Friday, December 18, 2020

Happy Birthday Igor Milanovic, ISHOF 2006 Honor Water Polo Player!

Igor Milanovic 2006 Honor Water Polo Player

FOR THE RECORD: 1984 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold; 1988 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold; 1986 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold; 1991 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold; 1987, 1989 WORLD CUPS: gold; SCORED 450 GOALS IN MORE THEN 300 INTERNATIONAL COMPETITIONS; CONSIDERED ONE OF THE BEST CENTERS IN THE WORLD

Yugoslavia won its first water polo Olympic gold medal in 1968, breaking Hungary’s (and to a lesser degree, Italy’s) Olympic water polo dynasty. Hall of Fame players, Mirko Sandic, Zdravko Korvacic and Zoran Jankovic all helped give special rise to Yugoslavia’s water polo success. Although Yugoslavia won the silver medal 12 years later in 1980, it was in 1984 and 1988 that they won back-to-back gold medals in Olympic competition, largely due to the driving ability of the great Igor Milanovic. The Partizan Club was the country’s leading water polo team and produced most of the Yugoslavian Olympic players, including 6’10” Milanovic.

Igor joined the Partizan Club Team at age ten in 1975 and under the coaching of Nicola Stamenic and Vlaho Orlic; he soon became a skillful and inspirational player. At age 18, legendary coach Ratko Rudic promoted him from the junior team to the national team just in time for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles where he was instrumental in his team winning the gold medal. Four years later at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, he once again steered his team to gold. At the height of his career, the Balkan War prevented his team from competing during the years between 1992 to 1995, thus forfeiting the 1992 Olympics.

Throughout his career, he also competed for Mladost, Croatia; Roma, Italy; and Katalugnia, Spain, the latter two in the Professional League. His career includes over 300 international competitions. He has scored over 450 goals

Each of his coaches place him in high regard with Coach Rudic stating that he is the only player who could play in every position on the team.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

On this day in 1917, ISHOF Honor Swimmer, Ralph Flanagan was born....




RALPH FLANAGAN (USA) 1978 Honor Swimmer

FOR THE RECORD:  OLYMPIC GAMES: 1936 silver (4x200m freestyle relay); WORLD RECORDS: 2; AMERICAN RECORDS: 26; NATIONAL AAU Titles: 20 Held all American freestyle records from 220 yards to a Mile.

In his days, which were the 1930's plus a few years on each end, no American won so many National AAU titles as Ralph Flanagan who came out of the Miami Biltmore Hotel pool to challenge the world and in the process set all the American Freestyle Records from the 220 to the Mile.  Ralph has stayed in swimming as a lifelong Red Cross professional, most recently the Director of Safety Programs in Los Angeles.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Former ISHOF CEO, Bruce Wigo, inducted into USA Water Polo's Class of 2020

Last night, after a four month delay due to COVID-19, USA Water Polo feted its 2020 Hall of Fame class of honorees. It was worth the wait as new inductees Gavin ArroyoKelly RulonGary RobinettElsie Windes and Bruce Wigo, along with previous Hall of Fame honorees, were recognized in an online ceremony streamed on YouTube and Facebook.

[USA Water Polo 2020 Hall of Fame Presentation]

usawpDespite the virtual format—for the first time in 36 years the Hall of Fame ceremony was  exclusively online—the seamless presentation represents one of few recent polo-related events that celebrate the sport in this country. The coronavirus has severely curtailed play throughout the country, and a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in California has again shutdown any polo competition in the home base of the sport in America.

Many of the inductees as well as their presenters acknowledged the changed landscape for their sport and country. In opening the festivities, Greg Mescall, USAWP’s Director of Communications, contrasted this year’s event with those of the past, while John Tanner, Stanford’s women’s coach and a 2019 honoree, made reference to last year’s raucous celebration—then emphasized that this year’s format was a “leveling” in that all around the country will participate equally.

Arroyo, being honored for his three decades of national team participation, first as a player on the 1996 and 2000 Olympic squads and in his current roles as  top assistant to national team coach Dejan Udovicic and head of the organization’s Olympic Development Program (ODP), mentioned in his induction speech finding joy in tough times.

USAWP_HOF_2020A four-time national champion playing for Adam Krikorian at UCLA (2003-07), which included being selected the the 2007 Cutino Award as the nation’s best female collegiate polo athlete, Rulon’s story perhaps underscores the type of resilience needed in these challenging times. After representing the U.S. in the 2004 Athens Olympics—where the Americans captured bronze—Guy Baker, then the U.S. women’s coach, chose not to include Rulon on the 2008 roster. In one of the more memorable upsets in the history of the women’s program, Team USA dropped an 9-8 decision to the Netherlands in the gold medal match at Beijing’s Ying Tung Natatorium—surprising because Baker’s squad had decimated the Dutch in pre-Olympic scrimmages.

According to Doug Peabody, Rulon’s age group coach in San Diego, when Krikorian took over leadership of the women’s program in 2009, one of his first calls was to his former UCLA star, inviting her back to the team. To the benefit of all, Rulon accepted; the U.S. proceeded to capture its first-ever Olympic gold in water polo at the 2012 London Olympics, as Rulon chipped in four goals.

Recognized by peers Bret BernardTom Hermstad and Steve Rotsart as “the best American referee to never officiate an Olympics,” Robinett’s story reflects the continued excellence of officiating in the U.S., a thankless task that the Hall of Fame has wisely acknowledged, including in its ranks William FradyAndy TakataTerry Sayring, Bernard and Hermstad among others.

In his acceptance speech, the now-Hall of Fame referee cited the some of the best polo minds America has produced—Bill BarnettKen LindgrenTed Newland and Monte Nitzkowski—who he wisely solicited to hone his craft.

[Passages: Bill Barnett, Former Olympic Men’s Water Polo Coach, Passes Away at 76]

Elsie Windes, the first-ever water polo Olympian from Oregon, was a teammate of Rulon’s on the 2012 Olympic team after a stellar career at Cal-Berkeley (2004-07), resulting in a 2018 induction into the California Hall of Fame. She also won silver as a member of the 2008 Olympic squad. Refreshingly, Windes’ parents Betty and Doug in their comments described bemusement at their daughter’s polo success—along with great pride in her selection to the highest honor for the sport.

Bruce-Brent

Bruce Wigo and Brent Rutemiller at ISHOF; Photo Courtesy: J.M. Streiner

Closing out the ceremony, Wolf Wigo—a 2011 inductee as three-time Olympian and two-time NCAA winner at Stanford—welcomed his father Bruce to Hall of Fame membership.

