Thursday, March 16, 2017

AMERICA’S IAN CROCKER - GREAT RIVAL OF MICHAEL PHELPS ELECTED TO THE HALL OF FAME

FIRST STATE OF MAINE SWIMMER TO SWIM IN THE OLYMPICS - HELD 100M FLY WORLD RECORD FOR SIX YEARS


FORT LAUDERDALE - The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF)
Crocker in Omaha at Olympic
 Trials 2016 (credit Kurt Keeler)
announced that America’s Ian Crocker will join 16 others as honorees who will enter the International Swimming Hall of Fame as the Class of 2017. Crocker is the final name to be announced to the class that will be honored in ceremonies to be held August 25-27, in Fort Lauderdale. Previously, open water swimmer Maarten Van Der Weijden, swimmers Wu Chuanyu (CHN), Takeshi “Halo” Hirose (USA), Georges Vallerey, Jr. (FRA), Alain Bernard (FRA), Leisel Jones (AUS) and Laure Manaudou (FRA), divers Zhang Xiuwei (CHN) and Laura Wilkinson (USA), long distance swimmer Walter Poenisch (USA), water polo players Osvaldo Codaro (ARG), András Bodnár (HUN) and Bridgette Gusterson (AUS), synchronized swimmer Anastasia Davydova (RUS), coach Dick Jochums (USA) and photojournalist Heinz Kluetmeier (USA) have been announced.

Crocker, with music producer Jim Thompson
and Ryan Lochte (credit Jim Thompson)
Ian Lowell Crocker is one of the greatest butterfliers in history, but he didn't exactly grow up in a swimming hotbed. He was born August 31, 1982, in Portland, Maine, a state that has more than 35,000 square miles, yet not one Olympic-sized pool. The pool at the Portland elementary school where he somehow developed his Olympic aspirations was not much more than a 25 yards-long “hole in the ground.”  His parents recognized early on that their son suffered from a learning disorder and they felt it was necessary to have him involved in activities that would give him self-esteem outside of academics and keep him well rounded.  So Crocker jumped into to the pool, pursued playing the guitar and when he grew old enough to drive, developed an interest in cars. 

In 1997, he broke onto the national age group scene with a 13-14 US National record in the 200m freestyle. The next year he became the first U.S. 15-year old to break 1:50 for the 200m freestyle and finished fourth at the 1998 USA Swimming Summer Nationals.  The next year, at the same meet he finished 23rd in the 100m butterfly and people started telling him that if he wanted to be an Olympic swimmer, he'd have to leave the state and train in a bigger pool. But he had enormous talent, desire and was blessed with a coach, Sharon Power, who knew what she was doing.

As a 17-year old, Crocker had entered the 2000 US Olympic Trials with a view to gain experi-ence for 2004, but he left the meet winning the 100m fly and breaking Matt Biondi’s Trials record in the process.  In Sydney, he finished fourth, but broke Neil Walker’s American record and was a member of the USA’s 4 x 100m medley relay that captured the gold.

Now swimming for Eddie Reece, at the University of Texas, Crocker won  the 100y fly at the NCAAs and claimed the silver medal in the event at the FINA World Championships.  But at the 2002 Phillips Nationals in Fort Lauderdale, 17-year old Michael Phelps rallied in the final yards of the 100m fly to best Crocker and claim the American record.  Thus began an incredible rivalry that would last through the Beijing Olympic Games and become the subject of a behind the scenes, feature-length documentary film released in 2005, “Unfiltered: Michael Phelps & Ian Crocker - The Story Behind Their Rivalry.”  

At the 2003 FINA World Championships, Crocker watched Phelps break the world record in the preliminaries of the 100m butterfly, but Crocker came back to win the gold and set his first individual World Record in the finals, becoming the first in history to break 51 seconds. Phelps was reportedly so bothered that he tore Crocker’s photograph from a magazine and hung it in his bedroom as a motivator.

At their next confrontation in Santa Clara, in the early summer of 2004, Phelps came out on top. But at the 2004 Olympic Trials, Crocker got revenge, easily beating a tired Phelps (swimming in the last of his 17 races) and lowered his own world record to 50.76.  He also qualified to swim in the 100m free, finishing second behind Jason Lezak.

