The acronym IMSHOF refers to both the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame.
The International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame honors swimmers, coaches, pilots, administrators and contributors who have excelled in open water swimming world while the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame recognizes swimmers, divers, synchronized swimmers, water polo players and contributors.
Befitting its focus on pool competitions, the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame has a well-defined scorecard in order to determine its honorees, especially pool swimmers.
With its venues the oceans, lakes, bays and rivers of the world, the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame has traditionally judged its honorees by a more broad-based definition of excellence. While the swimmers are judged by stopwatches and water polo players, divers and synchronized swimmers judged by scores, the open water swimmers are two fundamental types: competition-oriented athletes and solo swimmers who challenge the myriad waterways of the world.
Both the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame and the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame are headquartered at the International Swimming Hall of Fame facilities in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. The inaugural induction of the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame took place in January, 2003 while the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame dates back to 1961 when it was founded by the World Professional Marathon Swimmers Association. Similar to the masters swimming movement in the early 21st century, the marathon swimming community back in the early 1960s wanted to recognize their colleagues and predecessors across the world. In 1962, the International Swimming Hall of Fame formerly approved the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame as its affiliate focused on open water swimming.
In order to be considered for induction in the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame, athletes must have competed for a minimum of 16 years, spanning four different age groups in the sport. For induction in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, there is no set minimum career length, but similar to their masters colleagues, the marathon swimming inductees are recognized as world leaders and champions in their sport, superior to their peers in their respective eras.
In the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame, a point-ranking system has been devised for the pool swimming discipline. For a Masters World Record in the pool, an individual is given 10 points. Swimmers are also allotted points for individual Masters World Rankings (5 points for 1st, 3 points for 2nd, 1 point for 3rd) and placing at the biennial FINA Masters World Championships (3 points for 1st, 2 points for 2nd, 1 point for 3rd).
While the point system for the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame starts with the records as of November 1983, the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame also recognizes Pioneer Swimmers who made their mark over fifty years ago. These inductees have the same qualifying standards as modern-day swimmers, but they are given some latitude related to the number of swims they did, and in some cases, the distance of the swims, because of the conditions that existed in their era.
International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame considers athletes of two general types: racers and solo swimmers. Many inductees, in fact, have proven themselves as both racers and solo swimmers such as Greta Andersen and John Kinsella. Racers are those swimmers who regularly compete in world-class races. This includes, but is not limited to, the Olympic Games, FINA World Championships, FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix and FINA 10KM Marathon Swimming World Cup events. Primary consideration is given to swimmers who have won or achieved medal performances and competed at the international level for a minimum of ten years. Solo swimmers are swimmers who swim outside of competition and swim for time or merely to finish. They may swim a single non-stop event or a series of swims on successive days. Their swims are over 10 kilometers in length and their efforts should extend over a period of years and not in only one body of water unless the swimmer claims several swims in the same body of water.
In the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame, there are approximately nine inductees selected annually. Representation is proportionate to each discipline’s numbers of participants worldwide: 3 female swimmers, 3 male swimmers, and 3 divers, synchronized swimmers, water polo players or contributors. For the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, there is no set number of annual inductees. Some years, there are very few inductees. In other years, there are several honorees. But as the sport of open water swimming grows, the number of marathon swimmers inducted is generally increasing.
The Selection Committee of the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame is chaired by Walt Reid with June Krauser and is comprised of 62 international authorities from the masters aquatics community. Similar to their marathon counterparts, a balloting process is used to finalize those nominees who are selected for induction.
The Selection Committee of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame comprises of its Board of Directors. Currently, the board includes Kevin Murphy (England, President), Dale Petranech (USA, Secretary & Treasurer), Steven Munatones (USA, Chief Administrator, Vice Chairman), Paul Asmuth (USA), Lynn Blouin (Canada, Vice President North America), Richard Broer (Netherlands), Sid Cassidy (USA), David Clark (USA), Silvia Dalotto (Argentina, Vice President South America), James Doty (USA), Bob Duenkel (USA), Christopher Guesdon (Australia, Program Vice President), Dee Llewellyn (England), Tim Johnson (USA), Pavel Kuznetsov (Russia), Stephane Lecat (France, Vice President Europe), Dr. Marcella MacDonald (USA), Yuko Matsuzaki (Japan, Vice President Asia), Dr. Osama Ahmed Momtaz (Egypt), Pierre Otis (Canada), Michael Read (England), Wayne Riddin (South Africa, Co-Vice President Africa), Philip Rush (New Zealand, Vice President Oceania), Carol Sing (USA), Neville Smith (South Africa, Co-Vice President Africa), Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia), Skip Storch (USA), Montserrat Tresserras Dou (Spain), Irene van der Laan (Netherlands), and Peter van Vooren (Belgium).
Anyone can nominate any individual to the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. Over the years, the marathon distances for consideration have been redefined. Initially the distance was 10 miles, then it was changed to a minimum of 25 kilometers. Most recently with the addition of the Olympic 10km Marathon Swim, the minimum distance for selection purposes is now 10 kilometers.
There are 67 current honorees in the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame with at least one honoree approaching 100 years of age. There are 218 current honourees in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, many of whom were at the top of their fields before 1950, from Gertrude Ederle to Lord Byron.
Both organizations also rightly recognize the often unsung Administrators of their respective disciplines (including coaches, escorts, officials, organizers and support personnel) who have worked tirelessly in various functions to develop the two disciplines. In the marathon swimming world, there are no strict rules or guidelines as to what makes a world-class administrator. It may be the volume of work, longevity or just being at the right place at the right time.
Among the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame inductees, there are several open water swimmers including Jim McConica, Willy Van Rysel (the only female inductee in both Halls of Fame), Suzanne Heim Bowen, Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen, Drury Gallagher (shown above, the only male inductee in both Halls of Fame), and Sandy Neilson-Bell.
The International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame honorees are selected due to their aquatic feats in chlorinated pools, achieved over the matter of seconds or minutes, and judged by time or scores, where winning races or competitions are a matter of technique, endurance and speed. The International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame honorees are selected due to their feats of endurance in open bodies of water performed over the course of hours, and sometimes days, where they often faced extreme temperatures, marine life and inhospitable conditions.
But whether the honoree is recognized by the IMSHOF or the IMSHOF, all the honorees have made significant contributions and add to the legacy of their respective disciplines. They are aquatic heroes and heroines – role models of the waterways – as they clearly demonstrated their passion and pursued it to the highest levels.