Tuesday, November 30, 2021

SOLD OUT ISHOF’s 56th Annual Honoree Induction Ceremony Huge Success

The International Swimming Hall of Fame hosted it’s 56th annual Honoree Induction ceremony, dinner and silent auction on October 9th.  It was a bit different than most other inductions, in that none of our international Honorees were able to travel to the US to attend because of Covid restrictions.  We took the safe road and hosted a “USA only” induction, except for Elvira KhasynovaSynchronized Swimmer from Russia, who now lives in Northern California and coaches at Stanford.

The biggest change was that we combined the Masters International Swimming Hall of Fame Honorees and the Paragon Award Winners into the Saturday evening Induction program.

In the past, the Paragon and the ISHOF Awards had its own evening the night before, and the Masters induction was during the annual United States Aquatic Sports Convention, which did not take place this year.

The weekend began with a luncheon at the ISHOF front building, followed by a tour of the facility given by Rowdy Gaines, and ISHOF Aquatic Center Manager, Laura Voet.  As all could see, that the renovation of the aquatic center is really moving along. All were mesmerized with the 27-meter high diving tower.


Photo Courtesy: Jason Leidy

Saturday evening’s festivities began with a cocktail reception and silent auction.

The evening was a sell out with Honorees, Board Members, aquatic greats, South Floridians, and local VIPs mingling to make new friends and reestablish existing ones.

The night opened with a video from our CEO, Brent Rutemiller, who was unable to attend the induction because he is fighting a rare form of cancer.  He planned on attending up until the day before when his doctors at Mayo Clinic advised against it. A real disappointment, but we will hopefully see him next year.

The evening saw 1964 Olympic gold medalist – Debbie Meyers and 1984 Olympic gold medalist and NBC Olympic Commentator – Rowdy Gaines emceeing the event.

This year, ISHOF inducted two Honor Swimmers: Rebecca Soni and Brendan Hansen.

Rebecca Soni is a three-time Olympic gold medalist specializing in the breaststroke.  Soni won back-to-back gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games in the 200m Breaststroke.  She was also a member of the 4 x 100 medley gold medal relay team that took gold in London.  Rebecca was inducted by fellow breaststroker, 1964 Olympic gold medalist, Catie Ball.

Rebecca Soni

Brendan Hansen is also a breaststroke specialist and a three-time Olympic gold medalist.  His Olympic career spans from 2004 Athens through 2012 London. Brendan was on the gold medal winning medley relay for three consecutive Games, 2004, 2008 and 2012, making him the top breaststrokers for eight solid years. Brendan was inducted by his University of Texas Coach, 2002 ISHOF Honor Coach, Eddie Reese.

Brendan Hanson

ISHOF inducted David Marsh as an Honor Coach. Marsh was the 2016 Team USA Head Olympic Women’s Swimming Coach, the winningest coach in NCAA history in the state of Alabama, winning more titles than the famed Bear Bryant, with seven men’s and five women’s titles. Rowdy Gaines, one of Marsh’s closest friends, inducted his former Auburn teammate.

David Marsh

Elvira Khasyanova, three-time Olympic gold medalist (2004, 2008, 2012) and nine-time World Champion for Russia in synchronized swimming was able to be present for her induction.  She is an assistant coach at Stanford University, living in California. Elvira was a member of Russia’s National Team beginning in 1999 until she announced her retirement in 2012.  She was inducted by ISHOF Open Water Swimmer and Board of Director, Sandra Bucha.


Last but certainly not least, was our longtime colleague and friend, Robert T. “Bob” Duenkel.  Bob Duenkel was inducted this year as an Honor Contributor.  Bob had been with ISHOF since the 1970’s.  There was no one like Bob.  He was a walking encyclopedia on swimming and aquatic sports.  Everyone knew and loved him.  He was the face of ISHOF along with Buck Dawson for so many years. We lost Bob a couple of years ago, so his wife Colette, and daughter Teagan accepted the award on his behalf.  What made the induction really special, was that Bob was inducted posthumously by his sister, Honor Swimmer and 1964 Olympic gold medalist (400 freestyle), Ginny Duenkel.

Inductees at the 2021 Hall of Fame

Ginny Duenkel (Inducted ’85), Debbie Meyer (Inducted ’77), Teagan Duenkel, and Colette Duenkel

The culmination of the evening was the ISHOF Lifetime Achievement Award.  The Award has only been given out four other times in ISHOF’s history.  Previous recipients include: Bob and Norma MaxwellGreta AndersonJohn McLaughlin, and most recently Jim Wood.