One of the most influential polo administrators in the country, for 13 years (1991-2004) the elder Wigo was the executive director of US Water Polo, steering the organization through rocky financial times while scoring specific successes, including a push to include women’s polo as an Olympic sport—achieved at the 2000 Sydney Games—and luring Ratko Rudic, arguably the most successful coach in the sport’s history, to lead the American men at the 2004 Athens Games.

[Swimming World Presents “Lessons with the Legends: Water Polo Coach Ratko Rudic”]

Dan Sharadin, who like Wigo has had tremendous impact on the sport in this country, recounted how his former boss championed women’s polo at the collegiate level, helping to establish the NCAA as arguably the best women’s competition in the world. It regularly draws top international players to ply their craft as student athletes at American institutions.

Befitting both the moment and his stature as a statesman for the sport, in closing Wigo cited the many individuals who helped him in his journey to sustain the sport in America, including the recently deceased Andy Burke and Sayring as well as  Barnett, Pete CutinoDennis FosdickBob HelmickBob HornBarbara KalbusSteve Heaton, Newland and Nitzkowski, USAWP Hall of Fame members who have all passed away.

[Passages: Andy Burke, Devoted US Water Polo Administrator, 91]

It was an apt close to a moment of celebration for a sport that—like most everything in the U.S.—has suffered greatly during the pandemic, and a reminder that better times are ahead.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Happy Birthday 1997 Honor Swimmer: Mike Barrowman !

 MIKE BARROWMAN (USA) 1997 Honor Swimmer

FOR THE RECORD:  1988 OLYMPIC GAMES: 4th (200m breaststroke); 1992 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (200m breaststroke); 1989, 1990 World Swimmer of the Year; WORLD RECORDS (7): 200m breaststroke; 1991 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (200m breaststroke); 1987 PAN AMERICAN GAMES: silver (200m breaststroke); US NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS (6): 2 short course (200yd), 4 long course (200m); NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS (3)

During the 20 year period between the 1972 Munich Olympics and the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the world record was held by only five swimmers - Hall of Famers John Hencken (USA), David Wilkie (GBR) and Victor Davis (CAN) among them.

Nick Gillingham (GBR) held the record for two days in 1990 sandwiched between USA's Mike Barrowman. Barrowman joins 1940s swimmer Joe Verdeur (USA) in breaking the 200m breaststroke world record, a record number of six times. Between 1988 and 1992, Barrowman dominated the 200m breaststroke as no other swimmer did, winning 15 of 16 major national and international competitions.

His first world record came after five years and one day in the same pool, same lane when Davis had set the mark of 2:13.34 at the 1984 Olympic Games.  Until his retirement after the 1992 Olympics, that mark was to fall an additional five times by another 23 seconds, by Mike.

To Barrowman, success came all of a sudden, but not without a considerable amount of hard work and training.  Leading up to the 1988 Olympic Trials, he was ranked 64th in the world and no one had heard of Mike Barrowman.  To his astonishment, he dropped an incredible seven and one-half seconds, from 2:21.39 to 2:13.74, to make the US Olympic Team and travel to Seoul.  But it was while at Seoul, after finishing a disappointing fourth place that he set his sites for the greatest achievements yet to come that made swimming history. When they played the national anthem of Hungary for Seoul's winner Jozef Szabo, Mike was under the bleachers in the practice pool - all alone. He had wanted the gold medal.  The memory of not getting it was the catalyst that drove him to higher achievements during the next four years.

Barrowman began his first swimming lessons at five months old, from his grandmother, a Red Cross instructor.  By eighteen months, he could jump off the diving board and dog paddle to the side, and at four years he could swim freestyle and backstroke.  Through high school, he swam for the Rockville, Maryland-Montgomery Swim Club and Churchill High School.  But it was in 1986 that he met the Hungarian-born coach Jozsef Nagy and moved with him to Curl-Burke Swim Club and then stardom.  The Hungarian-speaking Nagy's first words to Barrowman were "breaststroke strong."

Nagy developed the "wave-action technique" of the breaststroke, and Barrowman became the showman of the stroke.  Through the technical use of physics and the practical use of "borrowing" the same head and shoulder characteristics of a cheetah running, Barrowman turned this stroke into the fastest in the world.  On land, he re-popularized the use of medicine balls, taken from the 1950s, to increase quickness, particularly in the recovery phase of the stroke. Dryland work, but not weight training, was a very important part of his total training.  His secret to success was none other than "good ole hard work."

It was the desirable balance of his University of Michigan coach Jon Urbanchek, and Hungarian-born Nagy that helped Mike perform so well.  He not only wanted to succeed for himself, but more so for his coaches and family.  Under Urbanchek's guidance, Barrowman earned three NCAA breaststroke championships and was selected the NCAA 1990 Swimmer of the Year.  Urbanchek describes Barrowman as being "very meticulous.  He can describe exactly what he is doing in his stroke."

Under Nagy's guidance, Barrowman perfected his stroke.  His style of coaching, Mike was to criticize. "Nothing is ever good enough.  Everything I do, 100 people have done better, girls can do better.  Some people couldn't handle it, but it works for me," says Barrowman.

Barrowman became a model of concentration, a study in intensity.  He won six US National Championships and won the gold medal at the 1991 Perth World Championships by defeating the same two swimmers as he did in the next year's Olympic Games, Norbet Rozsa (HUN) and Nick Gillingham (GBR). At these Games, this 5'11", 163 lb. swimmer born in Paraguay, lived his dream, the Olympic gold medal.  In the process, he set six world records and was voted World Swimmer of the Year in both 1989 and 1990.  He was also selected as a finalist in 1990, 1991 and 1993 for the prestigious AAU Sullivan Award.

After his retirement from swimming, Mike began kayaking, another water event which uses the same muscles as swimming.  He finished 15th at the 1996 US Olympic Trials.

He works on sports cars, writes novels, goes to the opera and conducts clinics throughout the world.  Kids love him, because he is a champion inside.

On this day in 1918, Honor Contributor, Sebastian Salinas-Abril was born

 SEBASTIAN SALINAS ABRIL (PER) Honor Contributor

FOR THE RECORD: FINA: Vice President (1972-76), Bureau Member (1968-80), Chairman of Technical Swimming Committee (1981-88); ASUA: Secretary/Treasurer (1971-75), Executive Committee (1963-79), Honorary Life Member (since 1980); South American Swimming Confederation: President (1966-72), Vice President (1982-86), Honorary Life President (since 1987); Peruvian Swimming Federation: President (1959-60, 1963-64), Honorary Life President (since 1979); “Orden de los Caballeros de la Natacion Sudamericana”: President (1987-present), Member (1968-present); Awarded IOC’s “Silver Collar of the Olympic Order” (1996).

