IMSHOF 2024 Inductions & Awards Weekend: Celebrating Excellence in Marathon Swimming

IMSHOF 2024 Inductions & Awards Weekend: Celebrating Excellence in Marathon Swimming

The Class of 2024 Inductions & Awards Weekend took place in Cancun, Mexico, from May 17-19, with the main dinner held on the 18th. The International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (IMSHOF) celebrates the achievements and contributions of those who have excelled in the sport of international marathon swimming. The event began on Friday, May 17, with early arrivals and casual dinners. Saturday’s activities included 1.9 km and 3.8 km swims, a swim discussion open to the public, a Congress for ceremony attendees, the Induction & Awards Dinner, and after-dinner drinks. Sunday concluded the weekend with a 10 km swim.

IMSHOF is managed by an Executive Committee comprising members who have made significant contributions to the sport. Current members include Ned Denison, Honor Administrator from Ireland, serving as Chair since 2018; Beth Yudovin from the USA, responsible for Finance and ISHOF liaison; Richard Broer from the Netherlands, responsible for the Ceremony booklet and Chair of the Technical Open Water Committee of the Royal Netherlands Swimming Association; Madhu Nagaraja, from Canada responsible for Technology Operations and Social Media, also a marathon swimmer and historian; and Nora Toledano Cadena from Mexico, managing Nominations and Selections, and an accomplished marathon swimmer and coach.

Class of 2024

Leonie Beck, Honor Swimmer, Germany

Over her 11-year career on the World Aquatics circuit—formerly known as FINA—Leonie has participated in competitions across 13 countries, achieving podium finishes in 40% of her 25 elite races. Her accomplishments include three major victories: the 2023 World Aquatics 10 km World Championship, the 2020 FINA Marathon Swim World Series Cup, and the 2023 World Aquatics Open Water Swimming World Cup. Leonie’s notable victories in the 10 km World Aquatics/FINA World Cup occurred in Italy and Egypt in 2023, Abu Dhabi in 2021, and Doha in 2020. She also earned a 5th place finish at the 2021 Olympics and a silver medal at the 2022 FINA World Championships. Her other accolades include silver medals in Doha and China in 2018 and bronze medals in Israel in 2022 and Hungary in 2019. In the 5 km events at the World Aquatics/FINA World Championships, she clinched gold in 2023 and bronze in 2019, in addition to winning team gold over 4 x 1.5 km. Furthermore, Leonie has excelled in 10 km LEN competitions, winning the 2022 Championships, as well as earlier events in Denmark and Spain in 2017, and in Italy in 2022.

Arianna Bridi, Honor Swimmer, Italy

Arianna Bridi won the 2017 FINA 10 km Marathon Swimming World Cup and set the overall speed record at the Capri-Naples race in 2020, finishing in 6 hours, 4 minutes, and 26 seconds. This record, held at the end of 2023, marked the first time a female swimmer held the overall speed record. Bridi also earned a bronze medal in the 25 km event at the 2017 FINA World Championships. Her victories in the FINA World Cup 10 km races include: China (Lake Qiandao) and Seychelles in 2019; Seychelles and Abu Dhabi in 2018; Argentina (Viedma), Canada (Lac St Jean), and Hong Kong in 2017; and Canada (Lac Mégantic) in 2016. Over her career, Bridi achieved a podium finish in 67% of her 30 FINA level races across 17 countries by the end of 2023. She also won the LEN 25 km Championship in 2018, the LEN Cup in 2016, and the 10 km event at the Summer Universiade in 2015.

Allan Do Carmo, Honor Swimmer, Brazil

Allan do Carmo won a major title at the 2014 FINA Marathon Swimming World Cup Series. His competitive swimming career spanned from 2006 to 2022, during which he participated in 81 races across 21 countries. Allan consistently ranked in the FINA top 10 from 2009 to 2017, achieving podium finishes in 30% of his races. He competed in the Beijing 2008 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Allan’s 10 km FINA World Cup victories include two wins in Chun’An, China (2014 and 2015), and one in Lac Mégantic, Canada in 2014. His other notable podium finishes were in France, Stantou China, and Bulgaria in 2009; Brazil in 2010; Stantou China in 2013 and 2014; Portugal and Hong Kong in 2014; Argentina in 2015; and Hong Kong again in 2017. In the FINA 25 km World Championships, he placed 5th in 2013 and 6th in 2011. Allan was recognized as the Best Open Water Swimmer of the Year by FINA in 2014.

