January 9th, An End Of An Era

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Bob Duenkel is retiring from the International Swimming Hall of Fame as its Executive Director and Curator after 40 years of service in various aspects of the aquatic world.

Whether it was coaching athletes in the pool or the open water, playing water polo, honoring synchronized swimmers and divers, or serving the open water swimming community through the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, Duenkel has provided a lifetime of selfless, unforgettable service.

The International Swimming Hall of Fame summarized Duenkel’s body of work in its newsletter:

“Bob Duenkel is as much a part of the Hall of Fame as any Honoree or any display. He started at the Hall of Fame in 1977 as staff member and leaves us as the Executive Director and Curator.

Bob has had a love of swimming for most of his life. He began swimming for the YMCA of New Jersey, went on to swim through high school where in 1960, he was a state record holder, a New Jersey AAU junior champion, and a New Jersey AAU senior champion. He attended Kansas State University where he was a many-time record holder and multi-award winner in swimming and played on the first-ever Kansas State water polo team.

After graduating from Kansas State with a Bachelor of Science and a Masters in Physical Education, Bob moved to South Florida, where he got his State of Florida Teachers Certificate. He taught at Northeast High School as a physical education teacher, worked as a water safety instructor and worked for the Fort Lauderdale Beach Patrol, all before joining the International Swimming Hall of Fame full time in 1976.

In addition to working at ISHOF, Bob swam Masters, where he was a Florida State champion, as well as an AAU All-American. In 1976, he also began coaching swimming at Broward Community College and in 1978 was named National Junior College Swimming Coach of the Year. In 1976, he took over the running of Camp Chikopi, a boys Sports and Wilderness Camp in Ontario, Canada, the world’s first swimming camps founded by U.S. Olympic Swim Coach Matt Mann II. Bob and his wife Colette still own and run Camp Chikopi today.

In 1988, the USA won the FINA Long Distance Cup Championships, coached by Bob Duenkel. In 1997, he was named in Aquatic’s Magazine’s Who’s Who in Aquatics. In 1997, Bob received the Glen S. Hummer Award, given by USA Swimming to the person or group making the greatest contribution to long distance swimming. In 1998, he was elected Treasurer of the International Association of Sports Museums and Halls of Fames. And in 1999, he was inducted into the Orange, New Jersey Athletics Hall of Fame.

Bob is like a walking encyclopedia of swimming history and facts. He knows everyone, every swimmer, ever Olympiad, every event, every time and every stroke. The Hall of Fame will never be the same without Bob Duenkel. Bob Duenkel will retire on January 9th 2016. His retirement ends an era at the International Swimming Hall of Fame. No one will ever be able to replace Robert T. Duenkel

Duenkel’s retirement celebration will be held this Saturday, January 9th at International Swimming Hall of Fame at 6:30 pm.

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