Their race in Athens was ridiculously close, with Phelps taking the gold, with brilliant touch at the wall that had become his trademark and a time of 51.25 to Crocker’s 51.29 seconds.  But before the race, it was clear that Crocker had not been feeling well or swimming well. In his first swim, he had a dreadful first leg of the 400m freestyle relay that left the team in dead last and having to struggle to get the bronze medal.  In his individual 100m free race, he failed to even get past the preliminaries. In fact he suffered from a sore throat when he arrived at the Olympic village. Finishing second in the butterfly had also knocked him off the relay, which he had been a part of since 2000.  But in a magnanimous gesture of grace and sportsmanship, Michael Phelps
2004 OG: Crocker, with teammates Aaron Peirsol and
Brendan Hansen (credit Donald Miralle)
stunned the swimming world by giving up his medley spot to Crocker.  Phelps justified his actions by saying that Crocker had a better relay start, but also that he had taken Crocker’s malaise into consideration.  “He wasn’t feeling too well,” said Phelps. “He deserved another shot.” The gesture brought Crocker to near tears and he didn’t disappoint, splitting a world best time of 50.28 to help his team win the gold and set a new world record.

In 2005, Phelps had backed off a bit on training, while Crocker, having graduated from UT and wanting to redeem himself, was wholly focused on the FINA World Championships. In the much anticipated rematch, Crocker took the lead and had a half body-length lead at the halfway mark. Instead of reeling Crocker in down the backstretch, Phelps actually lost ground to Crocker.  In the final 10 meters, Crocker’s finish was compared to Secretariat finishing the final stretch at the Belmont Stakes horse race to win the Triple-Crown in 1973. He was untouchable, and finished a full body-length ahead of the field, winning with a 50.40. It broke his world record by more than three tenths of a second and was an amazing 1.25 seconds ahead of Phelps.

“When you’re racing (Phelps), you have to always assume it’s going to take a world record to win,” Crocker said after the race. “It’s faster than I thought I could go. You can’t put limits on yourself.”

“What happened here,” said Phelps after the race, “I’m going to use for motivation, and hopefully by next summer. I’ll be able to give (Crocker) a race.”

In the much anticipated re-match in 2006, at the US Nationals in Irvine, Phelps came from be-hind in the final meters to out-touch Crocker.  “When we race each other,” said Phelps after the race, “we bring out the best in one another.”  Later that month, Crocker, without Phelps in the race, claimed the Pan Pac title in the fastest time in the world for the year.

The showcase event at the 2007 Phillips USA Swimming Nationals in Indianapolis was the Phelps-Crocker rivalry.  But just before the start, a photographer’s strobe light inadvertently flashed causing Crocker to flinch. It left him last off the blocks and would result in his disqualification.  Still he caught Phelps and eventually took the lead on the first lap, only to have Phelps chase him down on the homestretch for the victory.  At the 2007 World Championships, Crocker beat Phelps in the semi-finals, but in the final it was Phelps on top again, with a time of 50.77 - the second man in history to break the 51 second barrier.

By 2008, Phelps was confident and in control, and he faced a new rival in Serbian Milorad Cavic. But lost in their historic finish at the Beijing Olympic Games was that Ian Crocker just missing the bronze medal by the same 1/100th of second that decided the gold medal.  Despite not earning a medal in his signature event, Crocker swam in the prelims of the USA’s 4×100m medley relay and received his third Olympic relay gold medal.

Ian Crocker retired after the Beijing Games with 21 medals in major international competition, spanning the Olympics, the FINA World Aquatics Championships and the Pan Pacific Swim-ming Championships. He is one of the only swimmers in history to win the same event (100y butterfly) at NCAA’s all 4 years of college.  He set two long-course world records (50m & 100m butterfly) and three short-course records (50m & 100m fly and 100m free). He also retired holding the world record in the LC 100m butterfly.  But as was the case with many world records, Crocker’s 100 fly mark was taken down in 2009 by Michael Phelps in the full-body tech-suit era. Though the sub-50 second swims by Phelps and Milorad Cavic in the 2009 World Championships were astounding, it’s worth noting that Crocker’s 50.40 from the 2005 worlds remained the only swim in the top 10 performances in 100m butterfly history until Joseph Schooling’s gold medal swim at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, not done in a polyurethane suit.   

Ian Crocker enters the Hall of Fame as one the greatest butterflyers in history and one of Michael Phelps’ greatest rivals. He held onto the 100m fly world record for 6 years and challenged the greatest swimmer in the history of our sport to achieve unimaginable success.

Crocker with Josh Davis at a Mutual of Omaha Break Out 
Swim Clinic (credit Swimswam/ MOO BOSC)

Since retiring, Ian continues to be involved in swimming as a coach, swim school operator and clinician for Mutual of Omaha.  He also pursues his many other interests, including singing and playing the guitar, tinkering with cars and reading. 