Sam Greetham, Honor Administrator, Great Britain

Sam Greetham served as a technical member of the FINA Technical Open Water Committee (TOWSC) from 2009 to 2022 and was the Committee Secretary from 2019 to 2022. In 2008, as Team Manager for Great Britain, he led the team to win three of the six available medals. Greetham was the Chief Referee for Open Water at the 2012 Olympic Games and an organizer in 2016 and 2021. Additionally, he was a FINA School Lecturer within the FINA Technical Open Water Community from 2008 to 2023.

In Europe, Greetham held the position of Secretary of the Technical Open Water Committee of LEN from 2000 to 2023 and became Chairperson from 2018 to 2023. He attended events in over 20 countries for swimming-related business. For 40 years, Greetham has run his local swimming club and has represented the sporting community at global, European, national (Great Britain and England), regional, and local levels.

Ros Hardiman, Honor Swimmer, Great Britain

Ros Hardiman has completed several notable marathon swims. In 2009, she swam the 33 km English Channel in 20 hours and 17 minutes. In 2019, at age 67, she completed the 36.2 km Loch Ness swim in 20 hours and 10 minutes. Other achievements include swimming 16.9 km in Lake Windermere in 2007 in 7 hours and 30 minutes, and a 2-way 11.3 km swim from Southsea War Memorial to Ryde Isle of Wight and back in 1984 in 6 hours and 27 minutes.

Hardiman, who contracted poliomyelitis at age six in 1958, has no use of her legs and lower back in the water, relying entirely on her arms for propulsion. Growing up during a time when disabilities were often hidden, she faced significant challenges. Although she won several prizes in her first swimming club in 1965, her parents did not feel she “fitted in,” preventing further participation. In 1980, three local swimming clubs refused her membership due to her physical disability. Hardiman found acceptance in Paralympic competitions in the 1990s, which boosted her confidence. She transitioned to open water swimming, competing in events ranging from 1 to 8 km, and became a regular at weekend training sessions on Dover Beach for several years.

Suzanne Heim-Bowen, Honor Swimmer, United States of America

Suzanne Heim-Bowen won the 1988 FINA Long Distance Swimming World Cup (amateur) at age 29. In the San Francisco Bay area, she was the first to complete several major swims: the 41 km from Richmond Bridge to San Mateo Bridge in 1984, the 33 km from Carquinez Bridge to Golden Gate in 1983, a 2-way 19.4 km from San Francisco Bay Bridge to Golden Gate in 1986, and the 16 km from Bay Bridge to Ocean Beach in 1982. Many of these swims have since become standard offerings for marathon swimmers.

In 2019, Suzanne set the female record for the longest period to achieve the Triple Crown at 34.1 years, which held until 2023. In 2021, at age 63, she set two overall marathon speed records: the 19.1 km Fastnet swim in 6 hours 9 minutes (female record held until 2023) and the 33 km Washington, D.C. Marathon in 7 hours 50 minutes, which still holds as of 2023. She swam the English Channel three times, each under 10 hours and 26 minutes, and held the 4th fastest female time from France to England from her 1985 swim.

Suzanne is an inductee in the Masters International Swimming Hall of Fame (MISHOF 2007) and holds numerous pool World Masters records. She has also worked for over 45 years as an educational psychologist and special education teacher, supporting individuals with significant physical and special needs.

Pauline Jackson, Honor Administrator, United States of America

Pauline Jackson, a pioneering Black swimmer, broke barriers in elite marathon swimming. A New Yorker, she was likely inspired by IMSHOF Honoree Ida Elionsky’s 1916 swim around Manhattan and IMSHOF Honoree Gertrude Ederle’s 1926 English Channel swim. In 1926, at age 35, Jackson won her first open water swim and aimed to swim the English Channel, with the Black press supporting her mission to promote racial equality.