The award was created to recognize the lifetime dedication and achievements in the swimming community.  Eddie Reese was a natural selection for ISHOF’s Lifetime Achievement Award this year.  Beginning his 57th year in the sport and his 44th year at Texas, Reese has had one of the most successful coaching careers in our sport, maybe in any sport.  He recently won his 15th National Championship at the University of Texas.  Eddie thought briefly about retiring over the Summer, bur he was back on the pool deck for the start of the new year looking for that 16th championship! Reese was inducted into ISHOF in 2002 as an Honor Coach.  We now congratulate him as ISHOF’s newest Lifetime Achievement Award winner.


Masters International Swimming Hall of Fame

This year’s 2021 Class of Master International Swimming Hall of Fame Honorees included one swimmer, one diver, one coach, and one contributor.

Clay Britt, Honor Swimmer, of the Ancient Mariners Masters was always at the top of his age group.  He even swam for Eddie Reese back in the 1980’s at the University of Texas. Britt has set 23 FINA Masters World Records in seven different age groups beginning in the 25-29.  He is a backstroke, fly  and IM Specialist, recording 281 Top Ten times, 49 individual USMS records and has been a 28-time individual pool All-American. Britt also coaches at his club, the Ancient Mariners, located outside the Washington D.C. area.


Kerry O’Brien, Honor Coach, led a 40-year coaching career, leading Walnut Creek Masters to become one of the USMS’s largest teams.  Under his leadership, Walnut Creek became a USMS Gold Club, growing from just 70 members to more than 450. The club has been ranked among the best at USMS National Championships and is considered a model Club in the U.S.  Its philosophy is that participation in aquatics should be a life-enhancing experience.


Rose Cody, Honor Contributor for the sport of Synchronized Swimming is considered to be the Mother of Masters synchronized swimming in Puerto Rico.  Synchronized Swimming would not be where it is today without Rose.  She has been involved in the sport on all levels.  She has run Masters World Championships for the sport, named Director of the event. Cody has been the FINA Masters Synchro Chair from 1994-2017; been a member of the FINA Masters Technical Committee for Synchro from 1994-2017 and has been a member of the FINA Technical Committee for Synchro for many years; She has been a UANA Committee Member for over 20 years, a FINA certified judge from 1994-2004 and a CCCAN Committee Member from 1976-2004.


David Cotton, Honor Diver has attended eight FINA World Championships, between the years 2000 and 2017, winning 11 gold, 12 silver and three bronze medals, competing in four age groups, 45-49 through 60-64.  David began diving early on, competed in high school, attended Pepperdine University on a full athletic scholarship and placed 12th in the US Nationals in 1980 on the 10-meter platform.  He represented the USA in the 1985 Maccabiah Games in Tel Aviv, where he took gold on the 10-meter and silver on the 3-meter.


Paragon Awards

This year’s Paragon Award winners that were present were a fabulous group.  Ft. Lauderdale’s very own, Dave Burgering, Head Diving Coach of the Ft. Lauderdale Dive Team was honored with the Paragon Award in the sport of Diving.  Dave began his career as a diver, making the 1980 Olympic Team, only to have it taken away when the U.S. boycotted the Games.  He attended Michigan State, went on to dive for the great Honor Coach, Dr. Ron O’Brien, out at Mission Viejo, CA, where he eventually became a coach.  He later travelled to Florida and Mission Bay in Boca Raton, where he continued his success from Mission Viejo, winning more Junior National titles. During all the years of coaching, Dave found time to give back to the sport and serve as the President of US Diving in 2002.


In the sport of synchronized swimming in the U.S.A., Betty Hazle has done it all.  Athlete, coach, judge and sport administrator.  She was a member of the USA National Team Coaching staff from 1989-1991 and 1994-1995; She has chaired the rules, governance and international relations committees; been a Board Member for USA Synchronized Swimming, served as Technical Vice Chair, Administrative Vice Chair and eventually the organization’s President.  Hazle has served as the editor for the USA Synchro rule book for the past 20 years and has served as Chef de Mission for the FINA World Championships for 14 years (2003-2017).  Most recently, Betty has just returned from Tokyo serving as an artistic swimming judge for the 2020/21 Olympic Games.


All-American water polo player and swimmer, Lynn Comer Kachmarik was presented this year’s Paragon award for water polo.  She was a 10-year member and captain of the United States National Water Polo team as a player, coach, and member of the USA Water Polo’s Executive Committee.  She has served as the Head Swimming and Water Polo coach at Bucknell University, served as Athletic Director at St. Mary’s College and moved on to become the   V.P./General Manager of the South Bend Silver Hawks Baseball Team.  Lynn has also worked at the University of Notre Dame and served as the National Outreach Director for Play Like A Champion Today!

