Tuesday, February 28, 2017

FRENCHMAN GEORGE VALLEREY ELECTED TO THE HALL OF FAME

One of the worlds most famous swimmers in the 1940
Recipient of the Croix de Guerre and Olympic Medal

FORT LAUDERDALE - The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) announced today that Frenchman Georges Vallerey, will become one of seventeen (17) honorees to enter the International Swimming Hall of Fame as the Class of 2017. Vallerey is the ninth 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), 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 announced. Vallerey, a swimmer and war hero, will enter the Hall of Fame in the Pioneer category.  The Pioneer Category of Honoree Selection was established to recognize individuals whose careers were interrupted by war or politics, or whose great accomplishments or inspirational stories have been overlooked in the fog of time.

If you take a walk in the old French Quarter, in the Wittenau district, of Berlin, you can have a chance to cross the Rue Georges Vallerey. And you can imagine that this Vallerey was a German  administrator, or a general, or whatever else. In fact, the street was named after a Frenchman and one of the worlds most famous swimmers of the 1940s.  His name was
He was born into a family of fish.
 Georges-Urbain Vallerey, Jr. and he was born on October 21st, 1927 in Amiens, France, 100 kilometers north of Paris, into a very special family. The father, Georges (1902-1956) swam at the Paris Olympic Games and his six children, Jehan (1925), Georges, Guy and Michel (1932), Jacques (1939) and Gisele (1930) were all world-class competitive swimmers.  
           
In 1932, the family relocated to Casablanca, Morocco, a colony of France, where Georges became an exceptionally good swimmer. He was gifted and superiorly trained for the time, by his knowledgeable father, who was inspired by the American methods to train in all three strokes. Georges, nicknamed Yo-Yo, was always ready to help others and was only eleven when he made news saving a young girl from drowning. But his great exploit as a lifesaver happened on the 8th November, 1942. 

While the second World War was raging in Europe, an Armistice between the French government, in Vichy, and Nazi Germany, had made Morocco ostensibly a neutral territory.  The Allies saw this
George Vallerey at 15,
recipient of the Croix de Guerre.
neutrality as aiding the Nazis and hoped to convince the sizable French Naval fleet stationed in the harbor of Casablanca, to join them, through a show of strength.  Instead of surrendering, the French fleet resisted and the Naval Battle of Casablanca ensued.  Watching the battle from the beach, which was taking place a few miles out to sea, was George Vallerey and the best friend of the family, Robert Guenet, 14 years his senior. Georges was only 15, but a very strong guy, with a Herculean build (even though not tall, 58’’ or 1,73m), and he could swim like an otter.
           
The French ships were outgunned by the American fleet and several French vessels retreated into the harbor while under attack, hoping to avoid being sunk at sea. George and Robert saw a ship being hit by high-explosive shells some 300 meters off the shore.  By tradition, many of the sailors did not know how to swim and the pair quickly realized that many were drowning as they abandoned the ship.  Without any hesitation, they undressed, jumped into the water and began to swim to the ship, which was still being hit by bullets and shells, through water covered with burning oil.  Each rescued a sailor, returned to the beach with them, and immediately swam back to the burning wreck. The bombing continued but they didnt stop.  Yo-Yo found a little boat on the beach, tied a rope around his waist and swam it out to the ship.  By this method he saved scores of seamen.  
           
On the 13th of May, 1943, Georges Vallerey, and Robert Guenet, were decorated with the Croix de Guerre avec Etoile de Bronze (War Cross with Bronze Star), but that is not the end of this story.
           
Three years later, in 1946, Georges, by now a robust young adult, began his remarkable swimming career that saw him establish with Alfred Nakache and Alexandre Jany the world record for the 300 meters medley relay. By 1947, he was the best French swimmer in the 200 breaststroke, 100 and 200 backstroke, and 400 meters freestyle.

The next year, at the London Olympic Games, he won the bronze medal in the 100 meters backstroke. Seeing his talent, Bob Kiphuth, the great American coach, tried to recruit Georges to Yale University, but he was now established in Paris and declined.  In 1949, Yales Allen Stack, the 100 meters backstroke Olympic champion at London, thinking that the Casablanca swimming pool was fast, wanted to try for the world record and asked Vallerey to accompany him. Vallerey won the race in a time faster than Stacks winning time in London. Later he starred in a short film by famed French filmmaker, Julien Duvivier, that further magnified his reputation and celebrity.
At the 1949 Christmas Cup where
his death warrant was signed.
           