In 1927, Jackson was accepted into the first Wrigley Ocean Marathon across the Catalina Channel, a significant event in New York and Los Angeles. However, she could not raise the funds for travel, lodging, and a trainer/tracking boat. Additionally, she faced racial barriers, as segregation and Jim Crow laws made travel and accommodation extremely difficult for Blacks, especially women. Despite her absence from the Catalina swim, Black sportswriters continued to praise her as the “champion Black woman swimmer.”

Jackson competed in the Wrigley Marathon Swims at the Canadian National Exhibition in 1927, 1928, and 1931. She was the only Black participant in the 1927 and 1928 marathons and the only Black woman in the 1931 swim. In the 1927 33.8 km event, she lasted 6 hours and covered 17.7 km in 9°C waters, outperforming many, including favorite IMSHOF Honoree George Young. This achievement was major news. In 1928, she completed 12.1 km of the 16.1 km race, and in 1931, she swam 14.5 km of the 16.1 km race before being pulled due to cramps.

Lynton Mortensen, Honor Swimmer, Australia

Lynton Mortensen is a renowned Australian open water swimmer, recognized as the first Australian and 12th person globally to complete the Oceans Seven. He also achieved the Triple Crown within three months and was the first to circumnavigate Lord Howe Island (30 km) and to complete both the Australian Triple Crown and the Australian Grand Slam.

Mortensen set two significant records: the quickest completion of the Oceans Seven within two years and two months in 2019, a record that held until 2023, and the shortest time (17 days) between the English and North Channel swims in 2017, a record that still stands as of 2023. His Oceans Seven times were: English Channel in 12 hours and 35 minutes, North Channel in 13 hours and 49 minutes, Strait of Gibraltar in 5 hours and 12 minutes, Catalina Channel in 13 hours and 59 minutes, Cook Strait in 14 hours and 14 minutes, Molokai Channel in 14 hours and 49 minutes, and Tsugaru Channel in 9 hours and 34 minutes.

Additionally, Mortensen completed numerous other marathon swims around the world, including the Jersey Island circumnavigation, 20 Bridges, Derwent River, La Bocaina Strait, Kaulakahi Channel, Au’au Channel, Bonifacio Strait, Port to Pub, Palm Beach to Shelly Beach, Rottnest Channel, and Around Keppel Island.

Throughout his swims, Mortensen raised nearly $60,000 for the Children’s Hospital and $10,000 for scientific research into the ocean plastic crisis.

Courtney Moates Paulk, Honor Swimmer, United States of America

Courtney Moates Paulk is the first person to complete two-way swims of each of the Triple Crown swims, with a combined total time of 81 hours and 5 minutes. She was also the first to complete the Triple Crown four times, which includes swimming the English Channel six times, and the Catalina Channel and Manhattan Island four times each. In 2017, she set the record as the oldest female to complete a two-way Catalina Channel swim, a record that still stands as of 2023.

Paulk has completed numerous other solo marathon swims, including the length of Lake Geneva, the DC Marathon Swim, Cape Cod Bay, the Boston Light Swim several times, Ederle Burke, Infinityman, and many SCAR swims. She has completed three swims over 24 hours, including two over 30 hours. Additionally, she pioneered two new swim routes near her home in Virginia: across the Chesapeake Bay and the length of Lake Gaston.

In recognition of her achievements, Paulk received the Gertrude Ederle award from the CS&PF for the most meritorious swim by a woman in 2021 for her two-way English Channel swim. She previously served as president of Swim Free, Inc., the preferred charity of NYC Swim, and raised over $75,000 between 2011 and 2017 in connection with her swims.

Dr. Evgenij Pop Acev, Honor Swimmer, Macedonia

Dr. Evgenij Pop Acev has an illustrious open water swimming career, winning three major titles: the 2015 and 2017 FINA Grand Prix Series (tied) and the 2019 FINA UltraMarathon Swim Series. He consistently reached the podium in these series competitions for nine consecutive years.

