Marathon Hall Of Famers Leave A Fantastic Legacy

Marathon Hall Of Famers Leave A Fantastic Legacy

In arguably the most diverse class of inductees in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, the mix of men and women, competitive professional swimmers and solo swimmers, administrators and escort pilots, pioneers and disabled athletes was extraordinarily impressive.

Australian Penny Palfrey, still sporting visible Portuguese Man-o-War stings on her arms and legs as a result of a recent swim, yet stunningly radiant in gorgeous formal attire, summed up the feelings of the luminaries honored today, “[The recognition] is really humbling. I am very proud, but I am nervous.”

The still-active Penny was balanced by one of her fellow inductees who was awarded posthumously, William ‘Bill’ Sadlo, Jr. of the USA. Bill competed in over 30 marathon swims between 1927 and 1957. An early pioneer of marathon swimming, Bill was the vice president of the International Professional Swimmers Association and was one of the best marathon swimmers of his era.

While Bill was an early administrator and promoter of the sport while actively participating as an athlete, his modern-day contemporary was Australian Christopher Guesdon who received the 2010 Irving Davids / Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award.

Chris, the man credited with creating the modern format of the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim, did so much for the sport that the number of countries he visited to promote or officiate in runs in the dozens and the number of athletes he oversaw runs into the thousands.

Like Bill 8 decades before him, Chris has been instrumental in the sport as a race organizer, behind-the-scenes administrator, race official who has sat in boats and written manuals, support crew, lobbyist, historian and documentator.

His reach has truly been global with race experiences throughout Oceania, Asia, Africa the Americas and Europe. The success of the current professional marathon world has a solid foundation to continue growth, thanks to the largely unseen, but greatly appreciated, efforts of Chris.

While Chris has stepped back and mentored others to carry forth his mantle, Angela Maurer of Germany is proving that motherhood and a body in its fourth decade can still be trained and pushed to compete at the highest echelons of the sport. After finishing a very close fourth at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the 10K swim, Angela won the closely-contested 25K marathon swim at the 2009 World Swimming Championships at the age of 34.

Fighting off competitors sometimes half her age after swimming shoulder-by-shoulder, Angela continues to battle waves, winds and currents while smiling both before and after her races.

While Angela remains a visible force on the professional marathon swimming circuit, the incredible James Pittar of Australia remains active as a blind soloist. Since the age of 16, James has a track record of success in Australia, the English Channel, Manhattan Island, Strait of Gilbratar, San Francisco Bay, Argentina, Italy, South Africa, Turkey, Catalina Channel, Thailand, Alaska and Ireland with plans to continue his marathon career.

Instead of dwelling on his disability, James unselfishly remains the ambassador for the Rainbow Club of Australia that raises funds to provide funds for children with disabilities. His example of helping others and pushing himself as a world-class marathoner is a shining example of greatness that is so exemplary of the 2010 inductees.

Russians Yuri Kudinov and Aleksey Akatyev (shown on left) were rightly honored for their successes as professional marathon swims, being the respective leaders of their powerful Russian marathon teams. Both talented pool swimmers, they substituted lane lanes for escort boats and chlorine with currents.

Aleksey, who competed in the 1996 Olympics in the 400- and 1500-meter freestyles, found his calling in the open water where he won the 5K and 25K racees at the 1998 World Swimming Championships.

One of Aleksey’s legacies will certainly be the open water swimming school that he established in Russia. At the 2000 World Open Water Swimming Championships in Honolulu, Aleksey served in the dual roles of coach and swimmer. The ability to balance both roles was shown in the 25K race where he coached Yuri to a gold medal and won the bronze medal himself, only a minute behind the swimmer he was coaching.

Yuri learned well from Aleksey. After winning the 25K at the 2000 World Open Water Swimming Championships, he won the 25K at the 2001 World Championships, the 2002 World Open Water Swimming Championships, the 2003 World Championships and the 2007 World Championships with silver-medal performances in 2004 and 2006, and a bronze at the 2008 World Championships.

Yuri’s record of success was demonstrated in all kinds of conditions: warm, cold, flat, rough, salt and fresh – a trait that was equally shown by his fellow inductees in 2010.

Like their fellow inductee, Kevin Murphy, this year’s honorees remain highly appreciative of the efforts of their support crew. “I am just the dumb swimmer. But the pilot looks after me and protects me. We cannot do what we do without the professionalism of our suppor teams,” explained Kevin.

In the annals of channel swimming, there is no family more intertwined in marathon swimming history than the Brickell’s. This year, Reg Brickell Jr. and Ray Brickell of Great Britain were inducted, following in the footsteps of their fellow honoree and father, Reg Brickell Sr.

Both brothers started escorting swimmers at the early age of 16, learning the science and art of channel escorting from their father. Now, with the exploding demand for experienced channel pilots, the brothers take 20 swimmers each summer season across the English Channel.

With an uncanny knack for picking the right day and time to start a swim based on the individual’s strengths and weaknesses, the brothers remain highly sought-after pilots.

A celebration of greatness. A day of triumph based on a lifetime of success. These individual truly deserve their induction into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.

The night before, Paul Asmuth and Kevin Murphy, two additional superstars of the sport, were inducted in the International Swimming Hall of Fame. A fantastic photo gallery of the induction ceremony, produced by Jarret Streiner, is here.

Copyright © 2010 by Open Water Source
Steven Munatones