Georges Michel Honored by the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame

Georges Michel Honored by the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame

Ned Denison, chairperson of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, announced the induction of Georges Michel as an Honor Swimmer in the Class of 2022 of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.

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.

He was also a member of the International Professional Swimmers Association founded in 1927 in New York City.

Swimmer, coach, administrator, and promoter. Michel wore many hats – and all of them well, a well-deserved honor to be selected as a Honor Swimmer in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.

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Steven Munatones