ABOUT ISHOF
The International Hall of Fame, established in 1965, is a not-for-profit educational organization located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Its mission is to promote the benefits and importance of swimming as a key to fitness, good health, quality of life, and the water safety of all adults and children.  It accomplishes this through operation of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, a dynamic shrine dedicated to preserving the history of swimming, the memory and recognition of the famous swimmers, divers, water polo players, synchronized swimmers and people involved in life saving activities and education whose lives and accomplishments inspire, educate, and provide role models for people around the world. For more information contact Bruce Wigo at 954-462-6536 ext. 201, or by email bwigo@ishof.org


  

Monday, March 13, 2017

FRANCE’S LAURE MANAUDOU ELECTED TO THE HALL OF FAME- FIRST FRENCH WOMAN TO WIN OLYMPIC GOLD IN SWIMMING BROKE THE “UNBEATABLE” RECORD OF JANET EVANS

FORT LAUDERDALE - The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) announced that Laure Manaudo of France will join 17 others as honorees who will enter the International Swimming Hall of Fame as the Class of 2017. Manaudou is the sixteenth member of the class to be named for ceremonies to be held August 25-27, in Fort Lauderdale. Previously, Open water swimmer Maarten Van Der Weijden, swimmers Wu Chuanyu (CHN) and Takeshi “Halo” Hirose (USA) Georges Vallerey, Jr. (FRA), Alain Bernard (FRA) and Australia’s Leisel Jones (AUS), diver Zhang Xiuwei (CHN) and Laura Wilkinson (USA), long distance swimmer Walter Poe-nisch (USA), water polo players Osvaldo Codaro (ARG), András Bodnár (HUN) and Bridgette Gusterson, synchronized swimmer Anastasia Davydova (RUS), coach Dick Jochums (USA) and photojournalist Heinz Kluetmeier have been announced.

Manaudou with coach Phillipe Lucas
Laure Manaudou was born on October 9, 1986 in Villeurbanne, France. She swam for the club of Ambérieu-en-Bugey, in Ain, from the age of 6 to 14 years old.  In 2000, coach Philippe Lucas spotted her and convinced her parents that he would make her a champion. She then left the family nest to join her new coach in Melun, and a year later she won two silver medals at the European Junior Championships in Malta. Everyone started talking about her enormous potential.

On the podium in 2004
In 2003, at the age of 16, Manaudou won her first French national title in the 50m backstroke, at the French championships. The following year she took gold in the five individual events (400m, 800m, 1500m, 50m back and 100m back) at the French Nationals and qualified for her first Olympic team.  In Athens, a few months later, she won the gold medal in the 400m freestyle.  It was France's first gold medal ever in women's swimming and the first swimming gold medal won by a French athlete since Jean Boiteux's victory in the 400m men's freestyle event at Helsinki in 1952. Manaudou also won the silver medal in the women's 800m freestyle and the bronze medal in the women's 100m backstroke, thus becoming only the second Frenchwoman to win three medals in a single Olympic Games, Summer or Winter.

In 2005, she defended her world title in the 400m freestyle at the 2005 FINA World Champion-ships. At the French Championships in 2006, she did what many thought was impossible. For eighteen years, women swimmers had been chasing the seemingly untouchable record set by America’s Janet Evans in the 400m freestyle at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. There was rea-son to believe it would last for eternity, but Laure Manaudou finally broke it and she lowered Evans' standard again at the European Championship three months later.

She confirmed her status as a favorite to repeat as Olympic champion in Beijing, by winning 5 medals including 2 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze at the 2007 World Swimming Championships in Melbourne, Australia. Shortly thereafter, she signed a sponsorship contract for 5 years for a sum of money that would be close to 1 million euros a year. The same year, on May 6, 2007, she decided to part with coach Philippe Lucas to train in Italy.

Manaudou was the star of French swimming and a real hope of multiple medals at Beijing 2008, but by her own admission 2007 was a crazy year as personal issues interfered with her training. After a season where she had four coaches and a loss of motivation, Laure finished a disappointing 8th in the 400m final and 7th in the 100m backstroke.

Entre Les Lignes
She announced her retirement in early 2009, but living in the United States two years later, start-ed training again and although she qualified for the London Olympic Games in the 100m and 200m backstroke, she failed to advance beyond the preliminaries.  She announced her retirement and left the international aquatic stage as she started it, after winning the 50m backstroke at the European (SC) Championships in November of 2013.