Sebastian Salinas Abril gave many long years of meaningful service as an amateur to swimming. Over these years he has made great advancements for the aquatic disciplines throughout South and Central America and the world. He was a hard working and dedicated man whose only ambition was to further swimming.

Born in Lima, Peru, in 1918, Salinas’ involvement in swimming goes back to 1941 when he became a delegate of Lima’s Swimming Association and his swimming club “Club Universitario de Natacion”. Within 11 years, he was chairman. Within that year, he began a 50 year term as a swimming official in regional and international swimming competitions.

Salinas received his formal education as an agricultural engineer attending Louisiana State University (1937-1939) and graduating from the University of Arizona (1945). But his interests laid in swimming and for the next 55 years, he served in varied capacities in Lima and Peru Swimming Federation’s, South American Swimming Confederation (CONSANAT), The Amateur Swimming Union of the Americas (ASUA) and Federation Internationale de Natacion Amateur (FINA).

On the national level, he has been a two-term President, Honorary Secretary, and Life Honorary President of the Peruvian Swimming Federation (1949-1999). He has served in leadership positions of the Peruvian Sports Institute, National Olympic Committee, Panathlon Club Lima and National Sports Patronage. In 1987, he was elected Honorary Life President of CONSANAT having served on this body since 1966.

His tenure with ASUA began in 1951 as Chairman of the Records Committee. He has served as Secretary, Treasurer, and since 1975, Executive Committee Member.

On the world level, he served for 20 years with FINA as Bureau Director (1968-1980), Vice President (1972-1976) and Technical Swimming Committee Chairman (1980-1988). As a meet official, he has been either chief timekeeper or starter at 3 South American Swimming Championships (1952, 1954, 1956) 3 Pan American Games (1951, 1963, 1967) and the 1972 Olympic Games and 1973 World Championships. Because of his knowledge of the rules, he served as meet referee at 4 Olympic Games (1976-1988), 4 World Championships (1975-1986), 3 Pan American Games (1971-1979), 5 South American Seniors Swimming Championships (1968-1990), as well as numerous South American Junior Swimming Championships.

From 1985 to 1991, Sebastian presented over 10 lectures (mostly for FINA) throughout the Americas and Spain for swimming officials. Since 1947, he has served as a delegate at over 91 International Congress Meetings. He was the catalyst in preparing FINA’s first complete handbook containing a chronological listing of world records, published in 1976.

His distinctions received include the Order of Merit for Distinguished Services presented in the Commander Grade by the Government of Peru (1965), Silver Plate from ASUA for achievement orated to the Latin American Trophy Cabeza de Palenque (1976), The Laurels of Sports – Great Cross Peru’s highest sports condecoration presented by the Peruvian National Sports Council, and the Silver Collar of the Olympic Order presented by the International Olympic Committee.

Salinas is a man of great stature who never lost sight that athletics are for the athletes. Like at the 1975 World Championships in Ecuador, his efforts have gone a long way to benefit swimming both short term and long term. The 1987 FINA records cite him for “special recognition”.

His honest and disciplined approach to sport has rendered more than 55 years of a positive, intensive and fruitful campaign in the international field of aquatics and sport.

Abril passed away in 1999.

Happy Belated Birthday to the Great Hobie Billingsley, who turned 94 on December 2nd!!!


HOBIE BILLINGSLEY  (USA) 1983 Honor Coach/Diver

FOR THE RECORD:  1968 U.S. Olympic Women's Diving Coach; 1972 U.S. Olympic Men's Diving Coach; 1976 Austrian Olympic Diving Coach; 1980 Austrian and Danish Olympic Diving Coach; 1959 U.S. Pan American Men's Diving Coach; 1945 NCAA Champion (1m, 3m springboard); As Indiana University's diving coach his divers captured 16 NCAA, 27 Big Ten and 64 National AAU diving titles; They also won 4 Pan American, 3 World and 2 Olympic gold medals along with 80 National titles between 1959 and 1982; 1973 recipient of the "Mike Malone Award" and 1964 "Fred Cady Award"; founded the American (1971) and the World (1968) Diving Coaches Associations.

Hobie Billingsley was voted the "U.S. Diving Coach of the Year" seven consecutive times between 1964-1970.  He was also the first "NCAA Coach of the Year", first presented in 1982.  A four-time Olympic Coach representing three different countries, his Olympic success was exceeded only by his national success with his divers.  Coaching in the premier diving nation of the world, Billingsley has won more individual diving titles as coach than any other person except his own mentor, the late Mike Peppe of Ohio State.  

Hobie won both the low & high NCAA springboard titles as a freshman at Ohio State before entering the Army Air Corps in 1945.  With his best friend from college, the late Bruce Harlan, and later with Dick Kimball, he toured 15 summers, establishing himself as an all-time great comedy diver with water shows.

However, it was as a coach, the second diving coach ever hired in college ranks, that Hobie made his greatest mark.  Among his Olympians, Rick Gilbert, his first champion and former head coach at Cornell; Cynthia Potter who holds the record for National titles at 28; Jim Henry with 13 National titles; Leslie Bush, holder of every major diving title; and Ken Sitzberger, 11 time National champion.  

In the 1968 NCAA Championships, Hobie's divers scored 96 unprecedented points with five divers making the finals on both the 1-meter and 3-meter boards.  He is the producer of the prize-winning documentary, "Hobie's Heroes".  Hobie's greatest pride is in the fact that there are more diving coaches in the high school and college ranks in the U.S. that have graduated from Indiana University under his tutelage than from any other university.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Happy Birthday Laura Val !!

                                              

                               Laura Val (USA) 2004 Honor Swimmer

INTERNATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS: World Points – 2042, Pre-1986 Points – 0, Total Points – 2042; Since 1984, she has competed in four age groups (35-39 thru 50-54); 97 FINA MASTERS WORLD RECORDS;

Never during the 30-year history of Masters Swimming has a female been more dominant

in her age group in almost every event than Laura Val. Her Masters world records range from 50m sprints to 1500m distance races. She dominates backstroke, butterfly and individual medley events also.

