She’s Back.  Penny Dean From 1976 To The Present

She’s Back. Penny Dean From 1976 To The Present

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

From upstate New York, Dr. Penny Dean quietly casts a large shadow in the world of marathon swimming.

Not only does she still hold the Catalina Channel overall one-way record of 7 hours 15 minutes after 41 years and now 450 crossing and was dominant on the world professional marathon swimming circuit for a few short years in the 1970s, but she also still holds the two-way crossing record in the Catalina Channel (20 hours 3 minutes) and remains one of the top ten English Channel swimmers of all time based on her 1978 crossing of 7 hours 40 minutes.

Dr. Dean also swam and studied at Pomona College as a scholar-athlete and later coached at Pomona Pitzer for 26 years while coaching the USA Swimming national open water swimming team from 1979 to 1991.

During her long tenure at the pinnacle of the sport, Dr. Dean also significantly influenced a number of athletes, coaches and administrators who remain involved in the sport. She also wrote several books including the authoritative History of the Catalina Channel Since 1927.

A contemporary of International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame honorary secretary Dale Petranech and former FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee chairman Sid Cassidy, Dr. Dean coached swimmers like Karen Reeder, a Catalina Channel record holder and top professional marathon swimmer in the 1990s, and Chad Hundeby, a world 25 km champion.

The retired coach has been raising her daughter in New York far away from the oceans and pools that dominated her youth and coaching career. But the marathon swimming bug got to her and she is now back in action. “I have coached a few people in the last few years here in New York. Currently, I am teaching a beginner swimmer, two triathletes and Emma Moudry for the Ederle Swim in October. It feels good to be back.”

Given her track record – from coaching athletes at the world championships, World Cups, English Channel and Catalina Channel to her illustrious marathon swimming career, Dr. Dean certainly has the right stuff. Kind yet demanding. Thoughtful yet intense, Dr. Dean knows how to bring the best out of an athlete day in and day out, but especially on race day.

With her return, the sport is riding yet another wave to the future.

Copyright © 2011 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones