Irving Davids – Captain Roger Wheeler Award Recipients
The International Swimming Hall of Fame’s Irving David / Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award was established in 1970 by the New England Marathon Swimming Association to honor and recognize the contribution of individuals and groups making major contributions to Marathon Swimming and serve as a perpetual memorial to Irving Davids and Captain Roger Wheeler.
1970 – Joe Grossman (USA)
It can be argued that Joe Grossman is the founding father of the modern era of marathon swimming. He was totally involved in all aspects of the sport. He provided the leadership that resulted in the formation of the World Professional Marathon Swimming Association and served as the organization’s Secretary. His efforts laid the foundation for others to build the systems incorporated into the present-day administration and organization of marathon swimming.
Joe was a public information officer by profession and traveled the world on his job. He took these opportunities to promote marathon swimming, to establish personnel contacts and lay the necessary groundwork to bring unity to the marathon swimming programs. He worked tirelessly to increase the prize money and to develop an equitable distribution of the available funds.
1971 – Commander Gerald Forsberg (Great Britain)
Commander Forsberg, born in 1912, has been one of the single greatest influences in the administration and promotion of long distance swimming. Retired from the Royal Navy, he received the Order of the British Empire and as a British Long Distance Swimming Association champion swimmer, competed in 211 long distance championships. He was President of the Channel Swimming Association and between 1963 – 1997, he authored three books and numerous articles promoting the Royal and Merchant Navy’s swimming, life saving interests and long distance swimming. His 40 year career as regular columnist for Swimming Times promoted long distance swimming. As an open water swimmer, he was the British Long Distance Swimming Association champion in Lake Windermere (1957 – 1958), Tobray (1958), Loch Lomond (1959) and the record holder in Lough Neagh, Morecambre Bay 2-way, Winderemere 2‑way, and the English Channel record Holder from England to France between 1957 – 1959. He also set records in the Bristol Channel in 1964 and was the British Long Distance champion between 1957 – 1959. As a swimmer, he has logged 1,256 miles in championship swims and completed over 8,800 miles of swimming and training in the open water. But his contributions to open water swimming go far beyond his swimming prowess.
He was the president of the English Channel Swimming Association for three decades since 1963, president of the British Long Distance Swimming Association between 1982 – 1983, president of and an inductee in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, and a Life Member of the Scottish Amateur Swimming Association. ln 1998, he was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as a Pioneer Contributor.
His publications include Long Distance Swimming (1957), First Stokes in Swimming (1961), Modern Long Distance Swimming (1963), Salvage from the Sea (1977) and numerous short stories, articles, and papers for general periodicals and technical journals. He was a regular monthly contributor of long distance to the Swimming Times and the Nautical Magazine for nearly four decades.
He has served in the Royal and Merchant navy and promoted water safety and water salvage. He was a Navy destroyer captain (1943 – 1949) and was awarded his Order of the British Empire for salvage of a British Airways Comet Airliner, which crashed in deep waters.
1972 – Buck Dawson (USA)
As executive director of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, Buck made major efforts to include open water swimming as integral part of the International Swimming Hall of Fame through displays and written materials maintained in the museum’s library.
As the Camp Director of the Matt Mann Camps in Canada, Buck supported the Amateur Athletic Union and United States Swimming Long Distance Swimming Programs by entering and winning numerous national championships. The camps also served as training camps for the United States Swimming National Open Water Teams and individuals training for English Channel and other marathon swim endeavors.
1975 – Ray and Audry Scott (Great Britain)
For Ray, a lecturer and head of Law and Accounting at the Folkestone College of Technology, and Audrey, a nurse, long distance swimming was their adopted passion, but neither would claim to be swimmers.
For Audrey and Ray, channel swimming became their life. Nothing was too much trouble for this husband-and-wife team who ran the Channel Swimming Association for 33 years. Ray served as Chairman for 33 years from 1960 – 1993 and then as Secretary from 1993 – 1994. His love of France and ability to speak fluent French was a considerable asset. He was appointed the Channel Swimming Association Honorary Ambassador in 1994 for his dedication and service to the Association. Ray acted as an Association Observer for over 300 swims and was present on many of the great occasions in Channel swimming history.
