redesigned website.
The ISHOF Board of Directors is calling on all members of the aquatics community to make a small monthly commitment to show their dedication to aquatics and how special the International Swimming Hall of Fame is to everyone.
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Happy Birthday DAWN BEAN !!!

1996 Honor Synchronized Swimming Contributor

FOR THE RECORD: Synchronized swimming editor, publisher, administrator, judge, coach/teacher, official, athlete for over 50 years; Publisher of "Synchro Info"; FINA "A" Official; 1955 PAN AMERICAN GAMES: gold (team).

You can synchronize your watches and you can synchronize your plans, but you can't find anyone who can synchronize swimming better than Dawn Pawson Bean has synchronized swimming.

She began her career in 1941 as a water ballet swimmer on San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel Team.  Then, for the next eight years, she competed in speed swimming before devoting herself exclusively to synchronized swimming.  From 1947 to 1955 she was both swimmer and coach along with her husband Ross who coached the girls to their first U.S. National Team Championship in 1952 while at the Athens Athletic Club of Oakland, California.  They went on to win four more national championships.

In 1955, her team won the gold medal at the Pan American Games, the first international competition in Synchronized Swimming.  Dawn's two sisters, Joan and Lynn, were a part of the team, making it a real family affair.  Between 1958 and 1983, she established and coached the Riverside Aquettes and Tustin/Irvine Meraquas where her swimmers were national Team finalists for 22 consecutive years producing five National Team members.

But her involvement went far beyond coaching.  In 1963, to promote communication in the sport, she began publishing "Synchro-Info" which, by 1992 had grown to become a 68 page publication with international distribution in over 50 countries.  It is considered to be the single largest contribution which helped lead the development of Synchronized Swimming as a world-wide sport.

Beginning in 1959, Dawn chaired many U.S. Synchronized Swimming committees including Olympic International, which established the U.S. National Team concept in 1979.  She served eight years on the U.S. Olympic Committees Executive Board.  She was the editor of the official rule books, directories, scoring and training manuals.  She is author of the "Athletes Handbook," "Coaching Synchronized Swimming Effectively" and three other United States Synchronized Swimming publications which became models of expertise.

As an official, she has been an international judge since 1971 at three FINA World Cups, four Pan American Games, five Pan Pacific Championships and eighteen other international competitions in over eight countries.  She has been a judge at the World Championships in 1978, 1982, 1986 and 1992 and at the 1988 Olympic Games.  At the 1984 Olympic Games, she was the Competition Director, as she has been for eight other international competitions.  She has instructed international coaching and judging seminars in over eight countries and lectured in many more, including all continents of the world.  She was one of FINA's first three "A" rated judges.

With her husband and three daughters supporting her, Dawn Bean has been involved and served the sport of synchronized swimming for more than 50 years as an athlete, coach, teacher, administrator, official judge, publisher and editor.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020


Honor Swimmer

FOR THE RECORD: 1976 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (4x100m freestyle relay); 1980 OLYMPIC GAMES: (boycotted); 1984 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (4x100m freestyle relay – preliminary heat); 1988 OLYMPIC GAMES: bronze (50m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle relay – preliminary heat); THREE WORLD RECORDS: 2 (4x100m freestyle relay), 1 (4x200m freestyle relay); 1978 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (4x100m freestyle relay); 1982 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: silver (4x100m freestyle relay), 4x100m medley relay), bronze (100m freestyle); 1986 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: bronze (water polo); 1983 PAN PACIFIC CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (4x100m freestyle relay); 1975 PAN AMERICAN GAMES: gold (4x100m freestyle relay), silver (100m freestyle); 1979 PAN AMERICAN GAMES: gold (4x100m freestyle relay, 4x100m medley relay, 100m butterfly), silver (100m freestyle); 1983 PAN AMERICAN GAMES: gold (4x100m freestyle relay); 20 U.S. NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 13 individual, 7 relays; 21 NCAA/AIAW NATIONAL: 16 individual, 5 relays.