In 2014, Laure released her autobiography, Entre Les Lignes (Between The Lines).  It is a can-did, honest account of her life in competitive swimming, with its sacrifices, its ups and downs, her relationships with her brothers, coaches and lovers and the challenges she faced dealing with fame at an early age.

Triple Olympic medalist, three-time world champion, 18-time European champion and 58 times champion of France, Laure Manaudou enters the ISHOF as the best female swimmer of France's history.



ABOUT ISHOF
The International Hall of Fame, established in 1965, is a not-for-profit educational organization located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Its mission is to promote the benefits and importance of swimming as a key to fitness, good health, quality of life, and the water safety of all adults and children.  It accomplishes this through operation of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, a dynamic shrine dedicated to preserving the history of swimming, the memory and recognition of the famous swimmers, divers, water polo players, synchronized swimmers and people involved in life saving activities and education whose lives and accomplishments inspire, educate, and provide role models for people around the world. For more information contact Bruce Wigo at 954-462-6536 ext. 201, or by email bwigo@ishof.org

Friday, March 10, 2017

AUSTRALIAN LEISEL JONES ELECTED TO THE HALL OF FAME - WINNER OF 9 OLYMPIC MEDALS, 7 WORLD TITLES

FORT LAUDERDALE - The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) announced that Australia’s Leisel Jones will join 17 others as honorees who will enter the International Swimming Hall of Fame as the Class of 2017. Jones is the fifteenth member of the class to be named for ceremonies to be held August 25-27, in Fort Lauderdale. Previously, Open water swimmer Maarten Van Der Weijden, swimmers Wu Chuanyu (CHN) and Takeshi “Halo” Hirose (USA) Georges Vallerey, Jr. (FRA), Alain Bernard (FRA), diver Zhang Xiuwei (CHN) and Laura Wilkinson (USA), long distance swimmer Walter Poenisch (USA), water polo players Osvaldo Codaro (ARG), András Bodnár (HUN) and Bridgette Gusterson, synchronized swimmer Anastasia Davydova (RUS), coach Dick Jochums (USA) and photojournalist Heinz Kluetmeier have been announced.

When Leisel Jones qualified for the London Olympic Games in 2012, she became the first Aus-tralian swimmer to compete in four Olympic Games.  Along with Ian Thorpe, she holds the record for the most Olympic medals (9) won by any Australian, in addition to winning seven FINA world championships.

Sydney Morning Herald depicting 15 year old Leisel Jones
Leisel Marie Jones was born on August 30, 1985. As a ten year-old Brisbane school girl, she watched Samantha Riley win the bronze medal in the 100m breaststroke at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.  Less than four years later, she ousted her idol from the Australian Team by winning the 100m breaststroke at the 2000 Australian Olympic trials at the age of 14. Shortly after her fifteenth birthday, she swam the race of her life to win claim the silver medal in the 100m breaststroke and added another silver in the 4 x 100m medley relay at the Sydney Olympic Games. For the next eight years, Leisel was the most dominating female breaststroker in the world, setting 6 world records, 3 in the 100m and 3 at 200m. Named world swimmer of the year in 2005 & 2006, the pinnacle of her career came with her individual gold medal in the 100m breaststroke, silver medal in the 200m and a second gold medal in the 4 x 100 medley relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Cover of Leisel's book
"Body Lengths" penguin books
Cover of Good
Weekend Magazine
Nicknamed "Diesel"and "Lethal Leisel," she candidly recounts in her 2015 autobiography, Body Lengths, that her achievements were not without their challenges. In her book she tells what it was like to be thrust into the limelight so young and under constant pressure from an early age to be perfect — from coaches, from the media and from herself. Despite the highs of her swimming stardom, she suffered depression, and at one time planned to take her own life. In London, she was criticized in the media for her weight, but she handled herself with great composure. She has emerged with maturity and good humor, having finally learnt how to be herself and live with confidence.  She also hopes that by telling her story, other female athletes will understand they are not alone.  