Audrey served initially as Assistant Secretary and in the early 1970’s took over as Honorary Secretary until her death in 1993. Such was her commitment and admiration for those who took on the English Channel that Audrey tried to see every swimmer start and finish, although logistics did not always make that possible. In the swim season she served the worldwide membership 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with a willing heart and never a word of complaint.
Their love for channel swimming and their total dedication to the sport will be hard to equal.
1976 – Aquatic Club du lac St-Jean (Roberval, Quebec, Canada)
The inaugural Paul Bunyun Marathon Event was hosted by the Aquatic Club du lac St-Jean in 1955. The original race was 21 miles across lac St-Jean. In 1958 the race was formalized and the world top professional marathoners were invited open for the first time. Through the years, the race was renamed and the distances changed.
The race continues to this day and is one of the very best organized professional marathon swims. Over the period of years, with their excellent committee structure and total community of local involvement, they were able to change distances and course layout of their race. They evolved over time as demonstrated by their cooperation with the World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation, the International Marathon Swimming Association and presently with the Federation Internationale de Natation Amateur (FINA). The leadership and organizational talents were shared with other race organizations and international administrative marathon swimming organizations.
1977 – Conrad Wennerberg (USA)
Conrad Wennerberg is best known for his book Wind, Waves and Sunburn,first published in 1974. This book remains the most definitive work on the subject of marathon swimming.
Over the course of 23 years, Conrad swam over 8,000 miles while training with his star athletes and world record holders Ted Erickson and Dennis Matuch. He served as escort, trainer and coach on many record-setting swims.
After attending Chicago City College and the University of Chicago, he became interested in the physiology of athletes. Over the next quarter century, he amassed the largest file on marathon swimming. He shared this information with the World Professional Swimming Federation and the International Swimming Hall of Fame. This information was also extremely useful in the development of the biographies of several swimmers listed in this biography.
He is a member of the American Red Cross Lifesaving and Water Safety Programs and the Channel Swimming Association. He was one of the driving influences in the creation of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and serves on its Executive Committee.
Conrad’s contributions to Marathon swimming are too numerous to mention. The sport would not be where it is today had it not been for his selfless contributions. For generations to come, the sport will continue to express its gratitude for Conrad’s contributions.
2003 – British Long Distance Swimming Association
The trail-blazing British Long Distance Swimming Association started to conduct its annual championships in Lake Windermere in 1957. After an affiliation with the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association, the Lake Windermere Championship expanded to accept competitors from Australia, Israel, USA, Canada, Italy, Egypt, Syria, Ireland, Spain, Hungary, Poland, Holland, Belgium and many other countries.
Since 1964, the 25K (15.5-mile) International Long-Distance Swimming Championships have been held in Lake Windermere. In 1986, the first 25K (15.5-mile) World Cup Long Distance Swimming Championships were held under the auspices of FINA and run regularly thereafter.
Over the years, the British Long Distance Swimming Association has held the Windermere Two-Way, Derwentwater Senior and Coniston Senior, Morecambe Cross Bay, Champion of Champions, Derwentwater Junior, Lynn Regis, Wykham Lake Junior and Senior, the Waterloo Junior, Rivington Reservoir Senior, Veterans, Junior and Novice events, and the Millennium Celebration Championships.
2004 – Roger and Valerie Parsons (Great Britain)
After her retirement as one of England’s premier marathon swimmers, Valerie turned her efforts to the administration of the sport and eventually became the Honorary Chairman of the British Long Distance Swimming Association.
In addition to her other duties Valerie assisted with the conduct of the Lake Windermere International 25K event held every four years. At the time, this competition was the most important international event on the amateur calendar.
When FINA formed a commission to study the feasibility of adding open water events to their program, Roger was selected to represent England on the FINA Open Water Commission. He was largely responsible for adapting the British Long Distance Swimming Association and Channel Swimming Association rules into the first FINA Open Water Swimming rules.