His marathon career spanned from 2007 to 2021, during which he competed in 106 world-class events across 21 countries. Evgenij secured marathon victories in six countries, including the 2016 Capri-Naples 36 km, 2015 Ohrid 33 km, 2005 Sabac 19 km, 2019 Veles 10 km, 2010 Bachko Gradiste 10 km, and 2012 Rovinj 5 km. His other notable podium finishes include the 2018 Santa Fe-Coronda 57 km, 2017 Lac St. Jean 32 km, and 2014 Lac Magog 34 km.

Simone Ruffini, Honor Swimmer, Italy

Simone Ruffini has had a distinguished open water swimming career, winning three major titles: the 2015 25km World Championship and the FINA 10km World Cup in 2016 and 2017. He competed from 2009 to 2022 across 17 countries, standing on the podium 18 times in 57 races (32%), with nine wins.

His 10km FINA World Cup victories include: 2018 in Seychelles, 2017 in Lac St Jean, 2016 in Hungary, Hong Kong, and China, 2015 in Argentina, and 2013 in México. Ruffini also participated in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. At longer distances, he finished 4th in the 25km World Championships in 2017 and 2019 after his victory in 2015 and placed 3rd in Capri-Naples 36km in 2021 and 2022.

In addition to these achievements, Ruffini won the 10km Summer Universiade in 2011. He was also part of the Italian National team that won gold in the Team Event at the European Championship in Hungary in 2010 and in the Netherlands in 2016.

Dan Simonelli, Honor Coach, United States of America

Dan Simonelli has been a most active coach, crew, and observer for marathon swimming in Southern California since 2011. He supported over 300 Catalina and Santa Barbara Channel swims, as well as other marathon swims. Simonelli coached and crewed swimmers in six countries across various distances: over 100 swims at 10 km, over 100 at 10 miles, and more than 65 at 25 km.

Several IMSHOF Honorees swam Catalina with Simonelli, including Kimberley Chambers in 2013, Attila Mányoki in 2015, Antonio Argüelles Díaz-González in 2017 (both single and 2-way), and Chloë McCardel and Jaime Lomelín Gavaldón in 2019. He also crewed for Chloë McCardel’s English Channel swim in 2016 and Antonio Argüelles Díaz-González’s Around Manhattan (second lap) in 2022.

Simonelli coached and coordinated relays for teenagers with disabilities for swims across the Catalina, English Channel, Molokai, Italy, and Santa Barbara Channel from 2015 to 2020. As an administrator, he founded the Open Water Swim Academy (2012-2023 and beyond), Around~Coronado Swim (18.6 km) from 2020-2023 and beyond, and the Open Water Swim Support Training (2019-2023 and beyond). He served as the President of the La Jolla Cove Swim Club (2012-2023) and contributed to the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation.

As Swim Across America Event Director for Catalina and English Channel relays, Simonelli helped raise over $200,000 for charity, including the Catalina Channel David Yudovin (IMSHOF Honoree) Memorial Relay. An accomplished marathon swimmer himself, Simonelli has completed 14 swims, including the English Channel, Catalina Channel, and S.C.A.R. He received the Carnegie Medal Hero Award in 2019.

Catherine Vogt Kase, Honor Coach, United States of America

Catherine Vogt Kase has had an impactful coaching career in open water swimming. She has coached in 16 countries, serving as the USA’s Head Coach for four FINA World Championships (2009, 2013, 2015, and 2019) and as the Head Coach for three Olympic Open Water teams (2012 for Tunisia, 2016 and 2021 for the USA). Additionally, she was an Assistant Coach for the USA at the World Championships in 2005, 2006, and 2008.

Under her guidance, her swimmers achieved remarkable results in the Olympic 10K event: gold and silver in 2012, two 5th place finishes in 2016, and 6th, 7th, and 10th place finishes in Tokyo in 2021. The USA won the overall team title at the 2015 World Championships and consistently finished in the top four in the overall medal count from 2009 to 2019. Catherine also led the USA team as Head Open Water Coach at the 2006 and 2014 Pan-Pacific Open Water Championships and the Pan-American Games in 2007 and 2011.

