IMSHOF discusses controversial wetsuit ruling

Should the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (IMSHoF) recognise wetsuit swims? This was one of the questions raised at an informal congress of the organisation, which took place on 23 April.

The congress followed the IMSHoF dinner and induction ceremony for 2017 honourees, which took place the night before in Old Windsor. About 40 attended including most of the honourees. It was a chance for marathon swimmers to meet the members of the executive committee and hear about the workings of the IMSHOF: nominations, voting, where the committee focuses (and the areas outside the remit of the IMSHOF) and the big tough decisions.

The biggest decisions have been in the areas of regular swimming costumes versus wetsuits and compression suits. The recent decision by FINA, for safety reasons, to mandate wetsuits below 18C and make them optional between 18 and 20 degrees C have greatly changed the sport. Eighteen months ago, the executive committee’s policy was to bar (in nominations) all swims done in wetsuits or compression suits. This had the impact of excluding all contemporary elite racers from the ballot in 2017 (which was not desirable). Recently the executive committee changed the policy to recognise the costume as governed by the swim organisers. For example, if the next Olympic 10k is mandated to be in wetsuits, these swims will be recognised in future nominations. There followed a passionate discussion. From “well done with the new policy”, to “make a new category Honour Swimmer – Assisted” to “add an asterisk” to “bar them”. The topic remains open and others are invited to comment and the plea was made to “make a suggestion – it doesn’t help just to complain about the changes in the sport.”

The meeting concluded with a final reminder that the IMSHOF’s role is not to run the sport but rather to select, honour and enshrine Honour Swimmers and Honour Contributors.

The 2017 Honourees of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame

·        David Barra, USA, Honour Swimmer

·        Richard Broer, Netherlands, Honour Administrator

·        Tamara Bruce, Australia, Honour Swimmer

·        Gibraltar Strait Swimming Association (Asociación Cruce A Nado Del Estrecho De Gibraltar), Spain, Honour Organisation

·        Colin Hill, Great Britain, Honour Administrator

·        David O’Brien, Australia, Honour Swimmer

·        The Pittmans, USA, Honour Pilots

·        Ricardo Ratto, Brazil, Honour Administrator

·        Stephen Redmond, Ireland, Honour Swimmer


Front Row (left to right)

Graham & Margaret Smith (Official Representatives of the British Long Distance Swimming Association (GBR 2002)), Ned Denison (IRE 2012), Beth Yudovin (IMSHOF Executive Committee)

Kneeling ((left to right))

Tamara Bruce (AUS 2017) and Stephen Millar (Official Representative of the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association (IRE 2012))

Standing (left to right)

Merv Sharp (GBR 2006), Ricardo Ratto (BRA 2017),  David O’Brien (AUS 2017), Dr Jane Katz (USA 2014), Nick Adams (GBR 2013), Roger Parsons (GBR 1997), Valerie Parsons (GBR 1990), Vojislav Mijić (SRB 2014), John York (USA 1989),  Irene van der Laan (NED 1985), Colin Hill (GBR  2017), Carol Sing (USA 2000), Jacques Tuset (IMSHOF Voter), Dr Chris Stockdale, MBE (GBR 1991), Ger Carty (Official Representative of the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association (IRE 2012)), Richard Broer (NED 2017), Sally Minty-Gravett, MBE (GBR 2005),  John Pittman (USA 2017),  Christopher Guesdon (AUS 2009) , Partial view – Forrest Nelson (USA 2015), Dale Petranech (USA 1995), Michael P. Read, MBE (GBR 1978), Stephen Redmond (IRE 2017), Captain Tim Johnson (USA 2006), David Barra (USA 2017)

Hands at the far right taking a picture:  Kathrin Lammers – IMSHOF Voter

Stay up to date with The Dip, our free weekly outdoor swimming newsletter.

Outdoor Swimmer is the magazine for outdoor swimmers by outdoor swimmers. We write about fabulous wild swimming locations, amazing swim challenges, swim training advice and swimming gear reviews.