When FINA relaxed its rules concerning professionalism, Roger and Valerie established a FINA World Series of Marathon Swimming. Using the old professional circuits as a guide, he combined several independently run professional races into a single cohesive body. As the FINA Open Water commitment grew, Roger was appointed to the Open Water Sub-Committee of the Technical Swimming Committee and then to the Technical Open Water Swimming Committee.
The Parsons used their own personal resources and funds to bring the World Series of Marathon Swimming to fruition. One of the major problems Roger and Valerie faced was the fact that most of the race organizers had never dealt with FINA or their national governing bodies. Initially, race organizers had a very difficult time adhering to the required protocols. Roger and Valerie explained the requirements of these bureaucracies. Race directors greatly respected their efforts.
When he perceived that FINA was not acting fast enough, he resigned and became the Executive Secretary of the International Marathon Swimming Association. The Parsons made special effort to attend all the International Marathon Swimming Association races in Europe, South and North America. He continued to work closely with FINA and eventually FINA took over all the administrative functions of the International Marathon Swimming Association.
With her expertise, Valerie was a very welcome part of the team. When you got Roger, you also got Valerie. Valerie served as a race official, as trainer and coach of a swimmer or in any other capacity were she could meet a need.
The Parsons were not part of the history of marathon swimming in the late 1980’s and 1990’s; they are the history of the sport during that period.
2005 – Lynn Blouin (Canada)
Lynn has been in marathon swimming administration for nearly 20 years. She started as an aid for the annual swim at Lake Memphremagog, Quebec, Canada and quickly rose to the position of Vice President and President in 1993 – 1995. She has also served on the Board of Directors and as Race Director and has always conducted a most exemplary event. When an issue developed between FINA and the race organizers, the International Marathon Swimming Association was formed. Lynn assumed an ever-increasing roll in the development of the International Marathon Swimming Federation that later turned into International Marathon Swimming Association between 1991 – 2000. She was especially active in conducting many world events from 1997 to 2002 as General Secretary of the Association.
Lynn’s efforts eventually resulted in the repairing of relationships with FINA and she remains a very resourceful link for all swimmers and organizers. She also serves as the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Vice President.
2006 – Dale Petranech (USA)
Dale was the United States Swimming Open Water Swimming Committee Chairman since 1977. During his tenure, the United States Open Water program developed from one race quasi-national event to an adequately funded and successful international program. He welcomed the master’s swimmers as part of the United States Swimming Open Water Committee and assisted the masters swimmers to form an independent organization as the sport grew. He was Chairman of the FINA Open Water Swimming Commission, a group assigned to study and make recommendations to FINA for inclusion of Open Water Swimming into their activities, and eventually served as Honorary Secretary of the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee.
He assisted in writing the international FINA Open Water Swimming rules. He has served as a FINA Open Water Official at several World Championships and World Cup events. He has acted as escort for the United States Swimming National Team swimmers at two FINA World Cups.
Most recently, he has served as the Secretary of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Selection Committee and has pushed for Marathon Swimmers selection into the International Swimming Hall Of Fame. He worked on publishing Joe Grossman’s unpublished manuscript on marathon swimming.
His initial work in establishing open water swimming as a separate discipline within FINA laid the groundwork for the establishment of the Open Water Marathon swim in the Olympic Games in 2008. In 1985, he became the oldest swimmer to swim the Catalina Channel, and has circumvented Manhattan Island three times.
2007 – Silvia Dalotto (Argentina)
Upon completion of her marathon swimming career, Silvia assisted race organizers in Argentina with the conduct of their respective races. During this period, she built an extremely tight bond with the swimmers and acted on their behalf with the race organizers. With more dedicated work, she became the liaison of the South American swimmers and the other marathon events throughout the world and the contact for the world’s swimmers to the South American events. During the critical financial crisis in Argentina, she was primarily responsible for the continuance of many events. She has proved to be an excellent liaison between Argentina Swimming Association and the race promoters. She is a certified FINA Open Water Official and has officiated at the FINA Open Water World Championships. On a visit to the United States, she was asked to attend a meeting of the Atlantic City Marathon Swim Organizing Committee. Her explanation and presentations of the swimmers perspectives proved invaluable in the committee’s decision making process.
