Monday, January 10, 2022

ISHOF Feature: Remembering San Francisco’s Sutro Baths

By Bruce Wigo

Located on the ocean side of the southerly entrance to San Francisco Bay’s Golden Gate, the Sutro Baths—built in the 1890s by Adolph Sutro and eventually destroyed in the 1960s—was the world’s largest indoor swimming facility and one of the most amazing recreational and entertainment complexes ever built.

In 1888, Adolph Sutro, “King of the Comstock” and one of the wealthiest men in America, was finally in a position to fulfill a lifelong dream: to build a Public Bath that would rival in magnitude the beauty and utility of the Roman Baths.

Sutro came by his dream naturally enough. He had been born in Aachen, Prussia, a city with a rich history as Charlemagne’s imperial city, known for its thermal springs and bathing culture since Roman times. Long before Charlemagne bathed in the warm waters of his Pfalz, the Romans had discovered Aachen and named the town after the Celtic god of water and health. Today, Aachen remains noted as a spa resort.

Adolph Sutro arrived in California in 1850 at the age of 20 shortly after gold had been discovered at Sutter’s Mill. He was a clothier by trade, a mining engineer by education and an entrepreneurial visionary.

He made his first fortune by solving the problem of ventilating and draining the deep mines of the “Comstock Lode.” Then he used his underground expertise to excavate tunnels for railroads serving the Bay Area. He invested much of his fortune in San Francisco real estate, and by 1881, he owned 10% of all the land in the city, including the Cliff House and a large track of land on the Pacific coast.

So what does a boy from Aachen do when he becomes as wealthy as a Roman emperor? He builds a magnificent Public Bath like they did in Rome—and the public rewarded him by electing him mayor of the city before it opened.

For Adolph Sutro, the idea of a beach bathhouse, like those on the East coast in Atlantic City and Coney Island, was impractical. The Pacific Ocean was always cold, and as Mark Twain famously said, the coldest winter he ever experienced was a summer in San Francisco.

So, he decided to build an indoor, heated bathing complex that would rival the architectural and engineering achievements of any bathing establishment built by any Roman emperor or modern pool designer.

Sutro began planning his lavish Bath in 1888 by offering architectural firms a $500 prize for the best design. Local architects C.J. Colley and Emil S. Lemme, who had also designed his magnificent Cliff House, won the prize.

After years of amazing engineering and design work—and a long fight with the Southern Pacific Railway Company for the rights to build a trolley service to get customers from downtown to his natatorium—Sutro Baths “officially” opened in 1896.

Like the Public Baths of the Roman era, Sutro offered more than just bathing for his customers. There were promenades and pavilions with sequestered alcoves, galleries, many staircases and corridors adorned with artifacts and specimens collected from his travels, including tropical plants and flowers, fountains, Egyptian mummies, Aztec pottery, Chinese swords, stuffed birds and animals and Indian totems.


To continue reading more about the historic San Francisco Sutro Baths,
Click here to download the full January issue of Swimming World Magazine, available now!

Save the Date: October 14 and 15, 2022 for ISHOF Honoree Induction Ceremonies


Mark your calendars now!  The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) has selected the dates for the 2022 Honoree Induction Ceremonies and the Paragon/Awards Weekend.

The 57th Annual ISHOF Honoree Induction weekend will be held Friday, October 14 and  Saturday, October 15, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Make your plans now to attend!

The Class of 2022 will include the international honorees from the Class of 2021, that were not able to be inducted last year, due to Covid travel restrictions.  Those honorees will include: Swimmers: Michael Klim (AUS)Daichi Suzuki (JPN)Jon Seiben (AUS), Diver: Matthew Mitcham (AUS), Water Polo Player, Mirko Vicevic (YUG/MON), Coach: Ursula Carlile (AUS), Open Water Swimmer: Marilyn Bell (CAN), and Contributor: Peter Huerzeler (SUI). The remaining Paragon and other award winners that were not honored in 2021 will be honored in October as well.    Join our E-mail list or keep checking or for more information or all the latest aquatic news!

The Induction weekend will begin Friday evening, October 14, 2022 and will celebrate the Paragon Award winners, which typically honor six stellar aquatic men /women from the following categories:  competitive swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, water polo, recreational swimming and aquatic safety.

The other specialty awards honored on Friday evening include:  The Buck Dawson Authors Award, The Virginia Hunt Newman Award, The John K. Williams Jr. Adaptive Aquatics Award, The Judge G. Harold Martin Award, The ISHOF Service Award, and others.

On Saturday, October 15, 2022, ISHOF will host, the 57th Annual Honoree Induction Ceremony and Dinner.  The event will once again be hosted at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort and Spa, located one quarter mile south of ISHOF on beautiful Fort Lauderdale Beach.  There may be some additions to the Class of 2022, so keep checking back for any announcements.