From a very young age she loved being in and around the water. At age 10-1/2, she was into competitive swimming at the Mountain View (CA) Dolphins team coached by Tom Bosmans. By age 12, she was a Junior Olympic National Champion. Within two more years, she placed in Swimming World's "Five Best Age Group Times" and in the 15-17 age group she set a national record (200y freestyle – 2:03.4). At age 18, she transferred to Hall of Fame Coach Nort Thornton's Foothill Aquatic Club where she made great strides in a more competitive atmosphere.Within a year, she was ranked 11th in the world in the 200m butterfly at 2:29.4 and 20th in the 100m butterfly. That same year (1970), she won a gold medal as amember of the U.S. 4x100m medley relay, competing at the World Student Games in Turin, Italy.

Then, her swimming came to an end. No women's college scholarships meant retirement for many girls at that time. Laura enrolled at San Diego State University to earn a Nursing Degree and graduated Cum Laude (1972). She became a registered nurse for over 20 years,mostly at the intensive care unit at Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City (CA). In 1992, she was named one of the Ten Outstanding Nurses in the State of California by Nurseweek Magazine. Since 1997, she has been the Human Resources Director, first at Automated Power Exchange and presently at the Silicon Valley-based Berkshire Hathaway Company with 600 employees.

In 1984, she joined the Los Altos Masters just to get back in the water and do some fitness training without any competitive ambitions. However, just a year-and-a-half later,when her club hosted the U.S.Masters National Championships, she competed and won six races, breaking six national records. Breaking records has been a trend for Laura ever since.

For her five years in the 35-39 age group, Dave Knochenhauer and Bill Olliver were her coaches. Since age 40, John Bitter at Santa Clara has been her swimming guide, although she is affiliated with the Tamalpais Swim Club. She loves to train, swimming 5,000 yards or meters five days a week. She has to force herself to take two days of rest. Her times at age 35 were faster than her times at age 18. Phenomenally, every year she competes, her times get faster. By the time she reached age 50, she was still swimming faster than her own 45-49 age group records. She is the only Masters swimmer to hold world records in three different age groups at the same time.

Currently in the 50-54 age group, Laura owns 22 of the 35 long and short course world records. She has every freestyle record from 50m to 800m. She is the only woman over age 40 ever to break a minute in the 100y fly or two minutes in the 200y free.

Val does all this while she and her husband Gregory raise two daughters, Jodi and Jamie. She does not lift weights, crosstrain, monitor her diet or do stretching exercises. Swimming is only one part of her very busy life.Her strength comes from her love of the sport. She enjoys every minute of it.

To date, Laura holds 49 long course Masters world records and 48 short course Masters world records, a total of 97 Masters world records. In 2002, Swimming World named her Masters Swimmer of the Year. She has been a member of both the USMS Sports Medicine and Research Committee and Champion Committee and is active in her local Pacific Masters Swim Association. She has been named a USMS All Star 14 times (1987, 1989-2002).

At swimming meets Laura is always the "rabbit to catch." At swim practice she has to be talked into leading off the set first. In her heart, she just loves being in the sport for its fitness benefits and swimming meet fun; and of course, the camaraderie. To Laura, all the world records and standings are a byproduct of her time spent in the water.

It's Giving Tuesday !! Please consider ISHOF in your Giving....



https://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/news/support-the-hall-of-fame-on-givingtuesday/

Monday, November 30, 2020

Olympian Mark Tewksbury Appointed Companion of the Order of Canada


Olympic swimmer Mark Tewksbury was appointed Companion of the Order of Canada Friday, in recognition of his athletic and advocacy achievements.

The honor is the highest level within the Order of Canada, bestowed to only 165 living Canadians at a time, honoring those who make the most extraordinary contributions to the nation. Tewksbury was among four athletes appointed to the Order, along with Olympic rower Sandra Kirby as Officer and five-time ice dancing medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir as Members.

“I had no idea when I won the Olympics so many years ago that it was just the beginning of my journey, not the end,” Tewksbury said in Canadian Olympic Committee news release. “I have never shied away from standing up for what I believe in or for using my voice to speak for those who might not have been able. It is an incredible honour to be appointed Companion of the Order of Canada not just for my sport accomplishments but for my fight for equity, inclusion and human rights for all.”

Tewksbury, 52, is one of Canada’s most decorated swimming Olympians. He won gold in the men’s 100-meter backstroke in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona and earned medley relay golds at consecutive Games, helping the Canadians to silver in Seoul in 1988 and bronze in Barcelona. The Calgary native’s accomplishments include gold in the 100 back and silver in the 200 back at the 1987 Pan Pacific Championships; a silver medal at the 1991 World Championships in Perth in the 100 back; and four gold medals across two Commonwealth Games.

Since his retirement, he has served as an athlete representative to the International Olympic Committee and was the chef de mission for the 2012 Canadian Summer Olympic delegation. Tewksbury sits on the board of directors for both the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Olympic Foundation and has helped mentor young swimmers.

He has been a long-time advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, which stemmed from his coming out as gay in the 1990s, working with numerous organizations that fight for gay representation and human rights. Among his many sporting hall of fames (including enshrinement in the International Swimming Hall of Fame) and other accolades, he received the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for Gender Equality in 2019.

Hall of Fame Aquatic Complex Thanksgiving Update, November 2020


Training Pool


THANKSGIVING UPDATE from COMMANDER IN CHIEF: LAURA VOET

It was a busy Thanksgiving week at the aquatic center, with each piece falling in line!

๐Ÿ‚๐Ÿ‚ Besides pouring the concrete foundation for the new entry building, Neptune Benson Defender regenerative pool filters were placed inside the filtration room building. Utility site work is progressing, dive well and tower structural elements will continue next week after the holiday.

New Pool filters! Neptune Benson regenerative filters! 
Grandstand and Filtration Room structure.
Seating Capacity - 1,522. New Musco sports lighting.
 
              Inside electrical vault

Old Entrance 
Everyone knows the bottom of the pool is a nice, quiet,
peaceful place; now it’s a great spot for lunch too!


I never realized how much dirt is moved in, 
out and around on a construction job site. It is 
a constant process moving it here and there.



Happy BIrthday 2005 Honor Swimmer David Berkoff !!!

DAVID BERKOFF (USA) 2005 Honor Swimmer

FOR THE RECORD: 1988 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (4x100m medley relay), silver (100m backstroke); 1992 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (4x100m medley relay-prelims), bronze (100m backstroke); FOUR WORLD RECORDS: 3-100m backstroke, 1-4x100m medley relay; 1987 PAN AMERICAN GAMES: silver (100m backstroke); THREE U.S.S. NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 100y backstroke (1988, 1991), 100m backstroke (1988); TWO NCAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 100m backstroke (1987, 1989).