ABOUT ISHOF
The International Hall of Fame, established in 1965, is a not-for-profit educational organization located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Its mission is to promote the benefits and importance of swimming as a key to fitness, good health, quality of life, and the water safety of all adults and children.  It accomplishes this through operation of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, a dynamic shrine dedicated to preserving the history of swimming, the memory and recognition of the famous swimmers, divers, water polo players, synchronized swimmers and people involved in life saving activities and education whose lives and accomplishments inspire, educate, and provide role models for people around the world. For more information contact Bruce Wigo at 954-462-6536 ext. 201, or by email bwigo@ishof.org





Wednesday, March 8, 2017

ANASTASIA DAVYDOVA SELECTED FOR THE HALL OF FAME - MOST DECORATED SYNCHRO SWIMMER IN HISTORY


FORT LAUDERDALE - The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) announced that Russian synchronized swimmer Anastasia Davydova will join 17 others as honorees who will enter the International Swimming Hall of Fame as the Class of 2017. Davydova is the four-teenth member of the class to be named for ceremonies to be held August 25-27, in Fort Lauderdale. Previously, Open water swimmer Maarten Van Der Weijden, swimmers Wu Chuanyu (CHN) and Takeshi “Halo” Hirose (USA) Georges Vallerey, Jr. (FRA), Alain Bernard (FRA), diver Zhang Xiuwei (CHN) and Laura Wilkinson (USA), long distance swimmer Walter Poenisch (USA), water polo players Osvaldo Codaro (ARG), András Bodnár (HUN) and Bridgette Gusterson, coach Dick Jochums (USA) and photojournalist Heinz Kluetmeier have been announced.

Anastasia Davydova—nicknamed “Asya”— was born on February 2, 1983. She is a five-time Olympic champion, thirteen-time world champion, seven-time European champion in synchro-nized swimming.. Davydova’s specialty was the duet event and she is the only swimmer in his-tory to repeat as an Olympic duet champion. Her routines were on the cutting edge of choreog-raphy, as well as being technically superior. In 2010, FINA declared her the best synchronized swimmer of the XXI century and in 2012 she was the standard bearer of the Russian Olympic team at the closing ceremony of the Games in London.

Anastasia’s first sport was figure skating. Then she saw artistic gymnastics on TV and she left the ice for the ribbon and mat, but not for long. At the age of six, her mother took her for swim lessons where she was exposed to synchronized swimming. She loved the sport so much that she even gave up her favorite foods: chips, cakes and chocolates.  You see, she was a little chubby and the coach put her on a trial period to see if she would lose weight. While she really wanted the “bad food,” she loved synchronized swimming more and the rest, as they say, is his-tory.

In a sport that usually forces athletes to be patient as they build international reputations, Ana-stasia Davydova did not have to wait very long to move to the top. At age 15, she was paired with Anastasia Ermakova (ISHOF 2015). Because they were very successful at the junior level, judges were familiar with them by the time they became seniors. At their first major senior in-ternational event, they placed second in duet at the 2001 FINA World Championships in Fuku-oka, Japan. The next year they performed a nearly flawless routine, including five perfect 10s in the final free program, to win the European Championships. At the 2003 World Champion-ships in Barcelona, Davydova and Ermakova won their first senior world duet title; the Russian team was also victorious. Davydova won team and duet at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Athens in April 2004 and the European Championships in Madrid in May 2004. At the Olympic Games in Athens, Davydova and Ermakova won gold with an impeccable routine, scoring a perfect 50 for artistic impression (receiving a score of ten from all five judges). In the team event, they also won gold, even after a music malfunction required them repeat their per-formance.

Leading up to the Beijing Games, Davydova, Ermakova and the Russian’s were unbeatable, winning every event they entered. At Beijing, the pair again won duet gold, earning a combined 99.251 and all perfect 10s for technical merit. The Russian team also won, leaving Ermakova and Davydova with a record four gold synchro medals.

After Ermakova retired, Davydova began training with Svetlana Romashina. But after the pair won at the 2011 FINA World Championships, Davydova stepped aside in favor of Natalia Ishchenko to focus on the team event, her studies at the Moscow Institute of Economics, Poli-tics, and Law and on coaching youth at her local club. When She announced her retirement af-ter winning gold in the team event at the 2012 Olympic Games, she also announced that she would turn her energy to coaching.  She wanted to be part of keeping the Russians on top. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Russia won both gold medals.

Today, Anastasia Davydova is the director of the Olympic Synchronized Swimming Center, she is a Cavalier of three Russian state orders, is vice- president of the Russian Olympic Commit-tee, Chairman of the Council of Assistance to the Russian Olympic Committee and a member of the Executive Committee of the Russian Olympic Committee.  She also still avoids eating her favorite “bad foods” and is in great shape.