Then in December, he swam in a Christmas Cup, where the water was at 1° Celsius (34° Fahrenheit). He developed a throat infection, that triggered a nephritis, which is an inflammation of his kidneys. The disease would incapacitate him for four years and finally claim his life on October 4, 1954, in Casablanca, seventeen days before his twenty-seventh birthday. In his memory, the Les Tourelles Piscine, where the swimming events of the 1924 Olympic Games were held, was renamed piscine Georges-Vallerey.  Today the pool has been renovated and is one of the great pools of the world - a lasting tribute to a great swimmer and hero who died too young.

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, February 27, 2017

DUTCH OPEN WATER SWIMMER MAARTEN VAN DER WEIJDEN ELECTED TO THE HALL OF FAME


First Cancer Survivor to Win Swimming Olympic Gold
 

Maarten with his Beijing Olympic Gold medal
FORT LAUDERDALE - The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) announced today that Dutch long distance swimmer Maarten Van Der Weijden, will become one of seventeen (17) honorees to enter the International Swimming Hall of Fame as the Class of 2017. And Van Der Weijden is the eighth individual to be named for ceremonies to be held August 25-27, in Fort Lauderdale. Previously, swimmers Wu Chuanyu (CHN) and Takeshi Halo Hirose (USA), 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 announced.

Born in Haastrecht, Netherlands on March 31, 1981, Marteen Van Der Weijden, followed in his older sister Etta’s wake in the pool and open water.  As a young boy, he like challenges and at the age of 11 he swam 100x100m in training. From 1998 to 2000 he became a 12 time Dutch national champion at the 1500m freestyle, 400m freestyle, and 5km open water. Then, in 2001, he was diagnosed with acute leukemia and his chances for survival were very small. For the next two years, Maarten had little control over his life and he depended on the medical specialists to guide him through successful chemotherapy treatment and a stem cell transplantation. In 2003 he started to train again and amazingly qualified for the FINA Open Water World Championships in Barcelona. In 2004, he swam across the Ijsselmeer in 4:20.58 hours, breaking the former record by almost 15 minutes to collect 50,000 Euros, which he donated for cancer research. Van Der Weijden had his own website named "Maarten Van Der Weijden zwemt tegen kanker" (Maarten van der Weijden swims against cancer) where he informed his fans about his life and his career. He also collected more money to invest for cancer research. His dream was to become World Champion and over the next few years he trained hard and worked on his tactics. In 2008, he fulfilled this aim when he won the 25km at the 2008 World Championships in Seville. He also won a bronze medal at the 5km there and finished fourth at the 10km. This result qualified him for the first 10km open water marathon race at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. There he ended up winning the gold medal on August 21, narrowly edging out David Davies of Great Britain. He thus became the first mens’ Olympic Champion in the 10km open water competition. He announced the end of his professional swimming career during his acceptance speech as Dutch Sportsman of the year in 2008.  But that’s not the end of his story.

Cover of Maarten’s autobiography “Beter”
After writing his own biography, “Better,” in 2009 and a successful career as a finance manager for Unilever, he struck out on his own as and entrepreneur and motivational speaker focusing healthcare, sports and business.  In 2015 he initiated his first “Swim to Fight Cancer” in the cold channel of Den Bosch.  It attracted over 500 participants and raised over 500,000 Euros for cancer research.  He continues to use swimming to fight cancer, recently swimming the the running marathon distance (42 km 195m) in the 50m pool of the Pieter van den Hoogenband Swimming Stadium Eindhoven. He has also created a one-man stage show based on his book, “Beter.” All one hundred of his shows have been sold out. He has also performed on the TEDx stage in Rotterdam. 

Maarten is married to Daisy de Ridder and is the father of two daughters,Pilieine (age 2) and Robie, born on February 16, 2017.   