2008 – Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia)
After a very distinguished marathon swimming career holding the Women’s No.1 World Ranking for seven consecutive years between 1988 – 1995, Shelley became the Honorary Secretary of the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee.
The position of Honorary Secretary in a FINA committee is a most important position because of its responsibility for the committee’s communications and coordination of the committee’s agenda.
She has also served as Chairman of the FINA Athletes Commission which serves FINA athletes and had been the athlete’s representative for Open Water Swimming as voted both the athletes from 1999 – 2005 for Open Water Swimming. She also oversees the entire FINA Open Water Swimming Programs and Activities and has served as a FINA Open Water official at numerous World Championships and other FINA events.
Her autobiography,Dangerous When Wet, details her many achievements. This book has helped many marathon swimmers with their training and mental preparation for swimming a marathon. Presently she is a Motivational Keynote Speaker, Champion Mindset with daily inspirational e-mail service, Your Taylor-Made Solutions. All these activities are based on her marathon swimming.
She is an excellent promoter of the sport and was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame for her swimming accomplishments.
2009 – Michael Read (Great Britain)
Michael was the King of the Channel® between 1979 and 2005 with 33 successful crossings of the English Channel. He was the first person to complete four swims in a year, the first person to complete five swims in a year and the first person to complete six swims in a year (1984). He also made the latest swim of the season recorded; there was frost on the pebbles as he walked into the sea. His crossings include five unsuccessful double-crossing attempts.
Mike has completed over 110 swims greater than 16K (9.9 miles) with most of his swims in cold water ranging from 6°-15°C (42°-60°F). He was the Lake Windermere Champion between 1969 and 1977, setting a record six times. He swam 96.5K (60 miles) around Isle of Wright in 24 hours and 36 minutes, 35.4K (22 miles) across Loch Lomond, 25.7K (16 miles) across Loch Eurn, 25.7K (16 miles) across Lock Tay, 40K (25 miles) between Jeble and Latakia in Syria 25K, and 25K (15.5 miles) between Evian to Lausanne in Switzerland.
He was the 1960 and 1961 British Long Distance Champion, the double-crossing 33.7K (21-mile) Lake Windermere Champion for nine consecutive years between 1969 and 1977. He was the third person to swim the 38.6K (24-mile) Loch Ness in 14 hours and 23 minutes in 6°-7°C (42.8°-44.7°F) water. He was the first to swim Loch Lomond twice (35.4K or 22 miles) once in 12 hours and 13 minutes and later in 11 hours and 51 minutes. He set record for the 14.4K (9-mile) Loch Rannoch swim in 1975 in 5 hours and 8 minutes and completed the first 16K (10-mile) swim from Kings Lynn to Downham Market in England in 1975 in 4 hours and 54 minutes.
He was the first person to swim 64.3K or 40 miles between Hunstanton and Skegness and Hunstanton, 65K (40 miles) from Mora to Amposta in Spain in 1998 in 14 hours and 57 minutes, 37.8K (23.5 miles) from Perth to Broughty Ferry in Australia in 1974 in 9 hours and 43 minutes, 25.7K (16 miles) between Hunstanton-Skegness in 1975 in 8 hours and 30 minutes, 18K (11.1 miles) in a double-crossing of Lake Sursee in Switzerland, a 49.8K (31-mile) triple-crossing of Lake Windermere in 19 hours and 0 minutes, a 67.5K (42-mile) quadruple-crossing of Lake Windermere in 26 hours and 3 minutes.