About the ISHOF
The International Hall of Fame, established in 1965, is a not-for-profit educational organization located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Its mission is to promote the benefits and importance of swimming as a key to fitness, good health, quality of life, and the water safety of all adults and children.  It accomplishes this through operation of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, a dynamic shrine dedicated to preserving the history of swimming, the memory and recognition of the famous swimmers, divers, water polo players, synchronized swimmers and people in-volved in life saving activities and education whose lives and accomplishments inspire, edu-cate, and provide role models for people around the world. For more information contact Bruce Wigo at 954-462-6536 ext. 201, or by email bwigo@ishof.org

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

WATER POLO PLAYER BRIDGETTE GUSTERSON ELECTED TO THE HALL OF FAME - A YOUNG GIRL’S DREAM CAME TRUE WHEN AUSTRALIA WON THE GOLD IN 2000

FORT LAUDERDALE - The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) announced that Bridgette Gusterson will join 17 others as honorees who will enter the International Swimming Hall of Fame as the Class of 2017. Bridgette Gusterson Ireland (AUS) is the fourteenth member of the class to be named for ceremonies to be held August 25-27, in Fort Lauderdale. Previously, Open water swimmer Maarten Van Der Weijden, swimmers Wu Chuanyu (CHN) and Takeshi Halo Hirose (USA) Georges Vallerey, Jr. (FRA), Alain Bernard (FRA), diver Zhang Xiuwei (CHN) and Laura Wilkinson (USA), long distance swimmer Walter Poenisch (USA), water polo players Osvaldo Codaro (ARG) and András Bodnár (HUN), coach Dick Jochums (USA) and photojournalist Heinz Kluetmeier have been announced.

Bridgette Gusterson was born on February 7, 1973, in Perth, Western Australia.  As a ten year-old she had a clear and precise goal. She wanted to be an Olympian. The only problem was, she didn't have a sport. Her first choice was gymnastics but she knew she was going to be too tall. The Bicton pool just two minutes from her home and her older sister, Danielle, played water polo, so the choice became clear. Even though womens water polo was not yet on the Olympic program, there were hopes it would be added to the 1984 Olympic program for Los Angeles.  And so began a career that that set the standard for female water polo players around the world.  

As she grew, Gustersons tall, athletic frame (180 cm / 511) lent itself to the demanding center forward position.  But her physical attributes were matched by her fierce determination to master all technical aspects of the game.  As a feared centre forward, accurate passer and outside shooter, Bridgette was regarded as the best all-rounder in the world in the latter parts of the 1990s.  She made her first Australian National Team appearance in 1992 and subsequently represented her country in 212 international matches, scoring more than 400 goals. In 1995, she scored a hat-trick in leading Australia to the World Cup gold medal over the Netherlands and she was the first Australian woman to receive a professional contract to play in Europe, representing the Italian club, Orrizonte from 1995 to 1997.

It had always been her dream, from when she first started playing, that one day women's water polo would be in the Olympics.  As she grew older the dream became more defined.  She would be captain of the team that won the gold medal in the first womens Olympic tournament.  Amazingly her dream came true. It started when she assumed captaincy of the Australian team in 1998. A short time later the Australian Olympic Organizing Committee announced womens water polo was being added, for the first time, to the Olympic program in 2000.  In the semi-final game against Russia, she scored the winning goal with a clever flick shot over the goal keepers shoulder.  The final against the United States was even more dramatic she made the assist that led to the winning goal to break a tie and clinch the gold medal with just 1.3 seconds on the clock.  When the final tallies were made, she had led her team in scoring and to add icing to the top of dream cake, she shared the Olympic triumph with her sister and teammate, Danielle.


Gusterson retired after the 2000 Olympic Games, but continues to be involved in the sport as a coach. She resides in Perth with her husband Gary Ireland (former World Champion swimmer/ surf lifesaver) and their son Kalani.

About ISHOF
The International Hall of Fame, established in 1965, is a not-for-profit educational organization located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Its mission is to promote the benefits and importance of swimming as a key to fitness, good health, quality of life, and the water safety of all adults and children.  It accomplishes this through operation of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, a dynamic shrine dedicated to preserving the history of swimming, the memory and recognition of the famous swimmers, divers, water polo players, synchronized swimmers and people involved in life saving activities and education whose lives and accomplishments inspire, educate, and provide role models for people around the world. For more information contact Bruce Wigo at 954-462-6536 ext. 201, or by email bwigo@ishof.org

Friday, March 3, 2017

HUNGARIAN WATERPOLO PLAYER DR. ANDRÁS BODNÁR ELECTED TO THE HALL OF FAME

FORT LAUDERDALE - The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) announced today that
Dr. András Bodnár will join 17 others as honorees who will enter the International Swimming Hall of Fame as the Class of 2017. Dr. Bodnár is the twelfth member of the class to be named for ceremonies to be held August 25-27, in Fort Lauderdale. Previously, open water swimmer Maarten Van Der Weijden, swimmers Wu Chuanyu (CHN) and Takeshi “Halo” Hirose (USA), Georges Vallerey, Jr. (FRA), Alain Bernard (FRA), diver Zhang Xiuwei (CHN) and Laura Wilkinson (USA), long distance swimmer Walter Poenisch (USA), water polo player Osvaldo Codaro (ARG), coach Dick Jochums (USA) and photojournalist Heinz Kluetmeier have been announced.