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, February 24, 2017

RICHARD “DICK” JOCHUMS ELECTED TO THE HALL OF FAME - COACHED SWIMMERS TO 25 WORLD RECORDS & 12 OLYMPIC MEDALS

Fort Lauderdale- The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) announced today that
Dick Jochums in 1985

Dick Jochums, will become one of seventeen (17) honorees to enter the International Swimming Hall of Fame as the Class of 2017. Jochums is the seventh individual to be named for ceremonies to be held August 25-27, in Fort Lauderdale. Previously, photo-journalist/contributor Heinz Kluetmeier, and five

Pioneers have been announced, including:  swimmers Wu Chuanyu (CHN), Takashi Halo Hirose (USA);  diver Zhang Xiuwei (CHN), long distance swimmer Walter Poenisch (USA) and water polo player Osvaldo Codaro (ARG).  Jochums will enter the ISHOF as an Honor Coach.

Finally!, says Don Gambril, the legendary Olympic coach who selected Jochums to succeed him at the Long Beach Swim Club. I cant believe it has taken so long for him to get in. He is one of the great ones.

Dick Jochums coached at every level during his career: at swim schools, at colleges and with USS Clubs. He held assistant coaching positions at the University of Washington, the University of California at Berkeley and held his first head coaching position at Cal-State Hayward. Dick moved from Hayward to Long Beach State, while also coaching the Long Beach Swim Club, and then on to the University of Arizona in 1978. In his 20-year career in collegiate swimming, his teams had 12 top ten finishes. In 1995, he moved Santa Clara and returned the famed Santa Clara Swim Clubs mens team to the title of national champions in 1996, 1997 and 1998. He retired from full-time coaching in 2007.

Tim Shaw receiving the coveted
Sullivan Award in 1975.
In the era of American male swimming dominance, Dick Jochums became the USA’s middle distance guru and placed swimmers on every major USA international team from 1973 through 1988.  He was assistant or head coach of 8 major USA National Teams. Among his swimmers are two Hall of Famers: Tim Shaw and Bruce Furniss.  At one time, Shaw simultaneously held the world record in the 200m, 400, 800m and 1500m freestyle. At the 1975 World Championships, Shaw won 3 gold medals, for which he received the coveted the James E. Sullivan Award as the nation’s  At the same meet, his other swimmers, Greg Jagenburg won 2 gold medals and Steve Furniss one. Seven Jochums-coached swimmers swam in the 1976 Olympic Games:  Bruce Furniss, Steve Furniss, Tim Shaw, Dan Harrigan, Steve Greg and Jack Babashoff, winning a combined two gold, three silver and one bronze medal. At the 1978 World Championships, Bob Jackson won 2 gold medals, Jagenburg and Steve Gregg each won silver and Bruce Furniss one relay gold. In 1980, Bob Jackson had the fastest time in the world in the 100m backstroke and did not get to swim in the Olympic Games because of the US led boycott.  In 1984 George Di Carlo won gold in the 400m freestyle and silver in the 1500m, while breaststroke Peter Evans won double bronze medals swimming for Australia. In 2000, in 2000, he coached Tom Wilkens to a bronze medal in 200 IM.  His teams won 8 USA National Long Course Championships and one combined (men’s and women’s) National Title. In 1975, his Long Beach Swim Club team of Rex Favero, Bruce Furniss, Tim Shaw and Steve Furniss set the world record in the 4 x 200 freestyle relay.  It was the last club team to set a world relay record.
outstanding amateur athlete.



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

Thursday, February 23, 2017

ARGENTINE WATER POLO LEGEND, OSVALDO HORACIO CODARO ELECTED TO ISHOF


Cover of El Grafico,
September 15, 1950

FORT LAUDERDALE - The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) announced today that water polo great, Osvaldo Horacio Codaro, of Argentina, will become one of seventeen (17) honorees to enter the International Swimming Hall of Fame as the Class of 2017. Codaro is  the sixth individual to be named for ceremonies to be held August 25-27, in Fort Lauderdale. Previously, swimmers Wu Chuanyu (CHN) and Takeshi Halo Hirose (USA), diver Zhang Xiuwei (CHN), long distance swimmer Walter Poenisch (USA) and photojournalist Heinz Kluetmeier have been announced. Codaro, a water polo player, will enter the Hall of Fame in the Pioneer category.  The Pioneer Category of Honoree Selection was established to recognize individuals whose careers were interrupted by war or politics, or whose great accomplishments or inspirational stories have been overlooked in the fog of time.


