A Treasure Writes The Treasures Of The CNE
Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.
A sport comprises of athletes, coaches, trainers, officials, administrators, physicians, and volunteers. In the case of open water swimming, the contributions of escort pilots, navigators, kayakers, paddlers, support crew, and timers are also invaluable.
There is another group of individuals who provide immense value to the sport: authors, filmmakers, documentarists and historians. Those people capture the achievements of the swimmers for contemporary community and for swimmers in the long distant future.
Lee Shimano falls in this latter category. She is an author, historian, and a leading collector of memorabilia from the now-defunct, but long-renowned Canadian National Exhibition. She has collected, archived and documented a wide variety of historical documents and results and presented the information with a rich, introspective perspective on the richest and most competitive open water races of the 20th century.
Shimano authored the Treasures of the CNE: Memorabilia and Tales from the Canadian National Exhibition that has many photos of cherished memorabilia from the CNE. The first 180-page edition, published on June 21, 2017, offers valuable insights and information from the professional marathon swims in the 1920’s and 1930’s.
One of the stars of the CNE who Shimano writes about is Ernest Vierkoetter [see below]. The German swimmer from Cologne was known as the Black Shark as he coated himself with black axle grease before his swims and was inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 1978 as an Honor Swimmer.
In 1926, he became the fastest person to cross the 33.5 km English Channel in 12 hours 40 minutes. He swam in the 1927 Lake George Marathon Swim and was a member of the International Professional Swimmers Association. At the age of 26, he won the first Canadian National Exhibition professional marathon swim over 174 swimmers from around the world. He finished the 33 km course in 11 hours 45 minutes in water that ranged from 6.7°-8.9°C (44°-48°F). He placed second in the 1928 Canadian National Exhibition race and fifth in the 1930 Canadian National Exhibition race.
He eventually moved from Germany to Toronto to open a swimming instruction school. Until the time of his death in 1967, he served as the coach of the Baraca Club and an official of the Canadian National Exhibition Swims.
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