Class of 2022 Inducted by the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in Naples, Italy

Class of 2022 Inducted by the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in Naples, Italy

Ned Denison and Luciano Cotena hosted the Class of 2022 International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Ceremony on May 7th in Naples, Italy. It was a sold-out ceremony with 150 honorees and their guests who enjoyed the festive dinner and followed up with swim races on May 8th.

The IMSHOF Class of 2022 included Georges Michel as an Honor Swimmer, the Serpentine Swimming Club as an Honor Organization, Evan Morrison as an Honor Administrator, Dr. Caroline Block as an Honor Swimmer, Beth Yudovin as an Honor Administrator, Rachele Bruni as an Honor Swimmer, Alick Wickham as an Honor Coach, Ferry Weertman as an Honor Swimmer [shown above], Sharon van Rowendaal as an Honor Swimmer [shown above], Elizabeth Fry as the Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award recipient, Shelley Taylor-Smith as the Poseidon Award recipient, and Steven Muñatones as the Dale Petranech Award for Services to the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame recipient.

Georges Michel

The Frenchman was the ninth swimmer in history to swim across the 33.5 km English Channel. In September 1926, he set a speed record in 11 hours 6 minutes from Cap Gris Nez, France to St. Margart’s Bay near Deal, England that lasted for 24 years.

His successful crossing did not come without significant effort and sacrifice: he previously failed nine times before setting the record that was 1 hour 38 minutes faster than the previous record of Ernest Vierkoetter. He was the first French swimmer to cross the English Channel and will be inducted in the IMSHOF Induction and Awards Ceremony in Naples, Italy on May 7th 2022.

The 36-year-old baker from Paris reportedly spent 15,000 French francs on his 10 English Channel attempts. He had previously won, in 1918, a 12 km and 42 km international marathon swims in the Seine River. During the 1928 Wrigley Marathon for the Swimming Championship of the World held in conjunction with the Canadian National Exhibition, Michel and none of the 199 starters completed the swim, but he swam the longest and furthest for 11 hours 12 minutes while covering just over 12 miles. Later that same year, Michel won the 39 mile race (and $500) across the St. Lawrence River from Montreal to Sorel.

Swimming was put on hiatus throughout the 1930’s, but after World War II, Michel actively continued in the world of professional marathon swimming. He was Roger Le Morvan‘s coach who finished second in the Daily Mail races across the English Channel twice in 1950 and 1951.

In July 1953, Michel contributed to the creation of the “French Group of Nageurs de Longue Distance” bringing together professional and amateurs marathoners of which he was the first president. The same year, on the eve of the Paris International Nautical Marathon, he was one of the drivers to establish the International Association of Long Distance Swimming, and was the first honorary co-president, alongside the Ishak Helmy, another International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Swimmer.

The swimmer, coach, administrator, and promoter was also a member of the International Professional Swimmers Association founded in 1927 in New York City.

Serpentine Swimming Club

The Serpentine Swimming Club is based in Hyde Park in center London and was founded in 1864. It is a haven for cold water enthusiasts and is also a major hub for marathon swimmers. The Club has a historic focus on the English Channel (to date, 80 members have completed 180 solo crossings).  Record setting members include the first female and male swimmers to complete triple crossings and swimmers with the most male crossings including Alison Streeter, MBE, Jon Erikson, and Kevin Murphy. Other Club members honored by the  IMSHOF include Nick Adams (Class of 2013), Rosemary George (Class of 2003), and Colin Hill (Class of 2017)Many other Club members have completed marathon swims around the world including Catalina Channel in California, Maui Channel in Hawaii, Robben Island in South Africa, Manhattan Island in New York, Strait of Gibraltar between Spain and Morocco, Lake Zurich in Switzerland, Lake Annecy in France, Cook Strait in New Zealand, Round Jersey in the Channel Islands, Jersey to France, Round Guernsey, Lake Geneva/Lac Leman in Switzerland/France, plus many crossings of the most famous fresh-water swims in the United Kingdom such as Loch Lomond, Loch Ness, and Lake Windermere.

Additionally and very importantly, Serpentine members have a long history of supporting and giving back to the swimming community. Members have long held officer and committee positions in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and in Honor Organizations inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, the British Long Distance Swimming Association, the Channel Swimming Association, and the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation.

In 2019; the club raised US$12;000 for one-to-one swimming lessons for children with physical and sensory disabilities.