At the 1912 Olympics, USA’s gold medalist Harry Hebner began to recover with his arms out of the water at the same time in the backstroke. In 1920 at Antwerp, Warren Kealoha (USA) was using the alternate arm recovery in his Olympic backstroke swimming. In 1936, Adolph Kiefer began using a straight arm recovery. Thirty years later swimmers began using a bent arm pull under water. All these changes revolutionized backstroke swimming.

Olympian Dave Berkoff was no exception to these great swimmers, for as a swimmer himself, he too, revolutionized backstroke swimming, with his underwater start-and-turn, a move which stirred debate amongst athletes and officials and caused FINA to make an adaptation to the rules governing the amount of the time a swimmer can remain under water after a start-and-turn. Dave’s “Berkoff Blastoff”, as his under water submarine dolphin kick became known, earned him Olympic medals and World Records and caused every backstroke swimmer following him to learn the kick in order to win and set records. His start-and-turn is one of the sports top innovations that has lead to faster times.

Born on November 30, 1966, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Dave started swimming because he was not only overweight, he was fat. At one year old, he weighed 30 pounds. At 17 months old, he could speak in complete sentences yet was unable to walk. He eventually shed pounds as he progressed in age group swimming, competing for ten different clubs in the Middle Atlantic Region.

Although he was never a standout swimmer until he entered college, he competed for and learned from the best. From Westchester to Germantown, and coaches Jack Simon to Dick Schoulberg, Berkoff was persistent with his swimming. He attended the William Penn Charter School and in 1985 was accepted at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts where he enrolled and trained under the direction of Coach Joe Bernal. It was during his college years that he began playing around with a start and push off the wall with the hands outstretched overhead and the legs and feet kicking in a dolphin style much like the butterfly. Dave would stay 35 to 40 meters under water on each push off the wall and come up ahead of all the other backstroke swimmers in the race. After placing third in the 100y backstroke at the 1986 NCAA National Championships in Indianapolis, he refined the push off more to his advantage. The next year at the 1987 NCAA Nationals, held at the University of Texas, he won the 100y backstroke race in a time of 48.20 seconds, breaking the NCAA record. He became Harvard’s first NCAA National swimming champion since Bruce Hunter won the 50y freestyle in 1960, twenty-six years earlier. The same year, he won silver medals in the 100m backstroke at both the FISU Games and the Pan American Games.

On August 13, 1988 at the U.S. Olympic Trials, Dave broke Igor Poliansky’s (URS) 100m backstroke world record with a 54.95 in the preliminary heat and again in the finals with a 54.91. He broke the record a third time a month and a half later at the Seoul Olympics with a 54.51 in the preliminary heats. Berkoff held the world record for three years before it was broken by USA’s Jeff Rouse. Dave was the first swimmer to go under 55 seconds for the distance.

It was at the 1988 Seoul Olympics that the world saw for the first time at an international competition, the power of the “Berkoff Blastoff” in backstroke swimming. In the 100m race final, Dave was narrowly touched out by Japan’s David Suzuki, who also used a form of the kick. Because the kick created such a stir at the Games, FINA officials voted immediately after the Games to limit the under water portion of the race coming off the wall, by reducing the under water part to ten meters. Every backstroke world record holder since has used the “dolphin kick” as part of their start-and-turn. Even butterfly and freestyle swimmers have adopted it in their start-and-turns.

In his final event of the Seoul Games, the 4x100m medley relay, Dave, swimming backstroke, and his teammates Richard Schroeder (breast), Matt Biondi (fly) and Chris Jacobs (free) won the gold medal in a world record time of 3:36.93.

After Seoul, Dave returned home to Harvard competing in and winning another NCAA National Championship 100y backstroke title again in record time. After graduation he went into semi-retirement but then in 1991, back in competition, he placed in the consolation finals of the 100m backstroke and 200m I.M. at the Pan Pacific Championships. He won the 100m backstroke at the U.S.S. National Championship, qualified for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Team and came home from Spain with a 100m medley relay gold medal for swimming in the preliminary heat.

All totaled in Olympic competition, Berkoff had won two gold medals, one silver and one bronze medal. He set three backstroke world records, was on a world-record setting medley relay team and is best known today as the man who revolutionized the stroke. Today he is a lawyer living, working and coaching in Missoula, Montana. He and fellow Olympian Matt Biondi are co-founders of the Delphys Foundation for Marine Study, specifically the study of dolphins and whales in their natural habitat.

Happy Birthday 2005 USA Honor Water Polo Player: Craig Wilson!

 Craig Wilson (USA) 2005 Honor Water Polo Player

FOR THE RECORD: 1984 OLYMPIC GAMES: silver; 1988 OLYMPIC GAMES: silver; 1992 OLYMPIC GAMES: Fourth; 1982, 1986, 1991 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: team member; 1982, 1984, 1988 and 1990 FINA WORLD CUP: team member; 1991 FINA WORLD CUP: gold; 1981 PAN AMERICAN GAMES: silver; 1983 PAN AMERICAN GAMES: gold; 1987 PAN AMERICAN GAMES: gold; 1991 PAN AMERICAN GAMES: silver; Five U.S. Water Polo National Championships; Voted World’s Top Goal Keeper.

Craig “Willy” Wilson rivals Hall of Famer Zdravko Kovacic (YUG) as one of the greatest goalies to play the game of water polo. He is a three-time Olympian playing in 1984, 1988, and 1992 winning silver medals in 1984 and 1988. From 1981 to 1992, he played in over 211 international tournaments. His six-foot, ten-inch, out- stretched arm length made it very difficult for opponents to score.

Craig was born on February 5, 1957, in Beeville, Texas, but at age four moved with his family to California living in Tujunga for seven years and Davis for eight years. As a kid, he loved any sport where there was a ball or a pool. He first played organized sports with Little League Baseball, playing first base, pitcher and right field and won the league championship. He began organized swimming at age 11, specialized in backstroke, but yearned for a team-oriented sport. He joined the water polo team.

Craig’s water polo career started at age 13 with the Davis Recreational Water Polo Team. There was no league, only games amongst themselves. At Davis High School, he started playing goalie, even wearing braces, and played his way to high school All-American status in 1975. At the University of California, Santa Barbara, he played water polo his junior and senior year, starting as a walk-on, fifth-string goalie and advancing to starting goalie and an NCAA National Championship, beating UCLA in the finals, 12-3. Craig became NCAA first team All-American.