Lynn-Comer-Kachmarik (1)

Florence “Flo” Werner taught swimming for the American Red Cross (ARC) for over 50 years, and the ARC celebrated that achievement in 2011.  Today she is 91 years young, and she still wants to help people learn to swim.  As she will tell you, “It was her whole life!”  She began giving lessons for the ARC in the City of Miami in 1961 at the Curtis Pool, a few blocks from downtown Miami.  Her life took many turns, but the constant for Flo was teaching swimming and making people safe around the water.  Even when adults were afraid of the water, Flo helped make them comfortable enough to teach them how to swim.  Therefore, Florence Werner was awarded this year’s Paragon Award for Recreational Swimming.


There were a lot of wonderful speeches, a lot of sharing of stories and remembering of all those who made these wonderful aquatic people become who they are today.

Another special part of the evening is seeing Honorees that were able to make it back to Fort Lauderdale to help celebrate the new class of inductees.  This year, our returning Honorees were: Ginny Duenkel FuldnerAaron PeirsolTom Gompf, Eddie Reese, Catie Ball CondonRowdy GainesDebby MeyerSandra Bucha, and Randy Reese.


Debbie Meyers and Rowdy Gaines at the 2021 Hall of Fame Induction

Masters Honorees attending were: Tom BoakCarolyn BoakTim Shead, and John Denninger

Most importantly, we have to thank all our sponsors, who without their support, none of this would be possible.  Autopilot, the Bill Kent Family Foundation, the City of Fort Lauderdale, Duraflex, Every Child A Swimmer, FINA, Florida Gold Coast, Florida Pool Pro, Hensel Phelps, Horner Express, Keiser University, Paragon/Pentair, Pool & Hot Tub Alliance, The Raymond C. Rude Foundation, SR Smith, Swiss Timing, USA Artistic Swimming, USAS, USA Diving, USA Swimming, US Masters Swimming, Visit Lauderdale; And a special thank you to all our new sponsors, thanks to the hard work of our new Development Director, Alyssa Lovitt; Florida Craft, Hotwire, Memorial Healthcare System, Stefano Ricci,

Dr. Bill Kent is the first person to receive the International Swimming Hall of Fame Legacy Award for his many years serving on ISHOF’s board in various capacities including Treasurer and currently Chairman.  He has donated countless hours of his time and significant financial support.

Most recently, Dr. Kent has been the leading force in ISHOF acquiring the Every Child A Swimmer trademark and getting legislation passed at the Florida State legislature requiring all parents to be informed on the importance of swimming lessons in children before entering kindergarten.

The award is an exact replica of the Olympic Tiles that currently sit outside the main ISHOF Museum which was installed in 1968.  The current tiles will be removed prior to the demolition of our current museum and relocated to another visible spot in 2025.

Dr. Bill Kent receiving the Legacy-Award

Our date for 2022 has been set – It is Saturday, October 15, 2022.  Please mark your calendars.  We will be honoring all those international honorees and possibly a few others who were not able to be inducted this year.


As of now, the class of 2022 includes:

Honor Swimmers

Michael Klim, Australia

Jon Sieben, Australia

Daichi Suzuki, Japan


Honor Open Water Swimmer

Marilyn Bell, Canada


Honor Diver

Matthew Micham, Australia


Honor Water Polo Player

Mirko Vicevic, Yugoslavia/Montenegro


Honor Coach

Ursula Carlile, Australia


Honor Contributor

Peter Hurezeler, Switzerland

Monday, November 29, 2021

Swimming Hall of Fame complex might be in line for stunner of a makeover. The cost: $90 million.

Article from the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel

FORT LAUDERDALE — An extreme makeover could be coming to two International Swimming Hall of Fame buildings that perch like bookends on either side of Fort Lauderdale’s aquatic center.

The $90 million project would bring two sleek new towers — a five-story museum and a five-story welcome center — to the city-owned parcel between the Intracoastal and Seabreeze Boulevard, just south of Las Olas Boulevard.

The deal still needs city approval but received an initial nod from the Fort Lauderdale commission last week.

Commissioner Steve Glassman argued in favor of the project, saying it would dovetail with the city’s $47 million renovation of the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Center, which broke ground in April 2019 and is expected to wrap up in September.

The plan to revamp both Hall of Fame buildings would complete the 5-acre peninsula, Glassman said.

