Champions, Adventurers, Record Holders, Endurers, And Supporters In The Hall Of Fame

Champions, Adventurers, Record Holders, Endurers, And Supporters In The Hall Of Fame

Champions, Adventurers, Record Holders, Endurers, Supporters In The Hall Of Fame

Sponsored by KAATSU Global, Huntington Beach, California.

This year, Julian Critchlow (Honor Administrator from the UK), Neville Smith (Honor Administrator from South Africa), Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli (Honor Organization from Italy), Gabriel Chaillou (Honor Swimmer from Argentina), Ronnie Wong Man Chiu, BBS, JP (Honor Administrator from Hong Kong), Yvetta Tulip Hlaváčová (Honor Swimmer from the Czech Republic), Stéphane Gomez (Honor Swimmer from France shown above), and Viola Valli (Honor Swimmer from Italy) were inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame‘s Class of 2021.

Additionally, Commander Charles Gerald Forsberg OBE, RN (Rtd.) (Dale Petranech Award for Services to the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame from the UK), Colin Hill (International Swimming Hall of Fame‘s Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award from the UK), and Sarah Thomas (International Swimming Hall of Fame‘s Poseidon Award from the USA) received other awards from the International Swimming Hall of Fame or International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.

Steven Munatones commented on the Class of 2021 and all the previous classes since 1963, “When I look upon the inductees of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame over the decades, I see these luminaries fitting into five general categories:

1. Champions
2. Adventurers/Pioneers
3. Record Holders
4. Endurers
5. Supporters

Champions are those swimmers who are fastest in head-to-head competitions against other great open water swimmers in major international competitions. Abdellatief Abou Heif of Egypt in the 1950s, American John Kinsella in the 1970s, Australian Shelley Taylor-Smith in the 1980s, American Chad Hundeby in the 1990s, the 2008 Olympic champion Maarten van der Weijden of the Netherlands, and Petar Stoychev of Bulgaria are examples of these Champions. Clearly, the individuals demonstrated their speed, strategy and competitiveness over their career – based on years of doing hard, tough workouts behind the scenes and maintaining a steely mindset in competitions.

Adventurers or Pioneers are those swimmers who have done unprecedented swims of historical proportions. Barry Devonport’s first swim across the Cook Strait or David Yudovin’ unprecedented swims around the world, and Robert Dowling‘s first circumnavigation swim around Manhattan Island are three examples of the exploits of these Adventurers.

Record Holders are those swimmers who break records of acknowledged distances – or ages or time or disabilities. Penny Lee Dean of the USA and Trent Grimsey are two swimmers who set the bar by breaking the English Channel record. While there is always some luck in swimming in the right conditions (currents, wind, water temperature), there is no doubt that Record Holders – from marathon swims in lakes to channel crossings – are held in the highest esteem. Record Holders also include those who reset perspectives in other ways, including age like Pat Gallant-Charette and disabilities like Taranath Narayan Shenoy of India.

Endurers are similar to Adventurers/Pioneer and include those swimmers who swim the longest and farthest in terms of absolute distance and/or time. Few embody the spirit of Endurers like the members of the 24-hour Club including Sarah Thomas for her four-way English Channel crossing and long lake crossings, and Martin Strel for his river stage swims. What drives these individuals to push past all mental and physical barriers, while dealing with logistics and marine life, during these lengthy and difficult swims is the stuff of legends.

Supporters are selfless and dedicated individuals who enable to sport of marathon swimming to exist in its current state including escort pilots, navigators, kayakers, paddlers, coaches, handlers, sponsors, race directors and organizers, and governing body and association administrators. These people nearly always put in decades of their lives behind the sport and are swimmers or coaches themselves. Without them, the sport simply could not function safely or effectively. This year, there was a particular respect and appreciation for individuals like Julian Critchlow, Neville Smith, the staff of the Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli, Ronnie Wong Man Chiu.

Many swimmers fall in more than one category. They are, at various points in their careers, Champions, Adventurers, Record Holders, Endurers and Supporters. Whether they fall singularly in one category or are multi-dimensional and fall in two or more categories, these individuals are well-deservedly widely known and admired by the marathon swimming community.

There are currently 306 individuals and associations from 43 countries (Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Fiji, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia Swimming Federation, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Macedonia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, USA, and Yugoslavia) inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.

The Class of 2021 interviews were conducted by Ned Denison and posted on WOWSA Live:


Julian Critchlow (UK) Honor Administrator: see here


Sarah Thomas (USA) International Swimming Hall of Fame Poseidon Award recipient: see here


Colin Hill (UK) International Swimming Hall of Fame Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award recipient: see here


Neville Smith (South Africa) Honor Administrator: see here


Commander Charles Gerald Forsberg OBE, RN (Rtd.) (UK) Dale Petranech Award for Services to the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame recipient: see here


Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli (Italy) Honor Organization: see here


Gabriel Chaillou (Argentina) Honor Swimmer: see here


Ronnie Wong Man Chiu (Hong Kong) Honor Administrator: see here


* Yvetta Tulip Hlaváčová (Czech Republic) Honor Swimmer: see here


* Stéphane Gomez (France) Honor Swimmer: see here

* Viola Valli (Italy) Honor Swimmer: see here

The inductees in the Class of 2021 will be honored somewhere in an in-person ceremony and dinner during 2021. The location and date will be announced after the pandemic is sufficiently and safely managed.

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