Evan Morrison

Evan Morrison co-founded the Marathon Swimmers Federation, served as president of the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association, led several influential initiatives to promote common standards and unified historical records in solo marathon swimming, and co-starred in the documentary film DRIVEN.Evan created the LongSwims Database, which consolidated solo marathon swimming and race results in a publicly searchable website, cross-linked by swimmers and routes/events. He initiated and co-authored the MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, which articulated general solo swim rules for waters without a local governing association. He developed a multimedia observer report template that became a de facto standard for documenting self-organized solo marathon swims. He established MSF Documented Swims as a platform for peer review and ratification. And he built track.rs, a web app that enabled real-time, interactive tracking of solo swims and races.

In addition to serving the sport as an administrator and volunteer observer, the Princeton graduate is an accomplished and record setting marathon swimmer: across the Catalina Channel, Santa Barbara Channel, Maui Channel, Tampa Bay, Around Manhattan, and an unprecedented winter Round-Trip Angel Island swim in San Francisco. He set course records for Santa Cruz Island to the California mainland and from Sandy Hook in New Jersey to Manhattan Island in New York City.

He has also been honored by other open water swimming organizations including received the inaugural 2018 MSF Navigator Award for the same achievements as are recognized by the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame: for leading the Marathon Swimmers Federation and the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association, and developing the Marathon Swimmers Forum, the MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, MSF Documented Swims, track.rs, and LongSwimsDB.

He has been honored an unprecedented seven times by the World Open Water Swimming Association for the 2012 WOWSA Offering of the Year for the Marathon Swimmers Forum, the 2013 WOWSA Offering of the Year for DRIVEN, 2013 WOWSA Offering of the Year for the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association, 2014 WOWSA Offering of the Year for MSF Documented Swims, 2015 WOWSA Offering of the Year Nomination for MSF SwimTrack, 2017 WOWSA Offering of the Year for LongSwimsDB, and 2020 WOWSA Man of the Year awards.

Dr. Caroline Block

Dr. Caroline Block has completed world record swims, the longest distance, fastest, first ever, earliest and coldest marathons in lakes and oceans. Having earned the title of “Queen of the North Channel” with four successful crossings, more impressively she is also the only swimmer to twice attempted two-way swims. While not completing the second leg, in both cases her elapsed time in the water exceeded 25 hours.Caroline has also broken barriers in the Santa Barbara Channel: a 44.3 km Santa Rosa Island to Goleta swim and a 30.6 km Oxnard to Santa Cruz Island crossing, the first woman to complete these crossings. In fresh water, she is the only swimmer to have completed (or even attempted) a two-way Lake George swim. Her 103.6 km swim took more than 52 hours and set the world distance record for a multi-segment lake swim. 

As a deaf swimmer, she has often had to fight for access to the same basic information as other swimmers in group events – swim logistics, safety information, announcements, and last minute instructions – a struggle that has both tilted her swim resume toward varied long and difficult solo challenges, and inspired her to advocate for greater inclusion in the sport.

Beth Yudovin

Beth Yudovin has enjoyed two careers in the sport. For the first 25+ years, she served as her husband’s manager and crew chief. Beth and David Yudovin, a dual inductee in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and International Swimming Hall of Fame, traveled around the globe planning, plotting, organizing and accomplishing dozens of unprecedented solo marathon swims in Japan, Mexico, Indonesia, New Zealand, Azores, Portugal, California’s Channel Islands and in Africa including Cape Verde plus São Tomé and Príncipe. With Beth in the escort boat and David in the water, they also completed established marathon swims in Tahiti, Hawaii, across the English Channel and the Strait of Gibraltar.Beth’s second career involved serving on IMSHOF’s Executive Committee since 2014.  She chaired the Committee, hosted two Induction and Awards Ceremonies, and most recently managed its finances.

She received the Dale Petranech Award for Services to the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 2020 and represents one of the few husband-and-wife duos in the Hall of Fame.

Rachele Bruni

Olympic silver medalist Rachele Bruni has swum all over the world at several dozens professional marathon swims. She won 3 majors outright: the 2015 FINA 10 km Marathon Swimming World Cup, the 2016 FINA 10 km Marathon Swimming World Cup, and the 2019 FINA Marathon Swim World Series Cup.  At the Summer Olympics marathon swim, she won a silver medal in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach and placed 14th in 2021 in Tokyo Bay. At the FINA World Championships, she won a 10 km bronze medal and 5 km Mixed Team Event silver medal in 2019 and a 5 km Mixed Team Event bronze medal in 2017.

