ISHOF Recognizes Elaine K. Howley and Thomas Gompf with Buck Dawson Award

ISHOF Recognizes Elaine K. Howley and Thomas Gompf with Buck Dawson Award

Elaine K. Howley, an award-winning freelance journalist and editor based in Boston, Massachusetts, and Thomas Gompf, a 1964 Olympic bronze medalist and 2002 International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) Honoree, have been recognized for their outstanding contributions to the world of aquatics and literature. The duo has been awarded the prestigious Buck Dawson Author’s Award for their co-authored memoir, “A Life Aloft.”

Howley, a southern New Jersey native, is a distinguished writer specializing in sports, health, and history topics. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and a Master’s degree in Publishing and Writing from Emerson College in Boston. Her portfolio includes roles as Publications Manager for United States Masters Swimming and Managing Editor of SWIMMER Magazine. Her work is published on TIME, U.S. News & World Report,, Atlas Obscura, espnW, and Outdoor Swimmer magazine.

Beyond her journalistic pursuits, Howley is a lifelong swimmer and an avid marathon and ice swimmer. She has completed the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming and was the first person to swim the 32.3-mile length of Lake Pend Oreille in Northern Idaho. Her passion for swimming led to her induction into the Vermont Open Water Swimming Hall of Fame in 2018.

Thomas Gompf is a celebrated figure in the world of diving. He received a bronze medal in 10-meter platform diving at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. “Gompf also won the 1970 and 1971 World Professional High Diving Championship. After retiring from competition, he became the coach of the University of Miami diving teams from 1971 to 1982. He also served as a judge at the 1972 Olympics, manager of the USA Olympic diving team in 1976 and 1984, and was a diving official at the 1979 Pan-Am Games and the 1988 Olympics. In 1980, Gompf was a founding member of USA Diving. He later promoted synchronized diving and is considered the father of those events. Gompf was elected into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2010, the US Olympic Committee awarded him the George M. Steinbrenner III Sport Leadership Award, which honors “an outstanding member of the Olympic family.” Source

“A Life Aloft” is a memoir that weaves together the unique experiences of Gompf’s life as a world-class diver and a commercial pilot. The book reflects on his experiences as a wartime and commercial pilot, his life as a world-class diver, and his lifelong championing of the sport.

The Buck Dawson Author’s Award, named after WWII veteran Buck Dawson, who served as assistant and publicist for Generals Gavin and Ridgeway in the 82nd Airborne, is presented annually by the ISHOF to individuals for outstanding contributions to aquatics. Dawson was chosen to lead ISHOF in 1962 and served until his death in 2008. He was a prolific writer, authoring hundreds of articles and eight books on subjects ranging from bathing beauties to war, but especially swimming.

A Life Aloft by Thomas Gompf and Elaine K. Howley

Being airborne, aloft, free of the bonds of gravity—that, for Thomas Gompf, is the stuff of life.
When he first learned to fly an airplane, he found himself applying terms from his beloved sport of diving to the maneuvers he was mastering. The line blurred between the two disciplines, and he realized that being a pilot and being a diver have an awful lot in common.
As an Air Force officer in the Vietnam War, a commercial airline pilot for 30 years, and an Olympic medal-winning diver, Tom found ways for his body to soar. His work in support of Olympic divers and as the “father of synchronized diving” has left an enduring legacy that has inspired others to fly, too.
In A Life Aloft, Tom reflects on what he’s learned from pushing himself and the sport of diving to ever greater heights.

The ISHOF Specialty Awards are presented annually to individuals for outstanding contributions to aquatics. This year’s awards will be presented on Friday evening, September 29, 2023

Photo credit: MOWSA website