“Folks love the conceptual design,” he said. “The entire aquatic community is thrilled about returning to Fort Lauderdale and seeing this project happen. I think it’s a must.”

The two-story welcome center on the east end of the man-made peninsula would be knocked down. So would the two-story museum on the west end overlooking the Intracoastal. Both buildings were built in the mid-1960s and are in dire need of repair, according to the developer.

Big change is in the works for the International Swimming Hall of Fame, which shares space with the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Center on a 5-acre man-made peninsula that juts into the Intracoastal Waterway. The nonprofit hopes to bring a new museum to town. (Arquitectonica/Arquitectonica)

New look by 2025

If the project gets the green light, the new towers would open by 2025, says Mario Caprini, CEO of Capital Group P3 of Florida.

The financial model hinges on space for tenants. Under the current proposal, the developer would pay for construction with the city guaranteeing the loan for both buildings and contributing $5 million over the course of a 30-year master lease.

Final approval is likely months away. If commissioners kill the deal, taxpayers will be on the hook for $2.4 million to reimburse Hall of Fame Partners LLC for preliminary work done on the site. Commissioners agreed to those terms last week.

City officials first got a look at the plans in September 2020, when the Hall of Fame Partners — a partnership between Capital Group P3 and Hensel Phelps Construction Co. — submitted an unsolicited proposal to redevelop the buildings at the Hall of Fame complex at 501 Seabreeze Blvd.

Hensel Phelps is the contractor handling the renovation of the aquatic center.

RELATED: Pool for the stars: New Hall of Fame complex on the way with dive tower to the sky »

A tall five stories

Here’s what’s planned: Though only five stories, the museum would stand 105 feet high — equal to 10 stories — on the west side of the peninsula close to the Intracoastal. The welcome center would be slightly shorter at 94 feet and sit on the east end near Seabreeze Boulevard.

The two new buildings would stand even higher than the aquatic center’s new dive tower, the western hemisphere’s tallest at 27 meters, or 89 feet.

The design for the west tower calls for a new 20,000-square-foot museum, a large ballroom and a rooftop restaurant with outdoor dining, as well as a covered teaching pool. According to the developer’s pitch, visitors would have breathtaking views of the Intracoastal to the west and the aquatic center and the ocean to the east. The plan would also create enough parking for 202 cars and a public promenade at the western end of the peninsula lining the edge of the Intracoastal.

A rendering of the two new International Swimming Hall of Fame buildings that would sit on either side of the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Center. City commissioners have not yet signed off on the $90 million project. (Arquitectonica/Arquitectonica)

The east tower would serve as a gateway to the aquatic center and would feature a street-side cafĂ©, new offices for the city’s lifeguards and leasable commercial space. Two outside terraces would let visitors enjoy their coffee while taking in views of both the beach to the east and the aquatic center to the west.

The Hall of Fame’s current lease ends in 2049.

According to the developer, if the existing buildings were to be left standing, they’d need $18 million in work to stay open beyond the next decade. And the city would be required to make those upgrades under the current lease. The cost to taxpayers would increase to $33 million if the city were to borrow the money through a 20-year bond.

If the project gets built, the city would take ownership of the buildings in 30 years for $1.

Susannah Bryan can be reached at sbryan@sunsentinel.com or on Twitter @Susannah_ Bryan

Brent Rutemiller, ISHOF CEO and Swimming World Publisher, Continues to Inspire With Leukemia Fight

Brent Rutemiller, ISHOF CEO and Swimming World Publisher, Continues to Inspire With Leukemia Fight


This Thanksgiving weekend, the staff at Swimming World is thankful for many things. We are thankful that swim meets are back. We are thankful that Olympic dreams were achieved, and we are thankful that inspirational stories continue to bring the best out in our sport.

One of those inspirational stories has come from within our own staff this past year. Swimming World Publisher and International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) CEO Brent Rutemiller has inspired us with his courageous battle against a rare form of blood plasma cancer.

He has been extremely open with his fight, a point that is helping rally people around him and in their own fights, as well as serve as self motivation to fight the disease head on. Rutemiller has faced his diagnosis with determination and continues his firm belief that he will claim victory. Already, he has taken major steps toward that outcome during his treatment.

“I was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive cancer called Plasma Cell Leukemia 10 weeks ago over Memorial Day Weekend. Almost immediately, I started to get two Chemo treatments per week. The Chemo treatments have been manageable, and we have seen progress in reducing the cancer cells in my blood. We still have a long way to go, but it is all manageable,” Brent Rutemiller wrote in a letter to his staff at ISHOF, Swimming World and his inner circle. “I have not stopped working in my capacity as CEO of the International Swimming Hall of Fame and Publisher of Swimming World. The board and staff support has been amazing, and I feel that the corporation has not lost a step during my challenge. We hit record traffic during the Olympics thanks to the editorial staff!”