The ISHOF Honoree Induction and Dinner will also host its annual silent auction.  If you have anything you might want to donate to this year’s silent auction, please contact Meg at

*Ask about our Honoree weekend sponsorship opportunities, email for more information

Friday, December 31, 2021

Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Center Update by Manager Laura Voet

As 2021 comes to a close, much has been accomplished over the last year with the pool renovations, and most significantly in this month of December. 2022 is going to be an exciting year for our community and the aquatic center with water in the pools!

                                    Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Center Renovation Project                                                                                                      Photo Gallery                                                                                                 December 2021                             

                                                   South Building, 2nd Floor Interior                                                 December 17, 2021

South Building Exterior, along Service Road

                                                 Dive Well Curb, Concrete Pour                                         December 28, 2021

The dive well will have a sparger "bubbler" system; the curb works to retain the water

Dive Well Pool Deck concrete pour; Pool decks must slope away from the pool to the drain; this work requires technical skill and detailed calculations

Circular Spa at the Dive Well

South Building, Pool Deck Level

View from the Dive Tower

Water and Sewer connection lines to support the South building

December 30, 2021 - Final Workday on the Year!  
See you in 2022 for more exciting developments!

Monday, December 20, 2021

ISHOF Paragon Award Winner and USA Swimming Veteran Official Carol Zaleski Awarded FINA Order

Veteran Official Carol Zaleski Awarded FINA Order 

Veteran official Carol Zaleski has been awarded the FINA Order. Zaleski, who is chair of the FINA Technical Committee, a longtime official with a consistent presence on deck at major international competitions and a major figure in swimming in the U.S. for many years, was given an honor considered one of the highest within FINA.

Zaleski was named a Paragon Award winner by the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2009 . She was recognized as the first female on-deck official at the World Championships and Olympics.

Read the full press release below:

Carol Zaleski (USA), FINA Technical Swimming Chair & Past President of USA Swimming is the recipient of the FINA Order presented by FINA President Husain Al-Musallam in Abu Dhabi.

The FINA Order is the honor granted by FINA to individuals such as Heads of State, Ministers, Persons of high dignity including Presidents of Organizing Committees for FINA World Championships, Presidents of companies or networks, FINA sponsors, etc.

Only those who have illustrated the ideals, aims and objectives of FINA in the spirit of sport, and with morals, ethics and/or fair play through his/her action, who have achieved remarkable merit in the world of swimming or have rendered an outstanding service to FINA’s cause, either through his/her contribution in the development of swimming, may be admitted to the Order.

The FINA Order will consist of a golden chair in the form of a laurel wreath holding the FINA logo. A diploma and a gold lapel pin, which features a laurel wreath surrounding the FINA logo will accompany it.

Passages: IMSHOF Honoree Ted Erikson, First Man to Cross Lake Michigan and Hall of Famer, Age 93

Passages: Ted Erikson, First Man to Cross Lake Michigan and Hall of Famer, Age 93

Ted Erikson, a member of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and the first man to cross Lake Michigan, died on Dec. 1. He was 93 years old.

Erikson was inducted to the IMSHOF in 1978. He made his legendary crossing of Lake Michigan in 1961 in difficult conditions. It took 36 hours and 37 minutes for him to get from McCormick Place in Chicago to Michigan City, Indiana. The anticipated journey of 37 miles covered an estimated 43 miles. Erikson lost 17 pounds during the journey.


Ted Erikson; Photo Courtesy: IMSHOF

His open-water feats include becoming the second person to swim the English Channel round-trip when he did so in 1965 over more than 30 hours. He also swam through shark-infested waters in 1967 over 28 miles from the Farallon Islands to the Golden Gate Bridge. (Erikson’s wife was told that he had died due to hypothermia during that swim, though that report was premature.)

After his initial Lake Michigan swim, he also did a 50-mile crossing from Chicago to Kenosha, Wisc. In 35 hours, 37 minutes in 1962, and a 60-mile swim from Chicago to St. Joseph, Michigan, in 37 hours, 25 minutes in 1963.

Born in Montana, Erikson served in the Navy and received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Illinois Institute of Technology. He worked at the university as a research chemist for 21 years and taught math, physics and chemistry at Hammond Technical High School.

He arrived at open water swimming late in life for the health benefits, swimming his first marathon at age 33. He made his first English Channel crossing in 1964.

Erikson was swimming until recently, according to an obituary in the Chicago Sun-Times. He was living in a retirement community in Hyde Park at the time of his death. According to his daughter, Pam Perkins, Erikson’s wish was to have his ashes scattered in Lake Michigan.

Erikson passed on his love of swimming to his, Jon Erikson, a 1981 IMSHOF inductee and a 2014 inductee of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Jon died in 2014. Jon overtook Ted’s record for fastest double crossing of the English Channel in 1979, one of four proteges Ted helped cross the Channel.

Ted Erikson is survived by his daughter, former wife Loretta Bacskai, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Frank Elm, one of the top coaches in U.S. history has died. He was 92.

Frank Elm, one of the top coaches in U.S. history has died. He was 92.

Born on Oct 30, 1929, Elm was the head coach for the 1980 U.S. Olympic team. He also was an assistant coach for the 1968 and 1976 Olympic Games.