“We are so proud of Andras' induction,” says Hungarian Water Polo President Dénes Kemény. “Because after so many Hungarian water polo players in the Hall of Fame (19), we have one more honoree. And there is no doubt about his greatness!"

Hungary is a land of thermal springs and although landlocked, swimming and water sports are ingrained in their culture. This love of water led to an early domination of international swimming and diving competitions in the late 19th and early 20th century competitions.  But in the 1920s, it was water polo that came to symbolize Hungary’s unique strengths and individuality.  From 1928 to 2008, the Hungarians have dominated the sport like no other nation, winning 9 gold medals, 3 silver and 3 bronze medals, including back-to-back titles twice: 1932 and 1936 and, 1952  and 1956, and a triple - back-to-back-to back - from 2000 to 2008.

András Bodnár was born on April 9, 1942 in Ungvár, Hungary, a town that today is known as Uzhgorod, in the Ukraine. In 1952, he began swimming and playing water polo for various clubs in Eger until 1962, when he joined the team of the Budapest University Medical Association. In addition to being an outstanding water polo player, he was also one of Hungary’s top middle distance swimmers.
1964 Hungarian Water Polo Team
He was selected for the first of his four Olympic teams as an 18 year-old and would stand on the podium in each appearance, winning a bronze medal in 1960, gold in 1964 and silver medals in 1968 and 1972. In 1973 he was a member of the team that won the gold at the first FINA World Aquatic Championships in Belgrade. Between 1960 and 1976, he played for the Hungarian National Team in 186 international games - at the same time he was pursuing his medical career. Amazingly, he also swam in the Olympic Games in 1960 and 1964, although he did not make the finals.

In 1968, Bodnár earned his medical degree from the Budapest Semmelweis Medical University. From 1968 to 1985 Dr. Bodnár was Assistant Professor of Surgery. In 1985 he was promoted to head of surgery at Frigyes Korányi Hospital and later National Public Health and Medical Office Supervisor. A man of incredible energy and dedication to his sport, he served as Vice-President of the Hungarian Swimming Federation, water polo division from 1981 to 1989, and as president of the newly formed Hungarian Water Polo Federation from 1989 to 1992. Since 1990 he has been a member of the LEN (European Swimming Federation Medical Committee and since 2004 a member of the Francis Field Foundation Board of Trustees.



In a swimming and water polo career spanning almost two decades, in which he won four Olympic medals (1 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze), the inaugural World Championship Gold, two European Championships and seven Hungarian Championships, Dr. András Bodnár goes down in history as one of the greatest players of all time and the twentieth player from Hungary to be so honored.

About ISHOF
The International Hall of Fame, established in 1965, is a not-for-profit educational organization located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Its mission is to promote the benefits and importance of swimming as a key to fitness, good health, quality of life, and the water safety of all adults and children.  It accomplishes this through operation of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, a dynamic shrine dedicated to preserving the history of swimming, the memory and recognition of the famous swimmers, divers, water polo players, synchronized swimmers and people involved in life saving activities and education whose lives and accomplishments inspire, educate, and provide role models for people around the world. For more information contact Bruce Wigo at 954-462-6536 ext. 201, or by email bwigo@ishof.org


US DIVER LAURA WILKINSON ELECTED TO THE HALL OF FAME

OVERCAME INJURIES TO CLAIM OLYMPIC GOLD 
 
FORT LAUDERDALE - The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) announced today that American diver, LAURA WILKINSON, will become one of seventeen (17) honorees to en-ter the International Swimming Hall of Fame as the Class of 2017. Wilkinson is the eleventh individual to be named for ceremonies to be held August 25-27, in Fort Lauderdale. Previously, Open water swimmer Maarten Van Der Weijden, swimmers Wu Chuanyu (CHN) and Takeshi “Halo” Hirose (USA) Georges Vallerey, Jr. (FRA), Alain Bernard (FRA), diver Zhang Xiuwei (CHN), long distance swimmer Walter Poenisch (USA), water polo player Osvaldo Codaro (ARG), coach Dick Jochums (USA) and photojournalist Heinz Kluetmeier have been an-nounced.

