Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Honoring The Best Of The Best

Among the honorees at this year's International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, Petar Stoychev has won nine consecutive FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix titles, including over 50 victories in individual professional marathon swims, and hold the English Channel record of 6 hours and 57 minutes.

He was the flag bearer for the Bulgarian Olympic Team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics where he swam the 1500 freestyle and got sixth in the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim.

Petar said, "It was a great honor for me to be inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. My motto has always been: 'Better today than yesterday, better tomorrow than today.'"

The winner of the Irving Davids/Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award was Mike Read.

Michael was King of the Channel® between 1979 –2000 when he was the most prolific English Channel swimmer with 31 crossings. He was the first person to make six successful crossings in one season, has swim over 110 open water swims over 16 kilometers, including many unprecedented swims, and served as the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Channel Swimming Association for 30 years.

Michael said, "All things considered, the sport has been very good to me. I still enjoy international competition and it is a real pleasure to put things back into it, to be able to encourage and help others achieve their dreams and ensure that things run as smoothly as they possibly can. The satisfaction comes from knowing that we were able to play our play in helping swimmers achieve their dreams. I often think back to my own pioneering days when dedicated people did so much to enable me to do a swim. I claimed the success but it was really that small team of 3-4 dedicated supporters who actually did the hard work and made it all possible. It is probably that awareness which drives me on even today."

Maria Luisa CabaƱeros Sanchez de Leon of Spain set three Strait of Gibraltar records from Spain to Africa, from Africa to Spain and a double-crossing.

She competed in professional marathon swims in Italy, Argentina, Canada, USA, Macedonia, Brazil and Mexico.

Frank Pritchard was selected as the Honor Pioneer Swimmer for his marathon swimming career between 1927 and 1938. Frank participated between 1930 and 1937 in the Canadian National Exhibition swims in Toronto, Canada. In 1931, he finished fourth. In 1933, he finished third. In 1934 and 1935, he finished second. In 1936, he won. In 1937, he defended his title and his race record that lasted more than 10 years.

After finishing fourth in the 1928 USA Olympic Trials in the 1500 freestyle, Frank raced and beat many of the best marathon swimmers of his era and competed and also won was the 1934 Hearst 15-mile Swim in Lake Michigan in Chicago, the 1934 and 1935 Blue Water Carnival 12-mile Swims from Sarnia, Ontario to St. Clair, Michigan.

He was represented by his son and grandson (shown above).

Skip Storch has several ultra-marathon swims under his belt.

He was nominated for ESPN’s ESPY's Award for Best Outdoor Athlete for his 85.5-mile swim of 32 hours and 52 minute - a triple circumnavigation swim around Manhattan Island in 2007. In 1988, he swam 150 miles in 53 hours (staged) down the Hudson River from Albany to Manhattan Island. The following two years, Skip swam 85 miles of the New Jersey Shore and 100 miles of the Long Island Sound as both staged/assisted swim to promote clean waters.

Skip said, "After exploring this most incredible Hall of Fame, I recognized many people that I am familiar with. Over the years I studied their life’s challenges, training methods, scientific data, conquests and shortcomings. Their feats, knowledge, journeys, and records have spoken to me throughout my life. They inspired me as my trusted spiritual guides on my journey. I truly feel at home with my old friends and will one day rest with the greatest of company."

Photos of the ceremonies provided by Skip Storch.