He completed a 40.2K (25-mile) Nile International Championship in 1977, 40.2K (25 miles) from Jeble to Latakia in Syria in 1977, 28.9K (18 miles) from Jarach to Sabac in Yugoslavia in 1990, 32K (20 miles) across Lake Como from Dervio to Lecco in 1985, 1986, 1988 and 1989, 48K (28.5 miles) around Manhattan Island in New York, USA in 1989, Torregaveta Baia Bacoli in 1986 and 1987, 32K (20 miles) across Lake Zurich from Rapperswill to Zurich in 1988, was the 25.7K (16-mile) Windermere International Champion in 1970 and did the 25.7K (16-mile) Windermere International in 1974, 1978 and 1982, swum 16.8K (10.5 miles) across Lake Windermere 39 times, swam 20.9K (13 miles) from Fleetwood to Morecambe in England, swam four times in Morecambe Cross Bay race, won the International Olympic Committee Championship between Evian and Lausanne in Switzerland in 1991 and 1993, won the International Olympic Committee Championship between Lausanne and Evian in 1992 and 1994, participated in the 25K (15.5-mile) Gulf of Toroneos swim in Greece in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007, swam 9K (5.5 miles) from Proventura to Lerici in Italy in 1993, participated in the British Amateur Swimming Association National 5K Championship in 1966 (3rd), 1967 (3rd), 1968 (3rd), 1969 (5th), 1970 (3rd), 1971 (6th), participated in the 25K (15.5-mile) Amateur Swimming Association National Championship in 1996 (2nd) and 1999 (3rd), Amateur Swimming Association Masters 5K Championship in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007, swam 23K (14.2 miles) from Stavoren to Medemblik in Isslmeer in Holland in 1998, 1999 and 2000, 33K (20.5 miles) from Koroni to Kalamata in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2005, 33K (20.5 miles) from Kalamata to Koroni in 2003 and 2004, 23K (14.2 miles) across Lake Trichonida in 2000, and 25K (15.5 miles) in the World Marathon Series in Alexandria, Egypt in 2000.
He was elected as the British Long Distance Swimming Association “Swimmer of the Year” in 1979 and 1999, honorary citizen of Dervio (Lake Como) in 1988, Honorary Citizen of Nikiti (Greece) in 1993,
He was the Channel Swimming Association Chairman since 1993 and an alternate member of the British 1960 Olympic team in the 800-meter freestyle relay and has served as a swimming administrator in one capacity or another for almost 50 years. He was a FINA judge, timekeeper, referee and starter between 1969 and 1971.
2010 – Christopher Guesdon (Australia)
Christopher Guesdon is a man who has been selflessly and passionately devoted to the sport for over 44 years. He is involved in the sport as an organizer, administrator, official, escort, lobbyist, swimmer, historian and documentor-extraordinaire.
He was a member of the FINA Open Water Swimming Technical Committee between 1996 – 2000. He is a life member and representative of the Channel Swimming Association and was the referee at the 1998 Perth World Championships. He organized many open water events including the 1998 Brisbane Oceania Championships, the 1999 Melbourne Pan Pacific Championships, 2003 Fiji South Pacific Games, 1991 – 2008 Tasmania Open Water Swimming Championships and the 2007 Darwin Arafura Games. Additionally he lectured at the Argentina International Open Water Swimming Clinic, the Fiji Technical Officials Clinic and the Mombasssa, Kenya Technical Officials Clinic. He also refereed, managed swimmers or lectured in Dubai, Hawaii, Suva, Caines, Melbourne, Cook Islands, New Zealand, Tasmania, Indonesia, Canada, Argentina, Nile River, Suez Canal, New Jersey, Lake Michigan, Capri-Napoli, Italy, 90K Relay from Malta to Sicily and La Tuque, a 24-hour race in Quebec, Canada.
In Australia, Chris served as Secretary of Australian Open Water Swimming Technical Committee between 1988 – 2001. He received the Australian Sports Medal in 2000. He was the founder of the Australian Long Distance Swimming Federation, which he led from Tasmania starting in 1973, and a bureau member of the International Long Distance Swimming Federation, which existed between its founding in Paris in 1953 until 1974.
His ability to completely understand the perspective of the athletes allowed him to pioneer the Hong Kong Lifeguards Repulse Bay Round Silver Island & Return Swim in 1977 (that remains a FINA 10K World Cup event) and participated in the Daugo Island to Ela Beach Marathon Race in Papua, New Guinea, the Isle of Capri (Italy) Circumnavigation Swim, the lac La Tuque 24-hour relay, an English Channel attempt and many swims throughout Tasmania.