Beginning with her gold medal in the 10m platform event at the 1998 Goodwill Games, Laura Wilkinson is one of the few divers in the world to claim individual gold medals at every major international diving competition during her career. In addition to winning the Goodwill Games, she won gold medals at the Olympic Games (2000), the FINA World Cup (2004) and the FINA World Championships (2005).

Laura Ann Wilkinson was born on November 17, 1977 in Houston, Texas. Inspired by the publicity surrounding Romanian gymnastic guru Béla Károlyi’s arrival to that city, in 1981, Laura fell in love with gymnastics dreamed of being in the 1996 Olympic Games. But after years of training her gymnastic career ended when a growth spurt during puberty made her too tall for the sport. Then, one day while at a swimming pool, she discovered another sport after seeing an ex-gymnast friend who had switched to diving execute an impressive dive.  In spite of  being told by one of her teachers that she was too old to start a new sport, at the age of 15, Laura plunged into diving anyway.  She joined a local club and says she “fell in love with the sport on the first day.”

She didn’t go very far her first year, but the next year Wilkinson won her first US National Title, made the US National Team, and earned a bronze medal at the FINA World Cup in the 10m synchronized diving event, with partner Patty Armstrong.  Earning a scholarship to the University of Texas Wilkinson won the NCAA 10m platform title in 1997 and 1999 and then gave up her scholarship to turn pro and train for the 2000 Olympic Games, at the Woodlands, with coach Kenny Armstrong.

Three months before the Olympic trials, she was doing a typical warmup, flip, somersault, when she landed on a block of wood and broke her right foot in three places.  To fix it, doctors had to re-break everything and they also found she had stress fracture on her left foot as well.  It appeared that another Olympic dream was at an end. But with a persevering heart and faith, she was not deterred by this injury.  In fact, it may have helped her focus. Together, with her coach, Wilkinson embarked on a brutal training regime that included standing in a cast for six hours a day on top of the platform to practice her push-offs. As soon as the cast was removed, Wilkinson began practicing dives underwater, to avoid putting pressure on her foot.  She also watched an “insane amount of video tape” and “visualized every dive” to keep her “head in the game.”

Although her foot was still not fully recovered when she started to train again three weeks be-fore the trials, her perseverance paid off as she won the trials and qualified for her first Olympic Team.

Three months later, while wearing a protective shoe that enabled her walk up the ladder to the platform, Wilkinson battled back from eighth place and a 60-point deficit after the semifinals to record one of the biggest upsets in Olympic diving history. The turning point came in the third dive of the final round, a reverse two-and-a-half somersault, which Wilkinson performed perfectly, entering the water knife straight with barely a ripple. She went on to win over the favored Chinese diver, Li Na by a minuscule 1.7 points.  Her win was the first in the 10m platform event by an American since Leslie Bush, in 1964 and the accomplishment earned her an appearance on a Wheaties' cereal box and a finalist for the prestigious Sullivan Award as one of the nation’s outstanding athletes.

In 2004, although Laura won the World Cup she finished a disappointing fifth at the Olympic Games in Athens. But she came back the next year to win the gold medal at the FINA World Championships in Montreal.  She retired after competing in her third Olympic Games in Bejing as 14  time US National Teams (1995 - 2008),  a 19 -time US National Champion and one of the greatest divers of all time.

Today, Laura continues to follow her faith, is a devoted wife and mother, motivational speaker, writer, mentor and encourager.  Her passion shines through her speaking as she takes her audience on a leap of faith. The lessons she has learned throughout the peaks and valleys of her diving career have given her an insightful outlook on life and have taught her how to be successful in and out of the pool.

About ISHOF
The International Hall of Fame, established in 1965, is a not-for-profit educational organization located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Its mission is to promote the benefits and importance of swimming as a key to fitness, good health, quality of life, and the water safety of all adults and children.  It accomplishes this through operation of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, a dynamic shrine dedicated to preserving the history of swimming, the memory and recognition of the famous swimmers, divers, water polo players, synchronized swimmers and people in-volved in life saving activities and education whose lives and accomplishments inspire, edu-cate, and provide role models for people around the world. For more information contact Bruce Wigo at 954-462-6536 ext. 201, or by email bwigo@ishof.org