Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.
The International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame attempts to recognize the efforts of the most accomplished swimmers who participate in competitive events and do solo swims.
In our opinion, there are four general types of great open water swimmers:
1. The Champions
2. The Adventurers
3. The Record Holders
4. The Endurers
Each of these types of swimmers have significantly added to the annals of open water swimming history.
The Champions are those swimmers who are fastest in head-to-head competitions against other great open water swimmers. Abdel Latif Abou-Heif of Egypt in the 1950s, John Kinsella of Indiana in the 1970s, Paul Asmuth of Mission Viejo in the 1980s and, most recently, Maarten van der Weijden of the Netherlands, are examples of these Champions.
The Adventurers are those swimmers who have done unprecedented swims of historical proportions. Lynne Cox’s famous swim across the Bering Straits or Stewart Evans’ unprecedented swim from the Farallon Islands to the California mainland are just two examples of the exploits of these Adventurers.
The Record Holders are those swimmers who break records of acknowledged distances. Penny Lee Dean of California and Petar Stoychev of Bulgaria are two accomplished swimmers who set the bar by breaking the English Channel record. While there is always some luck in swimming in the right conditions (currents, wind, water temperature), there is no doubt that these Record Holders are to be held in the highest esteem.
The Endurers are similar to The Adventurers and include those swimmers who chose to swim the longest and furthest in terms of absolute distance and/or time. These swimmers include people like Diana Nyad of the U.S. who attempted to swim from Cuba to Florida in 1978 (in 41 hours 47 minutes), Suzie Maroney of Australia who did swim from Cuba to Florida in 24 hours 30 minutes or David Meca who took over 24 hours to swim from Spain to Ibiza, an island in the Mediterranean Sea. What drives these individuals to push past all mental and physical barriers during these lengthy and difficult swims is the stuff of legends.
Contributors to the sport can be involved in any of the swimmers described above. Escort pilots who guide the swimmers; coaches who train the swimmers; writers who describe the swimmers; filmmakers who document the swims; organizers who promote and direct swims; administrators who govern the sport.
Champions, Adventurers, Record Holders, Endurers - and Contributors who support them: they are all worthy of the ultimate admiration in the world of open water swimming and induction into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.
Copyright © 2008 by World Open Water Swimming Association