In 1971, Jill Sterkel appeared in her first US National Championship meet at the age of ten. At age 14, she qualified for the Pan American Games, the same year she made her first appearance in the world rankings, with a 12th in the 100m freestyle. Sterkel strongly kept the momentum going, becoming a member of four U.S. Olympic Teams (1976, 1980, 1984, 1988), the most for any American swimmer in the first 92 years of the modern Olympiad. She won medals at each Olympics in which she competed.

Her first Olympic medal came in 1976 at Montreal when her 4x100m freestyle relay defeated the favored East German team and won the gold medal in the world record time of 3:44.82, with teammates Kim Peyton, Wendy Boglioli and Shirley Babashoff.  Little did the athletes know at the time, but the competitors from East Germany had been under a planned drug doping program for six years. Their female swimmers won every event except two. When the East German drug scandal was exposed 17 years later, it proved their swimmers performances to be unfair, unbalanced and completely against the rules. They had won 11 of 13 gold medals and many silver and bronze medals.

At the 1980 Moscow Games, Jill’s Olympic aspirations were again dampened by another incident out of her control – U.S. President Carter’s boycott of the U.S. Olympic Team from competing in Moscow. Jill was picked to win three gold medals and to be team captain.

But, she could not compete.

Jill’s second gold medal came as a member of the 1984 Olympic 4x100m freestyle relay team (preliminary heat). When the 50m freestyle became an Olympic event in 1988, she tied with Katrin Merssner (GDR) for the bronze medal with a career best time of  25.71 behind Kristen Otto (GDR) and Yang Wenyi (CHN). This was Jill’s fourth Olympic quadrennial. She also received a second bronze medal for swimming the 4x100m freestyle relay – preliminary heat. Sterkel was elected captain of the U.S. Team for three Olympic Games – 1980, 1984, 1988.

Jill started her swimming career as an age group swimmer with coach Don Garmon (1966-1971). She then moved to El Monte Aquatics Team (1971-1979) in her home state of California where she trained under Don LaMont, competing in her first U.S. Nationals at age 12. By 14, she was competing at the 1975 Pan American Games where she won gold as a member of the 4x100m freestyle relay and took home a silver medal in the 100m freestyle. Sterkel was then coached by Hall of Fame coaches Paul Bergen (1979-1983), Richard Quick (1983-1988) and Mark Schubert (1988-1991) while at the University of Texas, Austin.

Sterkel won gold medals at the 1978 World Championships (4x100m freestyle relay) and the 1979 Pan American Games (14x100m freestyle and medley relays) where she also won a silver in the 100m freestyle.

She competed at the 1982 World Championships in Guayaquil, Ecuador, winning silver medals in both relays and a bronze in the 100m freestyle. At the 1983 Pan American Games in Caracas, Jill won the gold on the freestyle relay. All totaled, Jill won 20 U.S. National Championships and 21 NCAA/AIAW National Championships while swimming for the University of Texas Longhorns.

Not only was Jill a great swimmer, she was also a member of the 1986 U.S. National Water Polo Team that won a bronze medal at the Madrid World Championships. From 1986 to 1991, Jill was assistant women’s swim coach at the University of Texas, and head coach from 1992 to present. “I am glad and proud to be able to give girls growing up in the sport some sort of example to follow…,” Jill Sterkel said in a 2001 USA Today interview. One of the first females to break into the USA Swimming coaching hierarchy to coach at the World Championship level, Sterkel is “an American swimming legend,” said Dale Neuburger, USA Swimming President, “and she’s already distinguished herself as one of our country’s foremost coaches.”

Jill Sterkel’s accolades continue to flow. She won nearly every award available in swimming, from Olympic gold to the Broderick Cup U.S. National Female Athlete of the Year and a Texas-record 28 All-America honors. She was named assistant women’s swimming coach for the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg and the 2001 World Championships in Fukuoka.

Sterkel has had a profound impact on the Texas women’s swimming program. She placed two swimmers on Olympic teams: Whitney Hedgepath (1996) winning silver medals in the 100m and 200m backstrokes and gold on the 4x100m medley relay – preliminary heat and Erin Phenix (2000) winning gold on the 4x100m freestyle relay – preliminary heat. Sterkel was inducted into the Texas Women’s Athletics Hall of Honor and was the 2000 Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year.