Elm, who also coached the 1967 U.S. Pan American Games team, and two U.S. National Teams that toured Japan in 1975 and the Soviet Union in 1981, was elected to the American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) Hall of Fame in 2004.

Elm coached at Rutgers for 31 years and was elected to the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998. He developed the women’s program at the school and fought for facilities worthy of the talent and hard work he and his swimmers put in at Rutgers, where he developed 10 Olympic swimmers- two gold medal winners, several Pan Am Games swimmers, five of whom won gold medals. He also tutored several individual and national championship swimmers as well as national relay champions.

He oversaw the development of the women’s swimming and diving program at Rutgers, a team that went undefeated from 1973-75.

Near the end of his career, he was able to help oversee the construction of the Sonny Werblin Recreation Center, one of the finest swimming and diving facilities in America. Elm received the Master Coaches Award from the Swimming Coaches’ Association of America in 1973 and was bestowed with the honor of Loyal Son in 1992 by the Rutgers Alumni Association.

“It is so antiquated it’s disgusting,” Frank Elm told the New York Times about the old facility. “With only four lanes, it limits the size of our teams and our training. Other state schools like Tennessee, with its 32 available lanes, and Penn State, with 12 lanes, make the Rutgers facilities look sick.”

Rutgers has hosted a Frank Elm Invitational in his honor at the Sonny Werblin Recreation Center.

Elm came to Rutgers as a successful AAU Coach, New Jersey Interscholastic Champion, All-American from Indiana University and a swimmer-coach in the Marine Corps. His Rutgers team won 39 dual meets in a row, Summit Y Men’s team won 68 meets in a row, and the Summit Y Girls team won 70 meets in a row (never losing a dual meet). Another club Frank Elm coached in the 1950’s won 60 meets in a row and never lost while he was coaching. Frank Elm served on several National Committees and was selected as a Loyal Son of Rutgers in April of 1992.

Frank Elm led the Scarlet Knights at Rutgers from 1961 to 1972 stamped 11-straight winning seasons, with an overall 79-42 record. In 1965, the creation of the Eastern Seaboard Championships brought Rutgers University to a new level, with swimmers such as Bill Clark (’63), Larry Jones, John Wasylyk (’64), Don Galluzzi, Marty Flickenger (’65), and diver Roy Nicholas (’64 – Eastern Champion and NCAA top-eight finisher) as the top performers.

But one of his biggest pioneering roles came when women joined the college swimming ranks.

The 1970’s at Rutgers were best known for the inclusion of the women into the Rutgers program. Olympic swimmer Judy Mellick (’77) became the first female members of the Rutgers team and the first woman to compete with men. She was one of the pioneers as Rutgers transformed into a successful women’s athletic program. The Rutgers women’s swimming program blasted onto the scene under Frank Elm with three consecutive undefeated season (1975-77), with a fierce dominance at the Eastern Championships. The women’s team went on to be the only Eastern team to place in the top ten at the 1977 Nationals. Frank Elm coached 15 swimmers on to earn All-American recognition and many to be come stars of their era, including Mellick, Ellen Wallace, Debbie Franks, Maureen Mortell and Robin Locklair.  Wallace went on to represent the USA at the Pan-Am Championships. Frank Elm finished the women’s program in the 1970’s with a 70-20 record.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Elizabeth Fry ​to Receive the 2022 Irving Davids/Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award

Wednesday, December 1, 2021
Elizabeth Fry to Receive the 2022 Irving Davids/Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award
FORT LAUDERDALE – The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) will recognize Elizabeth Fry, for her extensive contributions to the administration of open water swimming with the 2022 Irving Davids/Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award. The Award will be presented to Elizabeth during the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Induction and Award Ceremony in Naples Italy on Saturday May 7th 2022. The Irving Davids/Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award is presented annually by the International Swimming Hall of Fame to the individual who has contributed the most to the administration of open water swimming.
This year’s award recognizes Elizabeth Fry, an open water swimming administrator from Connecticut, USA who has served the sport for more than 30 years. She has also been the marathon director for 13 years of the 25 km St. Vincent’s Foundation Swim Across the (Long Island) Sound which raises more than $2 million EACH YEAR. Prior to her leadership in 2007 the event raised approximately $40,000 annually. Liz created a detailed safety plan that allows the event to host up to 65 escort boats and created separate team and two-person relay categories to expand fund raising and provide open water experience to local swimmers. Donations to the event have grown to over $2 million each year to help cancer patients and their families. In 2008, Liz expanded the fund raising to include multiple sclerosis (MS) with an event named the “January Jam”. This event encourages participants from around the world to track their yardage for the entire month to see who can “jam” the most yards into 31 days.
Elizabeth is an accomplished marathon swimmer: Oceans Seven; set the record for the oldest person to do a two-way English Channel crossing; and other firsts including two-way Ederle Swim, 35-mile swim from Manhattan to Sandy Hook, New Jersey and two-way S.C.A.R. She was inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Swimmer in 2014.

For additional information, please call Ned Denison in Ireland at (+353) 87-987-1573 or ISHOF at (954) 462-6536, or visit