Friday, July 16, 2021
Thursday, July 15, 2021
MICHELLE FORD (AUS) 1994 Honor Swimmer
FOR THE RECORD: 1980 Olympic Games: gold (800m Freestyle), bronze (200m Butterfly); Two World Records (800m Freestyle); 1978 Commonwealth Games: gold (200m Butterfly), silver 400m and 800m Freestyle), bronze (200m Freestyle and 4x100m Free Relay); 1982 Commonwealth Games: gold (200m Butterfly), silver (800m Freestyle); Four Australian National Championships (200m Butterfly).
Crazy about the water since age four, she was touted as the coming superstar of Australian swimming, and at age 13 she broke nine records, six state and three national, all in three days. Two of those records were by Shane Gould and Jenny Turrall. That same year she earned a spot on the 1976 Olympic team, the second youngest Australian ever to do so. Just one year later, she set her first world record in the 800 freestyle. Little did she know her times in the 800 free would someday beat the times swum earlier by the immortal Murray Rose and John Konrads.
This blonde haired, blue eyed beauty continued her winning streak at the 1978 Commonwealth Games, taking a gold in the 200 butterfly, two silvers in the 400 and 800 free and two bronzes in the 200 free and 400 freestyle relay.
But Michelle Ford's greatest memory is winning the gold medal in the 800 freestyle and bronze in the 200 butterfly in the Moscow 1980 Olympics. "Competing in the Olympics helped define everything I am today," she said. Ford was named Amateur Athlete of the Year in 1980. Her name is cast in gold as the Australian women's team has not won a gold in the Olympics since 1980.
Ford's Olympic gold did not stop her. She went out hard and fast in the 1982 Commonwealth Games (her second) to take the gold in the 200 fly and silver in the 800 free. During the course of her career, she won four Australian National Championships.
Michelle Ford was a swimmer who made many coaches look great including Hall of Famer Don Talbot, Bill Sweetenham in Australia and Don Lamont at the University of Southern California. Michelle was elected to the International Olympic Committee Athletes Commission 12 person board and was a member of the Olympic Academy from 1984 to 1988. She retired from active competition in 1985 and two years later was invited to work with the Olympic Museum in Switzerland. In 1988 she edited the FINA learn to swim manual.
Ford has used her master's degree in sports psychology to manage the growth and budgeting of 15 sports as the head of the University Association of Switzerland. Impacting three countries (Australia, Switzerland and the USA) her fluid and elegant style in and out of the water are her trademark.
Wednesday, July 14, 2021
Agnes Kovacs (HUN) 2014 Honor Swimmer
FOR THE RECORD: 1996 OLYMPIC GAMES: bronze (200m breaststroke); 2000 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (200m breaststroke); 1998 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (200m breaststroke); 2001 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (200m breaststroke), bronze (100m breaststroke); 1995 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: silver (4x100m medley), bronze (100m breaststroke); 1997 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (100m breaststroke, 200m breaststroke); 1999 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (50m breaststroke, 100m breaststroke, 200m breaststroke); 2000 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (50m breaststroke, 100m breaststroke), silver (200m breaststroke); 2006 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: bronze (50m breaststroke, 100m breaststroke, 200m breaststroke); 1999 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS (25m): silver (50m breaststroke, 100m breaststroke, 200m breaststroke); 2002 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS (25m): bronze (100m breaststroke); two-time EUROPEAN SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: 1997 and 1998; HUNGARIAN SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR: 1997-2000.
Born in Budapest, Agnes Kovacs learned to swim when she was just two and a half years old, and loved the water from the very start. When she was just nine years old, her swimming teacher, Bea Szucs recommended she join the program at the Kőér St. Pool where she made rapid progress. At the age of 13 she had her first success in the Hungarian National Age Group Championships and as a fourteen year old, she won the European Junior Championship in the 100 yard breaststroke. Within days of her fifteenth birthday, she won the Olympic bronze medal in the 200 meter breaststroke in Atlanta, in 1996.
Following in the wake of Hall of Famer Krisztina Egerszegi, Agnes would be named Hungary’s best female swimmer and her country’s Sportswoman of the year for the next four years. Dominating the 200 meter breaststroke in all international competition from 1997 to 2000, she won gold at both the FINA World Championships in 1998, and then the Olympic gold medal, in Sydney, in 2000.
Following her Olympic success, Kovacs won her event again at the 2001 FINA Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, before moving to the United States to attend Arizona State University. When she left ASU in 2005 it was as a fifteen-time All-American, as the schools top senior female athlete, and with a degree in supply chain management.
Returning to Hungary, she rejoined the national team program and was a crowd favorite, winning three medals at the 2006 European Championships in the same pool where she first learned to swim twenty-two years earlier, on Budapest’s historic Margaret Island.
In addition to her Olympic and NCAA success, Agnes won a total of 25 medals at the European Championships, long and short course, and was a 53-time Hungarian National Champion from 1996 through 2007.
For Agnes, the support of her family was key to becoming a top level swimmer. She is currently married and lives with her husband and son in Hungary, where she is a PhD student at the Semmelweis University Faculty of Physical Education and Sports Sciences.
Sunday, July 11, 2021
PAMELA MORRIS (USA) 1965 Honor Synchronized Swimmer
FOR THE RECORD: U.S. SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMING NATIONALS: 1965 Indoor Titles (solo, duet, team); 1965 Outdoor Titles (solo, duet, team).
In the young sport of synchronized swimming so popular in the United States and Canada, the quality and quantity of competition has improved dramatically since the sport began its national competition in 1946, adding solo in 1950. Ruth and Gloria Geduldig of the Chicago Town Club were the first indoor and outdoor duet champions.
June Taylor and Beulah Gundling respectively won the first four indoor and outdoor solo titles, but in the entire 16 years of three way competition, only one girl, Pame Morris of the San Francisco Merionettes has been a triple winner. Pame accomplished this difficult combination of individual and team performance twice, winning solo, duet and team titles (the synchronized swimming hat trick) in both the 1965 indoor and outdoor championships at Houston, Texas and Maumee, Ohio. Pame's duets teamed with Patty Willard. These two great performers were joined in the winning San Francisco Merionettes team competition by Margo McGrath, Rhea Irvine, Patsy Mical, Carol Redmond, Kathie McBride and Sharon Lawson.
In recognizing the recently retired Pame Morris as an honoree, the Swimming Hall of Fame acknowledges synchronized swimming as a mature sport in the swimming framework of aquatic sports.
**Please note: this bio was written the year the honoree was inducted, 1965.