Her FINA World Cup victories include 2019 lac St-Jean (Canada), 2017 Setúbal Bay (Portugal) and Balatonfüred (Hungary), 2016 Hong Kong and Viedma (Argentina), 2015 Abu Dhabi (UAE), lac Mégantic (Canada), Setúbul Bay, and Viedma, and 2007 Cancún (Mexico). Overall throughout her 14-year career, Rachele has earned a podium position in 45% of her 48 FINA races in 23 countries. She also won the LEN 10 km Championship in 2016 and 5 km Mixed Team Event in 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2016 plus the 10 km Summer Universiade in 2011.

Alick Wickham

Alick Wickham of the Solomon Islands did a lot of things in the open water – from being the national 50-yard freestyle champion of Australia and setting a high diving world record that still stands at 205 feet. He also played a role in the development of body surfing, as he was one of a group of powerful swimmers who congregated around Manly Beach in Sydney and who were keen to foster skills and techniques in the early days of surfing.

He will be forever remembered as the person credited with being one of the first to demonstrate the ‘crawl stroke‘ to Australia. When Wickham was working in Sydney and was seen swimming in the sea-baths at Bronte Beach, swimming as did many people at that time throughout parts of the South Pacific.  George Farmer, a prominent Australian coach at the turn of the century, saw Wickham and gave his stroke the name that has survived to this day. Farmer said, “Look at that kid crawling” – as a result, the crawl stroke was first defined. Other local Australian swimmers adopted Wickham’s style and the freestyle stroke as we know it today was introduced to outside the South Pacific and limited other locations around the world – at a time when breaststroke was the dominant swimming style.

But it was not only his rotating overhead arm strokes that were unusual in Australia at the time, but also his flutter kick. Arthur Freeman witnessed his kick, “Wickham’s six-beat kick reminded me of an outboard motor.” Because Wickham swam head up (as do water polo players and bodysurfers taking off on a wave), a strong kick was important in order to swim fast.

Famed Australian coach Forbes Carlile described Wickham, “In 1898 this boy from the British Solomon Islands arrived in Sydney – Alick Wickham – whose brother Harry wrote me several letters in 1950 when I was investigating the beginnings of the crawl stroke. These letters explained that Alick came to Australia on his father’s trading schooner, when he was seven years old, and stayed in Sydney for his schooling. Alick was keen on swimming, he played around in the water continually, and in 1898 was entered in a 66 yards U10 handicap race in Australia’s oldest rock pool at Bronte, near Sydney.

It was here that Alick astonished onlookers with his speed and unusual stroke. Charlie Bell, who raced against him, told me that Wickham swam with his head held fairly high, turning it quickly from side to side breathing with each complete stroke, his wooly head apparently not getting wet. The entry of his arms was short and towards the centre line of the body with the elbows well bent. His arm action was very fast and short. Each arm performed a symmetrical action with the head turning from side to side as if breathing on each side, but only breathing on one side to each stroke.”

Wickham was the most influential coach who served as a catalyst for the sport to grow over the next 100+ years. Records for 10+ kilometer marathon swims start in about the mid-1800’s. It is well documented that swimmers from the First Nations in the Americas, Africans and Asiana Islanders excelled in the open water swimming long before the recorded start of our sport.

He was an all-around aquatic pioneer and carnival attraction. He set the unofficial world record for 50 yards freestyle in 1910 and was the inaugural Australasian dive champion in 1904, and from 1908–1912, the New South Wales state champion for both diving and swimming. He also set a world diving record, attracting 70,000 spectators in 1918, for a 62-meter swan dive into the Yarra River, Melbourne and is also credited in the development of body surfing.

Wickham is a dual inductee. He was inducted in the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Contributor in 1974 and is inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Coach in its Class of 2022.