With the end of his collegiate career, Craig envisioned his water polo playing days over, but in 1980, he was invited to join the National Team Training Squad, again as fifth-string goalie. He joined the Industry Hills Aquatic Club Team (1981-1982) and the team won the National Outdoor Club Championships each of the two years. As a member of the National Team, he quickly advanced and for the next 13 years, he played in 19 major tournaments including: 1981 Pan American mini-tournament – 2nd, Edmonton Canada; 1981 World Student Games – 2nd, Bucharest, Romania; 1982 National Sports Festival – 4th, Colorado Springs; 1982 World Championships – 6th, Guayaquil, Ecuador; 1982 Tungsram Cup – 3rd, Budapest, Hungary; 1983 Fina Cup – 4th, Malibu, California; 1983 Pan American Games – 1st, Caracas, Venezuela; 1984 Tungsram Cup – 2nd, Budapest, Hungary; 1984 Olympic Games – 2nd, Los Angeles, USA; 1986 Goodwill Games – 2nd, Moscow, Russia; 1986 World Championships – 4th, Madrid, Spain; 1987 Pan American Games – 1st, Indianapolis, USA; 1987 Fina Cup – 4th, Thessaloniki, Greece; 1988 Olympic Games – 2nd, Seoul, Korea; 1990 Goodwill Games – 5th, Seattle, USA; 1991 World Championships – 4th, Perth, Australia; 1991 Fina Cup – 1st, Barcelona, Spain; 1991 Pan American Games – 2nd, Havana, Cuba; 1992 Olympic Games – 4th, Barcelona, Spain.

The 6 feet 5 inch, 190 pound Wilson, led every major tournament in saves since 1984, the same year he tended goal for the USA silver medal-winning team at the Los Angeles Olympics, where they were a close second behind Yugoslavia. At the 1988 Seoul Olympics, the USA again won the silver medal behind Yugoslavia. Wilson led the tournament with 68 saves, 10 saves ahead of Spain’s Jesus Rollan with 58 saves. U.S. coach Bill Barnett said, “Without Craig, we would have never gone as far as we did. He was our saving grace.” Four years later when finishing his Olympic career at Barcelona in 1992, the USA placed fourth behind Italy, Spain and the Unified Team. But Wilson was credited with an Olympic record, most saves at 88, which translated to a 70% efficiency. Gold medalist, Italy’s Francesco Attolico had a 54% efficiency, silver medalist, Spain’s Jesus Rollen had a 56% efficiency and bronze medalist, Unified’s Evgenyi Sharanov had a 57% efficiency.

Barcelona was the third straight Olympiad that the 35 year old led all goalies in numbers of saves. No other goalie in the sports history is even close to matching this accomplishment. He was selected outstanding goalie at the 1992 French International, Tungsram Cup and Catania Tournament. He was a member of the 1991 World Championship Team competing in Perth, Australia and was also a member of three Pan American Teams winning two gold medals (1983, 1987) and a silver medal (1991). He was voted two times as the World’s Top Goalkeeper. He competed on five FINA World Cup Teams for the U.S. (1982, 1984, 1988, 1990, 1991) winning the gold medal in 1991.

Craig competed for two years in the Italian professional water polo league, signing a contract with Ortegia in Sicily, a division one team that represented the seaside town of Siragusa, the islands oldest settlement started by the Greeks more than 2000 years ago. He was only the second American player signed to play in Italy and the first defensive player signed. Each weekly match drew 10,000 spectators usually with radio and television coverage.

As team goalie, Craig was a field leader, coach and wasn’t afraid to take risks. He thrived on the responsibility of having a direct impact on the outcome of the game. Craig is also the author of The Guide to Water Polo Goalkeeping, an illustrated booklet for water polo goalies.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Happy Birthday to our favorite Podiatrist !!!

 Marcella MacDonald (USA) 2019 Honor Open Water Swimmer

FOR THE RECORD: 16 ENGLISH CHANNEL CROSSINGS INCLUDING 3 DOUBLE CROSSINGS, LOCH NESS (36 km/22 miles), AROUND THE ISLAND OF JERSEY UK (66 km/41 miles), EDERLE SWIM (28 km/17.5 miles), Three times across LONG ISLAND SOUND (27 km/17 miles), 5 times around MANHATTAN ISLAND (46 km/28.5 miles), MOLOKAI CHANNEL (42 km/26 miles), TAMPA BAY (24 miles), 3 times BOSTON HARBOR (10 miles), MAUI CHANNEL (10 miles), MERCER ISLAND, WA (20 km/12.4 miles) and the TRIPLE CROWN.

When she was just 12-years-old, she knew open water swimming was her passion, and she told her younger sister that she would swim the English Channel one day.

In high school, Marcella MacDonald swam competitively until she was 17, and went to American International College as a softball player. While in college, she would sneak into the nearby Springfield College pool during her free time to swim.

In 1993, MacDonald first heard of an opportunity to swim around the island of Manhattan and has since completed the 28.5-mile swim five times.

In 1994, Marcella MacDonald made her childhood dream come true, at the age of 28. Since then, she has swum the English Channel 16 times, including three times when she did a double cross, swimming there and back. MacDonald was the first American woman to swim across the Channel, from England to France and back in 2001.

At 18.2 nautical miles, the English Channel is considered by many to be the “Mount Everest” of open water swims. Only 1500 men and women have successfully swam the English Channel and many, many more have tried. The trek generally starts at the White Cliffs of Dover at Shakespeare Beach and ends on the shore of Cape Gris Nez. By many accounts, it is the most difficult swim to finish. It’s a very cold, 20-mile swim in water that is much saltier, and the changing tides approaching the French shore can force swimmers to basically swim in place for up to four hours.

The English Channel and the Manhattan Island Marathon swim are a part of the Triple Crown of open water swimming, which also features the Catalina Channel Swim, a 20.1-mile swim from Catalina Island to the shores of San Pedro, California. MacDonald completed the triple crown in June, 2013 when she swam the Catalina Channel in 12 hours and 9 minutes.

MacDonald has also successfully completed the 24-mile Tampa Bay, Florida Marathon Swim, a solo swim around Mercer Island in Washington, and a 17-mile swim across the Long Island Sound in New York.

She has successfully crossed the Ka ’iwi Channel and Maui Channel in Hawaii and has also completed the 41-mile Round Jersey solo swim in the United Kingdom. MacDonald also swam the Lochness, a 22 mile swim.

This past September, MacDonald even attempted the 52-mile swim from the UK to Belgium in St. Margaret’s Bay, something no man or woman has ever completed. After 15 hours, an injury to her left shoulder forced her to stop at a beach north of France.

In addition to her open water swimming accomplishments, Dr. Marcella MacDonald is a Podiatrist who operates her own practice in Manchester, Connecticut. In her spare time, she enjoys coaching at the Laurel East Hartford YMCA and gives talks about her exciting adventures and open water swims.