His legacy will be as the chief architect, and passionate lobbyist, for the Olympic 10KM Marathon Swim which he designed to be acceptable as an Olympic Games event. He presented the plan, initially sketched out on a napkin, to the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee in 1997 where it was accepted as the optimal blueprint for the good of the sport. Ultimately, it was adopted for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
He co-authored the comprehensive and authoritative Australian Long Distance and Marathon Swimming Manual with Bill Ford and helped draft the FINA Open Water Swimming Manual.
2011 – Steven Munatones (USA)
Steven completed five unprecedented swims in Japan. In 1989, he swam 42K (26 miles) across Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest lake in 10 hours and 36 minutes. In 1990, he completed the first double-crossing of the 19.5K (12-mile) Tsugaru Channel from Honshu to Hokkaido in 6 hours and 11 minute and 6 hours and 41 minutes back from Hokkaido to Honshu. 1992, he swam across the Five Lakes of Mount Fuji, Japan in 5 hours and 40 minutes, running and biking between each lake. In 1993, he swam 37K (22.9 miles) between Ishigaki Island, Iriomote Island and Taketomi Island in Okinawa, Japan in 10 hours and 16 minutes. In 1994, Steve swam 29K (18 miles) through hundreds of hammerhead sharks around Yonaguni Island in Okinawa, Japan in 7 hours and 8 minutes.
He also swam the 36K (22.5-mile) Around-the-Island Swim in Atlantic City, USA in 1985, the 42K (26-mile) Traversée Internationale du Lac Memphrémagog in Canada in 1984 and 1985, the 34K (21-mile) Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean in Canada in 1984, the 38.6K (24-mile) Los Cabos Marathon Swim in Mexico in 1984 and the 45.8K (28.5-mile) Manhattan Island Marathon Swim in 1984. He won the 25K (16-mile) International Long-Distance Swimming Championships in Lake Windermere, England in 1982 and two USA National 10-mile championships in 1982 and 1991.
He coached several USA Swimming national open water swimming teams, wrote the Open Water Swimming Dictionary, wrote Open Water Swimming – Swimming Without Lines, created the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame website and The Daily News of Open Water Swimming, and was the NBC Olympics commentator for the first Olympic 10K Marathon Swim at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
He created the Half Century Club, the Open Water Almanac, Openwaterpedia, Sister Swims and the World Open Water Swimming Record lists.
2012 – Drury Gallagher (USA)
Drury Gallagher is a visionary who restarted the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, one of the world’s most iconic marathon swims. Due to his hard-work in the 1980′s and early 1990′s, New York City is now a dynamic hotbed of marathon swimming, world renowned for its Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. As a swimmer, Drury set 27 FINA Masters world records and later founded the Manhattan Island Swimming Association that will be his legacy as a memorial to his son, Drury, Jr. who died in a tragic accident.
He is inducted in the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame and the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Administrator.
2013 – Ned Denison (IRE)
Ned Denison remains an extraordinarily accomplished marathon swimmer in addition to his coaching, administration and leadership. He is the kind of guy that you want on your boat at night. He is the friend you want standing onshore. He is the administrator who makes things happen while making everyone else around feel special He combines the best traits and skills of a drill sergeant, an orchestra conductor, and your best college buddy. Our sport is very fortunate to have a leader like him.
Denison as motivated, educated, organized and assisted thousands of swimmers from California (USA) to Cork (Ireland) in a sport that he passionately serves with compassion, experience and a relentless drive. He is a mountain of a man who not only a high-achieving marathon swimmer in his own right, but a gem of the open water world who is also giving a great deal back to the sport by helping others achieve their dreams.
A special thanks goes to Conrad Wennerberg for the documentation of history that would have not been possible without his help and the information contained in his book, Wind, Waves and Sunburn, Michael Read, and James Doty for their background materials.