Ferry Weertman

Ferry Weertman won 3 major championship racs: the 2016 Rio Olympics marathon swim, the 2017 FINA World Championship 10 km race, and the 2018 FINA World Series Cup. He was the first male winner of both the Olympics and the 10 km World Championships. Ferry also won two silver medals at the 2015 FINA World Championships in the 10 km and 5 km Mixed Team Event; and gold medals at the European Championships 10 km races in 2014, 2016 and 2018 and mixed team event in 2014 and 2018. He competed for 10 years at the world class (FINA) level: 29 events in 17 countries and 10 podiums (or 34% of all starts) all first or second.  He was named FINA Athlete of the Year in 2016 and 2018; Swimming World Magazine Open Water Swimmer of the Year in 2016 and 2017; and European Open Water Swimmer of the Year in 2015 and 2016.Ferry contributed to the sport as the Male Representative Open Water in the FINA Athletes Commission since 2017 and Ambassador of the Amsterdam City Swim, the biggest open water event of the Netherlands with 2,500 swimmers which raises over 1.5 million€ (US$1.8 million) every year for the Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS: muscle disease) charity. He was awarded the Netherlands award, Knight in the Order of Oranje-Nassau after his gold medal victory at the Rio Olympics.

He also excelled in the pool and was a finalist, finishing 8th at the FINA World Championships in the 4×200 freestyle relay in 2017 in Budapest and won a wide variety of races from the RCP Tiburon Mile in the cold waters of San Francisco Bay to the FINA/HOSA Marathon Swim World Series race in warm Qatar as well as the LEN Championship races.

Sharon van Rowendaal

Sharon van Rowendaal won the 2016 Rio Olympics marathon swim and is a three-time Olympian (several pool and two marathon swimming events). She is the only woman to win two Olympic medals in the 10 km marathon swim, a gold medal in Rio and a silver medal in Tokyo.She also won three silver medals in the FINA World Championship: 2017 at 25 km and 2015 at 10 km and 5 km.

She finished 20 professional marathon races in 17 countries over seven years, taking podium positions in 40% of the events.  She was named FINA Athlete of the Year in 2016 and FINA Female Open Water Swimmer of the Year in 2014, 2016 and 2018, and won the European Championship 10 km in 2014, 2018 and 2021.

In the pool, she won medals at the FINA World Championships: a 2015 silver medal behind Katie Ledecky in the 400m freestyle; a 2014 gold medal in the 4×200 relay in world record time, a silver medal in the 400m freestyle and bronze in the 400m and 800m freestyle; and 2011 bronze at the age of 17 in the 200m backstroke.  She also competed in the 100m and 200m backstroke at the 2012 London Olympics. Sharon was a seven-time European champion and a 12-time Dutch national record holder in the pool.

Elizabeth Fry

International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Swimmer Elizabeth Fry is a genuine heroine and leader in the open water. She is a mentor, an icon, a record-setter, an administrator with a can-do mindset and no-nonsense demeanor who received the 2022 Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award given by the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

She has served the sport for more than 30 years. She has also been the marathon director for 13 years of the 25 km St. Vincent’s Foundation Swim Across the Sound in Long Island which raises more than US$2 million each year. Prior to her leadership in 2007, the event raised approximately US$40,000 annually. She created a detailed safety plan that allows the event to host up to 65 escort boats and created separate team and two-person relay categories to expand fundraising and provide open water experience to local swimmers. Donations help cancer patients and their families.

In 2008, she expanded the fundraising to include multiple sclerosis (MS) with an event named the January Jam. The January Jam encourages participants from around the world to track their yardage for the entire month to see who can “jam” the most yards into 31 days.

She has completed the Oceans Seven; set the record for the oldest person to do a two-way English Channel crossing; and pioneered other first feats including a two-way Ederle Swim, a 56.3 km swim from Manhattan to Sandy Hook, New Jersey and a two-way S.C.A.R. Swim Challenge. She was inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Swimmer in 2014.

Shelley Taylor-Smith

Shelley Taylor-Smith is a record-setting swimmer, world champion, coach, administrator, volunteer, mentor and official who was one of the top elite swimmers of her generation – male or female. She won seven majors (marathon world championships), set world speed records around Manhattan Island and around the world, beat all the men in 9 professional marathon swimming races, and was victorious in 51 races at the national and international levels.

She held the position of the Honorary Secretary of the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee for many years with the responsibility of holding numerous FINA 10 km Marathon Swimming World Cup circuit races, the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix series, the FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships, and most importantly the 10 km Marathon Swim at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the 2012 London Olympic Games where she also served as a race official.

She has been an active coach since 2009; her swimmers have been successful in 9 solos and 2 relays across the 33.5 km English Channel and more than 700 solo swims and relays across the 19.75 km Rottnest Channel. She was also on the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Board of Directors from 2011 to 2014.

She was inducted as an Honor Swimmer in International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 1990. In 2008 she was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame and also received The Irving Davids/Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award.

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Steven Munatones