MacDonald has already been inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 2005 and was named the Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year in 2011 by the World Open Water Swimming Association.

MacDonald still finds the time to train to ensure she is ready for the next big swim. She is usually in the water training every day at 5:30 a.m. This July, she is set to swim the English Channel again, on the 25th anniversary of her first crossing. The way she puts it, “it’s just right stroke, left stroke, right stroke, left stroke — for hours on end.”

Happy Birthday Honor Swimmer Tracey Wickham !!!


           TRACEY WICKHAM  (AUS) 1992 Honor Swimmer

FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1976 Olympic Team Member; WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: 1978, gold (400m & 800m freestyle); AUSTRALIAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: 17 (200m, 400m, 800m & 1500m freestyle, 100m butterfly); WORLD RECORDS: 5 (400m, 800m, 1500m freestyle); COMMONWEALTH GAMES: 1978, gold (400m & 800m freestyle), silver (200m freestyle & relay), bronze (relay); 1982 (400m & 800m freestyle); U.S. OPEN RECORD: 1 relay; AAU: 1 relay; FINA CUP: 1979, silver (400m freestyle), 6th (100m butterfly), 5th & 6th (relays).

Tracey Wickham of Australia set world records in the 400-meter and 800-meter freestyle in 1978.  It was not until 1987 that Janet Evans of the USA broke them-- a period of 9 1/2 years.  All totaled, she set five world records in the 400-meter, 800-meter and 1500-meter freestyles in a a period of two years.

Born in Melbourne, Victoria, in 1962, Tracey began swimming at age eight and broke her first State age group record in the 200-meter backstroke at age 10.  Her first National gold medal came in the 200-meter individual medley at age 12, but it was the middle and distance freestyles which were to be Tracey's strong events.  By age 13, she had made the 1976 Australian Olympic team as the youngest competitor on the team.

It was the year following the Olympics that Tracey and her family moved to Mission Viejo for a nine month period and trained with Mark Shubert.  Upon returning to Brisbane, Tracey broke the 1500-meter freestyle world record in a solo swim.  Two weeks later she broke the 800-meter freestyle world record and only six months later, the 400-meter freestyle world record.  Before the next year was over, she broke the 1500-meter and 800-meter freestyle world records again.

Tracy dominated the middle distance freestyle event for women in the years preceding the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

In 1978 Tracey started a nine week international swimming tour in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, by taking six seconds off the 800-meter freestyle world record of teammate Michelle Ford at the Commonwealth Games.  Next came the Berlin World Championships that same month and another record in the 400-meter freestyle where she also went on to win the 800-meter freestyle a few days later.  She became Australia's only gold medalist at the Championships and her country's first gold medalist in World Championship history.  Her remarkable accomplishments were all the more spectacular as her taper was getting stale after nine weeks on the road.  Six months later she reset the 1500-meter freestyle world record in the Australian Championships in Perth.

Tracey was selected for the 1980 Australian Olympic team but pulled out for personal and family reasons.  She retired, but came back eight months later to win gold medals in the 100-meter butterfly and 200-meter freestyle at the Australian National Championships.  Her coach, Laurie Lawrence, was her inspiration to continue training for the 1982 Commonwealth Championships in her hometown of Brisbane where she repeated her 400-meter and 800-meter freestyle victories from four years earlier and took the silver in the 200-meter freestyle.

Before Tracey was through, she had 260 Australian records, twelve Commonwealth records, and was voted the Australian Sportsperson of the Year in 1978, as well as receiving the Australian Sportswoman of the Year, 1978 and 1979.  Queen Elizabeth presented her with the prestigious M.B.E.--Member of the British Empire recognition in 1978.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Happy Birthday Larisa Ilchenko !!!

 Larisa Ilchenko (RUS) 2016 Honor Swimmer

FOR THE RECORD: 2008 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (10km); 2004 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: bronze (5km); 2005 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (5km); 2006 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (5km, 10km); 2007 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (5km, 10km); 2008 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (5km, 10km); 2009 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: silver (5km); 2006 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: bronze (5km)

This eight-time World Champion was unbeatable in major international competition beginning with her 2004 debut in Dubai as a 16-year-old, to her dramatic victory at the inaugural Olympic open water race at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Larisa Ilchenko was born in 1988, in the Russian city of Volgograd. She began swimming at age four, to build up her strength, but when she began winning competitions, she decided to become a serious competitive swimmer. The 200 and 400-meter freestyle were Larisa’s favorite distances, but she was also quite successful on relay teams, too. She tried open water swimming for the first time in 2004. Although she placed third in the Russian championships in the 5k, her coach decided to take her to the FINA World Championship event in Dubai, over the second place finisher. At age 16, she surprised everyone by beating American Sara McLarty, and won the gold in the 5k by over 30 seconds. Many people in the open water community thought it was a fluke, but Larisa was determined to prove everyone wrong.

She did just that the next year when she won the 5K race at the FINA World Aquatic Championships in Montreal. At the 2006 World Open Water Championships in Naples, Italy, she swam to gold in both the 5K and 10K races, a feat she would repeat at the 2007 FINA World Aquatics Championships, in Melbourne, Australia and the 2008 World Open Water Championships in Seville, Spain.

Three months after her victories in Spain, she competed in the Olympic Games in Beijing, where the 10K Open Water Swimming event became part of the Olympic program for the first time. Larisa Ilchenko won the first gold medal presented in Olympic competition for open water swimming.

It has been said that Larisa Ilchenko was if nothing, predictable. She swam all her races with a proven open water strategy, now dubbed, “The Ilchenko”. She lagged just behind the leaders, drafting off them during 90% of the race, saving the majority of her energy before unleashing herself on the pack with a sprint in the final 200-400 meters. This strategy is now very typical of the world’s very best open water swimmers. It was that strategy that won her five consecutive 5k World Championship titles, as well as titles in the three major pre-Olympic 10k races.

Swimming World Magazine named her Open Water Swimmer of the Year in 2006, 2007 and 2008. She had eight world titles and one Olympic gold under her belt when she decided to retire in 2010. Larisa Ilchenko will always be remembered as the first gold medalist in the women’s Marathon 10km Open Water Swimming event in Olympic history.

On this day in 1915, the amazing Pioneer Honor Swimmer, Alfred Nakache was born in Algeria.....