Catherine was a member of the World Aquatics Coaches Committee from 2017 to 2023 and served as the Chair of USA Swimming’s Open Water Steering Sub-Committee from 2016 to 2021, being the first woman to hold this position. She received the 2020 USA Swimming’s Women in Swimming Award, recognizing her contributions to the sport.

Melissa Cunningham Roberts, Honor Swimmer, Australia, 2013 – The Dale Petranech Award
for Services to the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame

Honoree Melissa Cunningham Roberts of Australia has been selected as the eighth recipient of the Dale Petranech Award for Services to the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (IMSHOF).

In 2017, Melissa joined the Executive Committee of IMSHOF, bringing a fresh perspective with her background as a successful businesswoman, 25 km FINA World Champion, FINA committee representative, and swim federation organizer. She significantly contributed to better gender balance, served as Election Chair, and improved ceremony videos, dramatically enhancing IMSHOF’s professionalism. In 2019, she organized the first-ever IMSHOF Induction and Awards Ceremony in the Asia Pacific, held in Melbourne, which was a great success and furthered IMSHOF’s mission to be a truly international organization.

As a committee member, Melissa consistently examined issues from all angles and frequently made comments or asked questions that prompted the Executive Committee to rethink proposals. Her commitment and dedication have significantly strengthened IMSHOF.

The Dale Petranech Award was created in 2016 to honor Dale Petranech for his decades of service to IMSHOF. Petranech, a dual inductee in both the IMSHOF and the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Contributor, previously held the record as the oldest solo swimmer across the Catalina Channel in California and served for nearly 50 years in various capacities at all levels of the sport.

Massimo Giuliani, Honor Coach, Italy, 2020 – The International Swimming Hall of Fame’s
(ISHOF) Irving Davids and Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award

Massimo Giuliani, an Italian open water swimming administrator, is this year’s recipient. After a successful coaching career, including leading the 1994 FINA World Champion Team, Massimo transitioned to administration, serving as the Open Water Team Manager for Italy from 1995 to 2020. Under his leadership, Italy achieved top-three status in international programs, winning the overall points competition in five different years. His tenure saw Italy secure 17 gold, 17 silver, and 19 bronze medals at major international 10 km and 25 km events.

From 2019 to 2022, Massimo served as the Technical Open Water Swim Committee Secretary for LEN (European Swimming). He was the President of the Organizing Committee for the 2012 European Open Water Championships and the 2016 Junior Open Water European Championships, and he was the Competition Manager at the European Open Water Swimming Championships in Rome in 2022.

Massimo began his coaching career in 1985 as one of the youngest qualified swimming coaches in Italy and was the Italian 25 km Team Coach for the 1994 FINA World Championship Team. He was inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Coach in 2020.

Penny Lee Dean, EdD, Honor Swimmer, United States of America, 1980 – The International
Swimming Hall of Fame’s (ISHOF) Poseidon Award

The Poseidon Award is presented annually by the International Swimming Hall of Fame to an organization or individual for high-level achievement through personal effort or initiative, contributing to the performance of marathon swimmers or the development and status of Marathon Swimming worldwide.

This year’s award honors Penny Lee Dean, EdD. Penny achieved high-level success as a marathon swimmer, winning the 1979 World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation and other prestigious races. She set two overall speed records for the Catalina Channel, which still stand more than 40 years later, and set the overall English Channel speed record, which stood for 16 years, and the female record, which stood for 28 years.

Penny also excelled as an administrator. She founded the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation, served as its President for over 10 years, and has been a Historian and Board Member for more than 40 years. She was the meet director for the 1984 USA Long Distance International Championships across the Catalina Channel.

As a coach, Penny led the USA Swimming National Open Water Team for twelve years, winning every competition. She coached teams to the 1991 Pan Pacific Championships, the 1991 World Swimming Championships, the 1982, 1986, and 1990 Windermere Championships, the 1990 English Channel Race, and the 1984 and 1989 Catalina Channel Races.

Penny was inducted as an Honor Swimmer into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (IMSHOF) in 1980. The International Swimming Hall of Fame inducted her in 1996 and presented her with the Buck Dawson Authors Award in 1998.