Affectionately known as Pacha, Osvaldo Horacio Codaro was born on December 9, 1930. He started to swim at age ten and began playing water polo at the age of 14 for his lifetime coach, Santiago Gentile, with Club Athletico Independiente. In 1954, he moved to Club Comunicaciones for seven years and Club Athletico Boca from 1962 to 1971.  He was the outstanding player in the Americas for more than a decade, and was recognized as one of the worlds best, he did not have the support of a great teambehind him.

1952 Olympic Water Polo Team
of Argentina, Codaro is Top row far left
Codaro participated in five Pan American Games, almost singlehandedly leading his team to gold medals over the team from the United States in both 1951 and 1955.  He played in three Olympic Games, the first as a 17 year old in 1948, at Helsinki in 1952 and at the 1960 Olympic Games of Rome, where in spite of his teams9th place finish, he was considered to be the third best player in the world.At the physical peak of his career, Argentina could not afford to send its team to the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne Australia.  Codaro was one of the first great Big Men- appreciated for his exceptional physical strength, ball handling skills  and understanding of the game.  Over his 27 years playing water polo, his teams won the Argentinian National Championships 22 times. Osvaldo retired from competition at the age of 42, after participating in the Pan American Games in 1971. He served as head coach of the Mens National Water Polo Team from 1975 to 1981 and was President of the Federation de Water Polo in Buenos Aires from 1985 to 1988.  Codaro becomes the fifth athlete from Argentina to join the ISHOF.



Receiving the Club Nation AtleticCup  from
future IOC President, Juan Antonio Samaranch in 1963.
Codaro began playing at a time when Europe was ravaged by war and when South America waterdead-time(later adopted by FINA) and counting ordinaryfouls as personalfouls - which was not. He was of the great players to emerge during this era and his induction into the ISHOF also gives recognition to the contributions of South America to the sport of water polo.











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, February 22, 2017

PHOTOGRAPHER HEINZ KLUETMEIER BECOMES FIRST PHOTOGRAPHER TO ENTER INTERNATIONAL SWIMMING HALL OF FAME

FORT LAUDERDALE - The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) announced today that legendary Sports Illustrated photographer Heinz Kluetmeier will become one of seventeen (17) honorees to enter the International Swimming Hall of Fame as the Class of 2017. Kluetmeier is the fourth individual to be named for ceremonies to be held August 25-27, in Fort Lauderdale. Previously, swimmer Wu Chuanyu (CHN), diver Zhang Xiuwei (CHN) and long distance swimmer Walter Poenisch (USA) have been announced. Kluetmeier will enter the Hall of Fame in the contributor category and will become the first photographer/photo journalist to be so honored. 

Heinz Kluetmeier was born in Berlin, Germany before moving to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He started his photo career early on, photographing professional football games in Green Bay, Wisconsin for the Associated Press at the age of 16. Upon his high school graduation, the AP offered him a full time job as a photographer, but his education took precedence. After a brief stint as engineer following graduation from Dartmouth College and as a staff photographer for the Milwaukee Journal, he was hired by Time, Inc., working for LIFE Magazine and Sports Illustrated until 1973, when LIFE magazine ceased as a weekly and worked full time for Sports Illustrated until 2014. He has shot over 125 covers for Sports Illustrated and twice served as the magazines director of photography.

While he has shot virtually every sport and has covered every Olympic Games, winter and summer except one since 1972, he, as a swimmer in high school, has always had a special affinity for the aquatic sports and photos of aquatic athletes are among his favorites. 