 

Alfred Nakache (FRA) 2019 Honor Pioneer Swimmer

FOR THE RECORD: 1936 OLYMPIC GAMES: 4TH (4x200m freestyle); 1948 OLYMPIC GAMES; 1938 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: silver (4x200m freestyle); WORLD RECORD: 200m breaststroke (1941), 3x100m relay 3 strokes (1946); FRENCH CHAMPION: 13 titles, including 9 consecutive: 100m freestyle (1935-38, 41, 42), 200m freestyle (1937-38, 1941–42), 400m freestyle (1942), 4x200m freestyle (1937-39, 1942, 1944-52); 1931 NORTH AFRICAN CHAMPION: 100m freestyle in 1931; 1935 MACCABIAH GAMES: silver (100m freestyle)

The name of Mark Spitz with his unprecedented seven gold medals and seven world records at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games stands out above all other achievements in Jewish sports history, but the title for the first great Jewish butterfly swimmer, belongs to another and this is his story. This is the story of French Algerian, Alfred Nakache.

With shoulders lined with hard and protruding muscles, “Artem” as he was known, took part in his first French Championships, in 1933, in Paris where he later moved from Algeria that summer, to train and to pursue a degree in Physical Education. At the 1934 French Nationals, he placed second in the 100m freestyle, behind his idol, Jean Taris. In 1935, Artem was one of 1,000 Jewish athletes who traveled to Tel Aviv to attend the second annual Maccabiah Games.

In front of Hitler, in 1936, at the Berlin Olympic Games, Nakache finished fourth in the 4×200m freestyle relay along with teammates, Christian Talli, Renรฉ Cavalero and Jean Taris. Although they didn’t make the podium, they had the pleasure of beating the Germans -who finished fifth- in their home country.

Between 1935 and 1938, Artem Nakache won seven national titles and began training in the new butterfly-breaststroke. After receiving his certificate as a professor of Physical Education, in 1939, he stopped training to join the French Air Force in preparation for war with Germany.

In the early part of the 1940’s, Nakache was forced to flee to Toulouse, into the unoccupied “Free Zone”, with his new wife Paule. There he was welcomed like a son by two historical figures of French swimming, coach Alban Minville and Jules Jany. He was provided a gym to run and he began training with Minville’s Toulouse Olympic Employee’s Club Dauphins. In 1941 and 1942 Nakache won six French National titles, but the high point of his career came on July 6th, 1941—when he broke American Jack Kasley’s world record, and Germany’s Joachim Balke’s European record, in the 200m breaststroke with a time of 2:36.8. His world record would last five years, until broken in 1946 by Hall of Famer Joe Verdeur of the USA.

As anti-Semitic persecution was intensifying across Europe, the French media was split in their support for Nakache. While Jean Borotra, the courageous Vichy Commissioner of Sport and Wimbledon tennis champion, celebrated his achievements, others called for his exclusion from national competitions and the record books because of his “Jewishness.”

In 1943, the French Swimming Federation finally gave in to the pressure from the Germans and banned Alfred Nakache from swimming in their 1943 National Championships. Although many of the country’s best swimmers refused to compete without Nakache, their support couldn’t save him from the Nazis. Finally, in December of 1943, Nakache, his wife and daughter, were arrested and sent to Auschwitz. Upon arrival he was immediately separated from his family.

Toward the end of the war, Nakache was moved to Buchenwald, where he was freed by the Allies in 1945. Of the 1,368 men, women and children in their death camp convoy, Nakache was one of only 47 who survived. His wife and daughter did not. Four months later and weighing less than 100 pounds, he returned to Toulouse, where he lived with the Jany family. Amazingly, less than a year after the liberation of Buchenwald, he was part of the French team in 1946 that set a world record in the 3×100m medley relay and reclaimed his title as French national champion in the 200m breaststroke.

He completed a truly remarkable comeback by qualifying for the 1948 French Olympic Team in two sports. At the London Games, 34-year-old Alfred Nakache swam well enough to reach the semi-finals in the 200m breaststroke, and after swimming concluded, he was a member of the French water polo team that finished in sixth place overall.

Nakache retired from swimming in the early 1950s and devoted himself to his gym and teaching. In addition, he helped train 1952 Olympic champion Jean Boiteux. With his long over-due induction, Nakache will forever be reunited with his idol, Jean Taris, his coach Alban Minville and world-record setting relay teammates, Georges Vallery and Alex Jany, into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Open Water Swimmer, Mercedes Gleitze was born on this day in 1900...

 Mercedes Gleitze (GBR) 2014 Honor Pioneer Open Water Swimmer

FOR THE RECORD: BRITISH LONG DISTANCE SWIMMER: 1921-1932; FIRST EUROPEAN FEMALE TO SWIM THE ENGLISH CHANNEL: 1927; FIRST SWIMMER TO COMPLETE STRAITS OF GIBRALTAR: 1928; COMPLETED 51 ENDURANCE SWIMS, HALF OF THEM LASTING OVER 26 HOURS.

When Winston Churchill defined success as going from failure to failure without the loss of enthusiasm, he might have been thinking of Mercedes Gleitze.

She worked as a stenographer but dreamed of being a professional swimmer and the first woman to swim across the English Channel. But swimming the Channel would not be easy for Mercedes Gleitze. She made her first attempt in 1922, failed seven times and lost her dream to Gertrude Ederle in 1926. But she had a never-say-die spirit and became the first English woman to conquer the Channel, on her eighth attempt, in 1927.

Mercedes Gleitze may have been lost to history if the Channel Swimming Association had not questioned the legitimacy of her swim. She was so upset by the insinuation of cheating, that she announced she would swim it again 14 days later, to prove the naysayers wrong. Of course this caused a big media stir, and brought her to the attention of Hans Wilsdorf, founder of the Rolex watch company. For what she called her “vindication swim” Wilsdorf asked her to wear his newly invented “Oyster,” the world’s first waterproof watch. She agreed and wore it on a ribbon around her neck. Afterwards, the Oyster was found to have kept perfect time throughout its immersion. The swim itself, however, was not successful . The water was much colder than it had been a fortnight earlier and Mercedes had to be pulled out of the sea. Still, the Association admired her pluck, acknowledged her courage in undertaking this swim and agreed to recognize her first swim. It also proved to be a brilliant piece of marketing for the Rolex.

It wasn’t just her association with Rolex that made Mercedes Gleitze an international sports celebrity. In the years that followed, she set dozens of marathon and endurance records around the globe. The media followed her every move and marketers established connections between her stamina and glamour - with products as varied as honey, tea, whiskey and corsets. Her reputation was further enhanced when she established a Fund for Destitute Men and Women.

In an era when women were taught to believe that their role in life was purely domestic, the star persona of Mercedes Gleitze inspired women and girls around the globe to realize they were not weak and fragile human beings.