Ralph Willard, IMSHOF Honor Swimmer

Ralph Willard, IMSHOF Honor Swimmer

Ralph Willard was an American open water swimmer from Pecks-kill, New York who is an Honor Swimmer in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (Class of 1981).

In his career, he competed in 37 km Le Marathon du Saguenay in 1964, 1964, 1966, and 1967, the 1954 Atlantic City Centennial Swim, the 24 km Lac Simone professional marathon swim, the 1970, America’s Marathon Swim, often 1, 2, or 3 decades older than his competitors.

Many years ago, Dale Petranech passed on a treasure trove of old hardcover books – some written by a dual inductees in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame like Commander Charles Gerald Forsberg, OBE, RN and Johnny Weissmuller and many photographs from the professional marathon swimming races and other solo marathon swimmers in the 1950’s and 1960’s, including Willard [shown above].

Some of the photographs and background information were compiled by Joe Grossman (1925-1974), a promoter and administrator/secretary of the World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation and the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. Grossman was inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 1979 as an Honor Administrator and honored with the inaugural 1970 Irving Davids / Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award for Meritorious Service to Long Distance Swimming.

Grossman wrote the initial draft of the book A History of Marathon Swimming that was eventually written and published in 2018 by Steve Walker. The book was nominated for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

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Steven Munatones