In 1988, Heinz donated his time and original photography to raise money for USA Swimming through a tabletop book, Swimming: A Collection of Photographs by Heinz Kluetmeier, Commemorating One Hundred Years of Amateur Swimming in America. A pioneer in underwater photography, he was the first to experiment with an underwater camera at international competitions during the 1991 FINA World Championship in Perth. The next year he became the first photographer to place a camera underwater to capture an Olympic swimming event, in Barcelona. Sixteen years later, he operated a remote underwater camera that landed the signature image of the Beijing Olympic Games:  Michael Phelps Miracle Finish in the mens 100 meter butterfly race - frame by frame. The photographs in sequence showed Michael Phelps touching the wall before Milorad Cavic, even as Cavic appeared to win from above the water.  The photo defined a moment in time that a lot of people did not believe. People don't trust things they cannot see and with his photos, people were able to see it and trust the electronic timing system.

In a career spanning almost fifty years, Heinz Kluetmeier's pictures have virtually defined what great sports photography is all about. He has photographed every great swimmer from Mark Spitz to Michael Phelps and a collection of his photos will be featured in a special exhibit on the history of swimming through photography that will make its debut during ISHOFs induction weekend in August.

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




Tuesday, February 21, 2017

LONG SWIMS OF WALTER POENISCH EARN SPOT IN THE INTERNATIONAL SWIMMING HOF - FIRST TO SWIM FROM CUBA TO USA

FORT LAUDERDALE - The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) today announced that Long Distance swimmer Walter Poenisch, of Grove City, Ohio will be one of seventeen (17) honorees to enter the International Swimming Hall of Fame as the Class of 2017. Walters is the third name to be announced for ceremonies to be held August 25-27, in Fort Lauderdale. Previously, the names of Wu Chuanyu and Zhang Xiuwei were announced.

Lost in time and in the avalanche of publicity surrounding attempts by others to swim from Cuba to the USA over the past 40 years is the remarkable story of Walter Poenisch and his Swim for Peace.’” says Bruce Wigo, ISHOFs President and CEO. Walter will enter the ISHOF as a Pioneer and I want to commend the selection committee and its Chairman, Camillo Cametti, of Verona, Italy, for recognizing Walter, who was one of the first to use his swimming talents to promote a greater cause. The Pioneer category was created to honor great achievements that have been overlooked by the fog of time or special circumstances that interfered with their careers, such as accidents, war or politics.

Born on July 11, 1913, Walter Poenisch was a baker, rodeo competitor, strongman and swimmer, who entered his first competitive swim in 1963, to show that a 50 year old man could be as active as young fellows. It was the 60-mile Jim Moran[1] professional marathon swim in Lake Michigan.
Walter failed to finish but was hooked on the sport and was determined to swim even greater distances. Troubled by the Cuban Missile Crisis that brought the world to brink of nuclear catastrophe, he conceived of the idea of swimming the 90 miles from Cuba to the USA for world peace. To further better relations between my country and Cuba, he said. As the USA had no formal relations with Cuba, Walter started a letter writing campaign to governments that had contact with Havana. With optimism and onfidence in his cause, Walter immediately began serious training. But the required permissions were not forthcoming. For years he continued to write letters, make calls and worked with Rene Mujica of the Cuban Interest Section in Washington, DC. All the while, he continued to train, setting up training camps in Fort Lauderdale and keeping his dream alive in the media with stunts like towing boats filled with passengers and setting long-distance records in the Florida Straits. In 1976 he swam -- certifiably  into the Guinness Book of World Records -- 122 1/2 miles from Key West to the tip of the Florida peninsula, at the time the world's longest ocean swim. In 1976, he received permission from the Cuban government to apply for a visa, which was finally
granted in March of 1978. The swim was planned to begin on July 11th, 1978, a date coinciding with Walters 65th birthday. On hand to personally celebrate Walters birthday and wish him success on his Swim for Peace was Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Before entering the water, Castro proposed a toast honoring Walters efforts and his dream of peace between their two nations. Walter was the first person to attempt to swim from Cuba to the USA for sport and rules were drawn up by an authenticating organization, The International Federation of Ocean Swimmers and Divers.  These rules, announced before the swim, permitted him to use a shark cage, fins to protect his feet from the cage, and a snorkel. He was also permitted to get out of the water up to four times for a period of no longer than five minutes to administer emergency medicine treatment, receive critical nourishment or for any reason that directly threatened the life of the swimmer. Walter followed these rules to the tee and thirty-four hours after leaving Cuba, Walter completed his dream, culminating on the shores of Little Duck Key, Florida. According to legendary sports reporter and author David Heeren, who covered Walters swim for the Fort Lauderdale News, His (Walters) accomplishment was greater, in my opinion, than the climb of Everest. There have been many Everest climbers, but only one (legitimate) Cuba to U.S.A. swimmer.

