International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame announces 2020 Honours and Awards

The International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (IMSHOF) has announced 15 new honours and awards for its annual Honouree Award Ceremony, which will be held in New York City on Saturday 2 May 2020.

The IMSHOF is set up to promote the benefits and importance of traditional and competitive marathon swimming and to maintain a dynamic shrine dedicated to the history and recognition of marathon (open water) swimmers.

Those receiving honours include:

Cameron Bellamy, ZAF: completed two of the longest ever solo sea swims and became the eleventh swimmer to complete the Oceans Seven – the first Honouree Swimmer from Africa (except Egypt) to do so. The most recent of his achievements came in September this year as he completed the 150km swim from Barbados to St Lucia, a year after becoming the first person to swim the 90km course around Barbados.

Damián Blaum, ARG: first represented Argentina in 2002 at the FINA Marathon World Cup and became a regular on the circuit after four years as runner up, going on to be crowned the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix World Champion in 2013. Damián has competed in more than 120 marathons and set a new world record in 2018 for swimming from Uruguay to Argentina in 9hrs.

Marcia Cleveland, USA: with a marathon career of 27 years and counting, Marcia is also a record holder for the fastest Triple Crown. She has been one of the most prolific contributors to the advancement of distance swimming in the USA and globally.

Captain Nabil Elshazly, EGY: a four-time world champion in the early 1960s, with an impressive set of race results. He also made 25 successful English Channel crossings as a coach and is a holder of a lifetime membership. He founded the Egyptian Lifesaving and Under-Water Federation and was Egypt’s National Swimming Coach for 25 years.

Bryan Finlay, CAN: helped to start the Warwickshire Long Distance Swimming Association (WLDSA) in 1961 and served on the British Long Distance Swimming Association Committee until 1968. In 1964, Bryan guided 15-year-old Kevin Murphy on his Windermere entrance to the sport. He also joined the Board of Solo Swims of Ontario in 1990, serving as its treasurer and now Webmaster. He has worked with more than 30 IMSHOF Honour Swimmers and Contributors.

Spiros Gianniotis, GRE: has competed in every Olympic Marathon event since 2008, most notably winning a silver medal at Rio 2016 after a photo-finish with Dutch swimmer Ferry Weertman. Spiros has also won two FINA 10km Marathon World Championships.

Massimo Guiliani, ITA: became one of the youngest qualified swimming coaches in Italy in 1985 and became the Italian 25km Team Coach for the 1994 FINA World Championship team. In 1995, he became the Italian Open Water Team Manager and under his leadership, Italy have become a powerhouse of modern day competitive open water swimming.

Ijsselmeer Zwemmarathon, NED: 2019 saw the 50th edition of the premier marathon swim of the Netherlands, in which competitors race 21km across the Ijsselmeer from Stavoren to Medemblik.

Esther Nuñez Morera, ESP: competed in over 80 professional races between 2003 and 2016 at distances ranging from 15 to 88km, achieving podium places in more than half. Esther was the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix World Champion in 2007 and 2012. After retirement, she has coached several professional swimmers including IMSHOF Honour Swimmer, Pilar Geijo.

Walter Poenisch, USA: aged 65, Walter became the first person to swim Cuba to Florida, completing the 207km in 35 hours and 15 minutes, in July 1978. He was late entering the world of marathon swimming, first entering (but not finishing) the 1963 Jim Moran Lake Michigan Swim at 50 years old. Walter then went on to set a number of world records for the longest ocean swims (before the Cuba to Florida swim).

Éva Risztov, HUN: competing in the pool in the 2003 World Aquatic Championships, 2004 Athens Olympics, 2002 and 2004 European Championships and subsequently being named the Hungarian Champion 58 times, Eva retired from pool swimming in 2005. In 2009 she announced her comeback as an open water swimmer and has since been named the 2012 FINA Open water swimmer of the year, Swimming World Magazine – Open Water Swimmer of the Year, and Hungarian Sportswoman of the Year.

Doug Woodring, HKG: created a local open water community and two marathon swims in Hong Kong, both of which are directly connected to his global efforts to clean up open water. Doug is the co-founder and director of Ocean Recovery Alliance, which is one of the only organisations in the world that has worked with both the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank on plastic pollution issues in the world’s waters.

Beth Yudovin, USA: helped guide the IMSHOF through a difficult transition after taking over as Chair of the Executive Committee when her husband David Yudovin passed away in March 2015. Prior to taking on this position, Beth had over 30 years’ involvement in the sport as David’s manager and crew chief. Together they completed the first ever marathon swims in Japan, Mexico, Indonesia, New Zealand, Portugal, California’s Channel Islands and Africa.

Petar Stoychev, BUL: won an unprecedented 11 consecutive FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix titles, with over 60 victories in individual professional marathon swims. He completed in four Olympics in the pool and open water and was the flag bearer for Bulgaria at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

S.A. “Sid” Cassidy, USA: recognised for his extensive contributions to the administration of open water swimming. As a swimmer, he achieved a fourth place world ranking in 1979 as a pro marathon swimmer and was part of a record setting English Channel double crossing relay in 1991.

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