Historical Overview of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame


In August 1963, the World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation was founded in Roberval, Québec, Canada for the dual purposes of bringing uniformity, safety and honesty to professional endurance swimming races and to serve as a depository of marathon swimming records and a source of publicity for the sport.

The founders were representatives of swimming races in Argentina, Canada, the United States and the United Arab Republic. James P. Toomey, director of the Atlantic City Around the Island Swim (New Jersey, USA) race, was elected as the Federation's first president, with Lois Fournier of Roberval's Traversee International du Lac St-Jean as vice-president, and Joe Grossman of Atlantic City as Secretary-Treasurer. Race committees which became members were the Atlantic City Around the Island Swim, Traversee international du Lac St-Jean, Mar del Plata (Argentina) and Maratón Acuática Internacional Santa Fe - Coronda(Argentina) groups. In 1963, races were held at all four of those locations, plus races at Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli (Italy) and in the Suez Canal, U.A.R., both of which were affiliated with the International Long Distance Swimming Federation, and independent races at Chicoutimi (Québec, Canada), Chicago (Illinois, USA), Trois-Rivières (Québec, Canada) and Toronto (Ontario, Canada).


IMSHOF founded and a panel of selectors (Commander Gerald Forsberg, OBE, RN of England, Buck Dawson of the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Florida, and Joe Grossman) named “classes” of six electees for each year from 1963 (when the World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation began to collect historical data on the sport) through 1970.

2011 – 2014

Between 2011-2014, the IMSHOF was an independent non-profit organization, maintaining a close working relationship with the ISHOF.

2015 to Present

In 2015, the IMSHOF has once again joined the ISHOF as a formal division of its organization.

Mission Statement

The Mission of the IMSHOF is to promote the benefits and importance of traditional and competitive marathon swimming as a key to fitness, good health, quality of life, and water safety. We do this by maintaining a dynamic shrine dedicated to the history and recognition of marathon (open water) swimmers, including persons involved in life-saving activities of administration, general support, education and environmental awareness throughout the world, whose lives and accomplishments serve to inspire, educate, and to be role models for all.


  • To nominate, and select on an annual basis, outstanding individuals or groups who qualify under the criteria for selection to the IMSHOF; traditional and competitive marathon swimmers, officials, administrators, support and safety groups and contributors, who help make the sport possible throughout the world.
  • To establish and maintain a biography of the inductees selected as honorees into the IMSHOF.
  • To accept nominations and award, on an annual basis, on behalf of the ISHOF, The Irving Davids/Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award.
  • To accept nominations and award, on an annual basis, on behalf of the ISHOF, The Poseidon Award.
  • To accept records and memorabilia of nominees, and provide these to the ISHOF Henning Library, archives and the ISHOF Museum on behalf of the IMSHOF.
  • To conduct, on an annual basis, an IMSHOF Awards and Induction ceremony for the various award winners.
  • To develop and maintain an ISHOF/IMSHOF website to promote and provide up-to-date information via periodic newsletters and external links, to its membership and the world at large regarding the world of Marathon Swimming.