Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Hosts Virtual Induction Ceremony

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The International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (IMSHOF) held its induction ceremony in 2021 and welcomed its new class.

The ceremony took place virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yvetta Hlaváčová, Capri-Napoli (event), Gabriel Chaillou, Julian Critchlow, Stéphane Gomez, Neville Smith, Viola Valli and Ronnie Chiu Wong man were distinguished in the 2021 class.

Hlaváčová set the fastest all-time female Channel time in 2006 at 7 hours and 25 minutes 15 seconds. This broke the 28-year record held by IMSHOF Honoree Penny lee dean. In 2020, only 9 men’s times are faster. She made two more crossings, also one in less than 8 hours. Yvetta completed two epic Vlata River swims for charity: downstream in 2007 138.7 km in 7 consecutive days and upstream in 2008 142.4 km in 35 hours and 2 minutes in 7 consecutive days with temperatures of l water up to 8.3 C. She also successfully competed for 9 years in the FINA World Cup. In 25 events, she was on the podium for about a third of the races. At the 2002 FINA 10K World Cup in Egypt, she won by beating the IMSHOF winners Britta Kamrau and Angela Maurer.

In total, she has swam marathons in 20 countries. Yvetta won other medals: 2002 and 2004 FINA World Championships (25 km team swimming) – bronze and 1991 European Championship 5 km silver. She was also a swimming pool champion: 82 Czech titles, 9 FINA Swimming World Cup medals (freestyle, fly and medley in Brazil 1998) and 3 European masters records.

Gabriel Chaillou competed in 16 countries as an elite runner for 9 years starting in 1996. He has swam in more than 70 races and has been on the podium for more than half of his races. In 1997 he won the 88km Hernandarias – Parana Marathon in the Hot River, breaking the course record held by IMSHOF Honoree Greg Streppel. A few weeks later he won the 25 km Ciudad de Mar del Plata in the cold ocean (Claudio Plit and Igor De Souza. He was a two-time bronze medalist at the FINA 25km World Championships in 1998 and 2002.

Several of his podiums have come in the most prestigious races of the elite circuit: 1997, 2001 and 2002 in Atlantic City, USA and Ohrid in Macedonia; 1997 in Rio Corondo, Argentina; 1999, 2002 and 2004 in Lac St-Jean, Canada; 2003 and 2004 Capri – Naples, Italy; 2004 in Sabac, Serbia; and 2004 at Lac Memphrémagog, Canada. Gabriel faced the dominant swimmer of his time, IMSHOF Honoree Petar Stoychev, and records two victories against him.

In the FINA Marathon Swimming World Cup series, he won six medals: 2nd in 1998, 2000 and 2003 and 3rd in 1999, 2002 and 2004.

Julien critchlow has compiled the first comprehensive list of Channel Swimmers to ensure that there is only one reliable source of information on Channel swims. The English Channel generates the most publicity for the sport and this database is a crucial part of giving swimmers / writers a factual basis for tens of thousands of future stories.

Stephane Gomez competed in 20 countries as an elite runner for 11 years starting in 1999. In 87 events, spanning distances from 10 km to 88 km, he reached the podium after almost half of the races. He was a silver medalist at the FINA 25km World Championships in 2001, the first French swimmer in history to win a medal at the World Open Water Championships.

Stéphane won these prestigious races on the elite circuit: 2004 in Atlantic City, USA; 2004 in Rio Corondo, Argentina; 2004 in Rosario, Argentina; 2005 in San ta Fe, Argentina, 2006 in Hernandarias, Argentina; and 2008 in Capri – Naples, Italy.

In the FINA Marathon Swimming World Cup series, he won four medals: 2nd in 2004 and 2005 and 3rd in 2001 and 2006. In the FINA Grand Prix series, he finished 3rd in 2008. The dominant swimmer of his time, IMSHOF Honoree Pétar Stoychev won in each of those years.

He led the French team to the FINA World Championship by gold team in the 25 km in 2000 and 2004. After his retirement, he took 2nd place at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in 2017 Chattanooga (USA) and 2019 Nice (France) in the 40 – 44 age group.

Neville smith has been involved in marathon and open water swimming for over 30 years as a parent, coach, administrator and official. A FINA Open Water Swimming Referee, he served on the SSA Open Water Swimming Technical Committee and umpired at National, Continental and World Championships and was on the start and finish pontoon at the 2008 Olympics. He is an organizer and manager of events at national federation level (participating in events in more than 10 countries).

Affectionately known as the ‘grandfather’ of open water swimming in South Africa, Neville has been at the forefront of the sport in his native South Africa and has helped expand the discipline across the continent. .

Viola Valli has won two major tournaments: the 2003 FINA 10km Open Water Swimming World Championship and the 2001 FINA 25km World Championship. In both cases, she beat the IMSHOF winners Edith Van Dijk and Angela Maurer.

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She has competed in just 5 elite marathon races in four years since 2000: 4 FINA Open Water Swimming World Championships and 1 World Cup – taking 1st or 2nd place overall. Despite a short career, Viola is one of the most successful women in FINA Open Water World Championship history. She was the first swimmer to be crowned world champion in the 5km, 10km and 25km and won 12 medals at the world championships (5km, 10km and 25km – individual and team).

Ronnie Man Chiu Wong has been a leader in elite competition for nearly three decades as a member of the FINA Open Water Swimming Technical Committee (TOWSC). Member since 1992 and President since 2009, he took responsibility for the 10 km at the London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games. He has visited more than 30 countries and 50 cities on behalf of FINA. The TOWSC is responsible for establishing the rules and general management of all FINA marathon competitions (Olympic Games, World Championships, Grand Prix, World Cup, World Series and Junior events.

He led Hong Kong to organize the Open Water World Cup series with China to form the Asia cluster from 2001 for more than 15 consecutive years. This was of the utmost importance before admitting marathon swimming to the Olympics, because before the Beijing Olympics there were no elite competitions in Asia.

Ronnie represented Hong Kong at the Olympics: 1968 at 16 (100, 200 and 400 freestyle, 100 and 200 backstroke and 200 IM) and 1972 (100 freestyle, 100 fly and 20 IM). It also hosted an annual open water mass participation event starting in 2011 with 4,000 swimmers swimming through Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong in 2018 (approximately 2km).

Capri-Napoli started in 1954 by the IMSHOF winners Lello barbuto and major general Ahmed Zorkani. The race became a Major: World Championship for the International Long Distance Swimming Federation. Until 1992, Capri – Napoli was the first annual race in Europe.

The race resumed in 2003 under the leadership of IMSHOF Honoree Luciano Cotena and was a key event on the FINA circuit. In 2020, 66 laureates completed the course. An open race was added in 2013 to allow epic marathon swimmers such as the IMSHOF winners Ned denison and Anna – Cardin Nordin and relay teams to compete. The two annual races now bring together around 150 swimmers from all over the world. In 2020, swimmers came from 57 nations from 5 continents (Europe 29, Asia 14, Americas 8, Africa 4 and Australia / New Zealand 2).


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