During Memorial Day Weekend Rutemiller, 65, thought he had a kidney stone, but it was in fact a rare plasma cell leukemia or multiple myeloma. He started almost immediately on chemotherapy, then has added stem cell replacement procedures.

It isn’t only the swimming community that has been inspired by Rutemiller’s fight.

“They’ll harvest my own stem cells then basically pull out all my marrow and replace it with my original stem cells,” Rutemiller told the Arizona Republic, his hometown paper that wrote a thoughtful and inspiring update story. “Pretty much take me back to factory settings. I just told them leave the hard drive. They say there’s no cure, you can just put it into long term (remission). I’m very optimistic.”

He has showed that optimism all year, including in a 6,500-yard swim to celebrate his 65th birthday.

“To show that age is relative to the state of mind. To show that one can thrive in the middle of a pandemic,” Brent Rutemiller said at the time about his birthday day. “To set an example to those younger as to what old is not. I did it for my newborn grandson, so that someday he may be inspired to challenge himself with high goals. I did it for my wife who just survived a stage two cancer scare. I did it because I can.”

In addition to continuing his work, despite the physical setbacks, Rutemiller has embraced the time with his family, the balancing act bringing out the best in him, and inspiring the rest of us.

ISHOF Honoree, supporter and longtime friend, Tom Gompf, releases his memoir, "A Life Aloft!"

Olympian’s memoir looks back at A Life Aloft 

CG Sports Publishing releases diving champion Thomas Gompf’s story 

(Nov. 19, 2021) A Life Aloft, a memoir from 1964 Olympic bronze medalist Thomas Gompf, will be published  by CG Sports Publishing on Friday, Nov. 19. The book tells of Gompf’s life as a world-class diver and lifelong  champion of the sport while also reflecting on his experiences as a wartime and commercial pilot. 

Gompf, who lives in Lakeland, Florida, won the bronze medal in the 10-meter platform diving event in the  1964 Tokyo Olympics. He enjoyed years as a professional diver, soaring from great heights over everything  from small hotel pools to the cliffs of Acapulco and earned three world high-diving championship titles. He  

was instrumental in bringing entertaining high-diving specials to the TV screens of the 1970s and the fan favorite synchronized diving event to the Olympic program. He was inducted into the International Swimming  Hall of Fame in 2002 as an honor contributor. 

Gompf later was head diving coach at the University of Miami, where he built the program from the ground  up by recruiting talented future Olympians, including Melissa Briley and Greg Louganis. Simultaneously, he  enjoyed a 30-year career as a commercial pilot, a job which came in handy as he traveled the world as a member of FINA, the international organization that governs aquatic sports. As part of FINA, he had a vote in  the 1980 Olympic boycott, a story that is relayed in the book. 

Gompf juggled much of his competitive diving career with his service in the U.S. Air Force, stationed, at times,  in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. A Life Aloft contains stories and scenes from his wartime years  and illustrates the attributes and balance needed to be both an elite athlete and military officer. 

Gompf grew up in Dayton, Ohio, and he credits his time as a lonely child at the Dayton YMCA with giving him  his start in diving. The YMCA, he says, “was his real home.” 

“I had a humble beginning,” Gompf said, “but through great early mentors and lucky opportunities in sport, I  have accomplished much I am proud of. It’s always my hope and motivation to be paving the way for the next  generation of divers, so I can give back to the sport that has done so much for me.” 

A Life Aloft was co-written with Elaine K. Howley of Boston, and contains a foreword written by Steve  McFarland, the chairman and CEO of Duraflex International, a company that makes diving boards. The work  was commissioned by the Raymond C. Rude Supporting Foundation, which has provided millions of dollars in  support of diving and divers worldwide. Ray Rude designed and developed the first Duraflex diving board  with Gompf’s input, and it is the only diving board authorized for use in Olympic competition. 

A Life Aloft is available from Ingram and wherever books are sold.  


Media assets including A Life Aloft book info sheet, cover images, and photos of the authors 

Order A Life Aloft 

Bulk orders are available by contacting publishing@cgsportsmanagement.com

About CG Sports Publishing CG Sports Publishing is in the storytelling business. Founded as part of the  CG Sports Company in 2019, CG Sports Publishing brings athlete-focused titles to the marketplace. Follow on