Walter Poenisch passed away on June 6, 2000, never having received the recognition due him for inspiring generations of swimmers and others with his persistence, perseverance and courage.  He is survived by his wife, Faye, who will accept his honor on his behalf.

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, 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




[1] Jim Moran was a famous car dealer and philanthropist who received ISHOFs Gold Medallion Award in 1995.  see: http://www.ishof.org/jim-moran.html

Friday, February 17, 2017

LEGENDARY AQUATIC STARS FROM CHINA TO ENTER THE HALL OF FAME - Ceremonies Return to Fort Lauderdale in 2017

FORT LAUDERDALE - The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) today announced the first two Honorees of the seventeen (17) member Class of 2017.  Future announcements will be made daily until all members of the Class are named.  The 53rd Annual ISHOF Induction Weekend will be held in Fort Lauderdale, August 25-27.

It is always a difficult process because there are so many worthy candidates, said Donna de Varona, ISHOF's Board Chair.  “But once again, our committee members from all over the world have done an outstanding job. Among this years honorees are athletes, coaches and contributors from eight different nations (Argentina, Australia, China, France, Hungary, the Netherlands and Russia) selected from the Olympic sports of swimming, diving, synchronized swimming and water polo.  On behalf of the Board of Directors, I want to thank Camillo Cametti, of Verona Italy, Chairman, and all the members of the International Selection Committee for a job well done.

The first two honorees to be named, representing the Peoples Republic of China, are WU Chuanyu, a swimmer, and diver ZHANG Xiuwei.  Both Wu and Zhang will enter the ISHOF in the Pioneer category.  The Pioneer category was created to honor great achievements that have been overlooked by the fog of time or special circumstances that interfered with their careers, such as accidents, war or politics.

Although Wu Chuanyu died in a plane crash over sixty years ago, he was arguably the most famouss national anthem played outside of the motherland. Returning to training in Budapest and with his times nearing the 100m backstroke world record, a bright future was anticipated.  In September of 1954, Wu received another honor when he became the first and only athlete named as a representative to the First National Peoples Congress (NPC).  A month after his appointment to the NPC, at the age of 26, he tragically died in a plane crash while on his way to resume training in Hungary. His death put the entire nation in mourning and  he is revered today as the father of modern Chinas swimming.

Chinese athlete of the 1950s and remains one of the most significant and revered figures in the People's Republic of China today. Born and raised in Indonesia, Wu was ethnically Chinese and was recruited in 1951 by the new communist Chinese government that had come to power two years earlier. In 1952, he became the first athlete to represent the People’s Republic of China in the Olympic Games and after training in Russia and Budapest the next year, he won the 100m backstroke at the 4th World Festival of Youth and Students, in Bucharest. His victory was the first for a Chinese athlete in a major international competition in any sport and the first to have the 5-star red flag and PRC

Zhang Xiuwei dove at a time when the People’s Republic of China was not a member of FINA and could not compete in the Olympic Games or other “sanctioned” events. Her first coach in diving was Wang Shaogang, but in 1958 she joined the Tianjin Diving Team where she was trained by Coach Wu Chengxi. At the first GANEFO Games in Indonesia, in 1963, Zhang won the 10m platform with a bronze medal on the 3m springboard. Jeng Jeng, a reporter at the time for a Tianjin newspaper, wrote a novel and produced a film based on Zhang’s story and victory. The movie,  “Diving Girls” had an immense influence and inspired generations of young girls to consider diving and the public to appreciate the sport. In fact, it can be said she is at least partly responsible for the positive and highly respected image the sport of diving enjoys in China today.  She was dedicated at Tianjin Athletic Institute as a professor.  Her coaching career took off in 1973 when Wang Min won China’s 10m platform and 3m springboard championships.  Many of her divers became regional and provincial coaches in China.

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, 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