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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Marathon Swimming Loses One Of Its Best

It is with great sadness to report that International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Swimmer and the co-founder of the Manhattan Island Swimming Association, Tom Hetzel, passed away this Monday, October 17th in Texas.

A man with a huge heart and deep passion for the sport of open water swimming, Tom touched the hearts of many. From 1968 to 1972, Tom was an internationally ranked marathon swimmer and swum the English Channel eight times as a solo swimmer and captained six relay crossings that set three new records.

He also competed in the 34K Traversée internationale du Lac St-Jean professional race in Canada, the 32K (20-mile) Aswan High Dam race, 48.2K (30 miles) in Baja California, 48.2K (30 miles) from Point Lookout in New York, 12 Manhattan Island Marathon Swims, and coached Doc Counsilman on his English Channel swim.

The author of a highly popular marathon swimming book, Conquest of the English Channel, Tom passed away at the age of 75 from an apparent heart attack in his Dallas apartment.

The swimming community in Corpus Christi is working on creating a memorial open swim in his honor. A local TV report on Tom is here.

Joshua Ruiz said of him, "Tom was an astonishingly humble man and a true American legend. He has left behind God's heavenly bodies of water in exchange for his wings in the sky."

Dale Petranech, Honorary Secretary of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, commented, "We will all miss our friend and fellow swimmer. He made great contributions to marathon swimming. I am sure that we cannot list and appreciate everything that Tommy has accomplished. His eight times across the English Channel and his coaching of several channel swimmers, including coaching great Doc Counsilman, is but a part of his legacy. It is truly a sad day, we will all miss this giant in marathon swimming."

Channel Swimming Association President Michael Read remembers, "The Board and members of the Channel Swimming Association have learned with much sadness of the death of Tom Hetzel. A frequent and most popular visitor to Dover in the 1970-80’s, he was the USA’s most successful Channel swimmer, succeeding on eight occasions. Not content with his own personal achievements, he turned his attentions to helping other aspiring swimmers to fulfill their dreams and he was always welcome on British shores. Sad news indeed, the world has lost one of its great characters, a real sportsman and a phenomenal swimmer, who will always be remembered with great affection amongst his Channel swimming friends."

Drury Gallagher, co-founder of the Manhattan Island Swimming Association with Tom, remembers, "Tom and I grew up on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in Rockaway Beach, New York. We had the same teacher and mentor, Joseph Ruddy: a legend, Olympian swimmer and water polo player and member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Were it not for Tom, there would be no Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. He was the inspiration and motivational force behind the Manhattan Island Swimming Association. It was through the successes of his English Channel swims that he opened the rivers around Manhattan Island for swimmers from around the world. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to follow you around Manhattan."

12-time English Channel swimmer Marcy MacDonald shares her memories, "Tom was a great inspiration to us all. When I started investigating the prospect of swimming the channel, back in 1992 (before the internet), Tom's book helped so much, THANK YOU Tom. He will be missed. Cherish his memory, Peace to his family."

Mike Oram, Chairman of the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation and Channel Swimming Escort pilot, says, "I know I speak for all of us involved with English Channel swimming and the committee and members within the Federation when I say Tom will be sadly missed but happily remembered. Although I was not involved with English Channel swimming in Tom's early swimming days, I met Tom on many occasions and had him aboard when he was accompanying and mentoring his swimmers. A great, but quiet man, who knew how to achieve and motivate. He was to the point with his methods, knew how to get the best out of his swimmers and how to get results. His participation and stories will be missed, his methods, experience and written word will live on."

Wendy Coles of British Swimming recalls, "I have memories of Tom sitting on Dover beach looking out through the western arm and beyond. How proud he was to have conquered the channel. It was a privilege to see him work along with Doc Councilman and Lisa...and how he put together a relay team called the Texas Rangers. Great man will be missed in this vast world that is made so small by the love of open water.

The venerable Kevin Murphy talks respectfully about Tom, "As we go through life there are some people we are glad and proud to have known. For me, Tom Hetzel was one of them. I first came across Tom when I was the teenaged newbie and he was the hero Channel swimmer I was trying to emulate. Those were the days when only a handful got across every year and I was a little in awe. The trouble was, I was first in line and ahead of him in a queue of swimmers waiting to go with the redoubtable pilot, Captain Len Hutchinson. I think it would have been Tom’s second crossing but ‘Hutch’ wasn’t happy with the weather.

I eventually got away, but I held Tom up for so long he had to go home without even getting started that year. He didn’t hold it against me. He was ready with help, advice and encouragement and was very generous in his comments. That was typical of the man – a quietly spoken gentleman with a steely determined core.

He was the expert – a swimmer with multiple crossings to his credit, coach, mentor and author. His legacy will live on in all those capacities. If I hadn’t held him up I have no doubt whatsoever that he would have had another Channel swim to add to his eventual list. In the days before high carbohydrate feeds or even radar on the pilot boats, he was a winner. Tom Hetzel is an integral part of the history of Channel swimming, taking it forward and moving the goalposts of achievement. For that I, and we, owe him a debt of gratitude
."

Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source

4 comments:

  1. Mike Oram - Chairman of the CHannel Swimming & Piloting Federation (CS&PF)and Channel Swimming Escort pilot.
    I know I speak for all of us involved with English Channel swimming and the committee and members within the Federation when I say Tom will be sadly missed but happily remembered.

    Although I was not involved with English Channel swimming in Tom's early swiming days - I started in 1981/82 - I met Tom on many occasions and had him aboard when he was acompanying and mentoring his swimmers. A great but quiet man who knew how to achieve and motivate.
    He was to the point with his methods, knew how to get the best out of his swimmers and how to get results.
    His participation and stories will be missed, his methods, experiance and written word will live on.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Tom was a great inspiration to us all.

    When I started investigating the prospect of swimming the channel, back in 1992 (before the internet), Tom's book helped so much, THANK YOU Tom.

    He will be missed.
    Cherish his memory,
    Peace to his family.
    Marcy MacDonald

    ReplyDelete
  3. Tom`s tremendously inspiring book full of helpful infos for swimmers and crew alike was co-responsible for getting me safely across the Channel first time back in 1985 - when Channel swimming was hardly known of as a sport and feeds at times still consisted of beefburgers in the middle of the Channel (not for vegetarians of course). Unfortunately I never met Tom, and I lost hold of his book - as it was handed on to team member after team member, helping many more swimmers across. I am sure he will enjoy watching over the growing simming fraternity from a higher place!

    Vasanti
    Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team

    ReplyDelete
  4. Tom was a dear friend of mine..He coached me and helped me to become the first African American entered into the Channel Swimming Association. He was a true friend of mine since 1981. I will greatly miss him. God bless his son and daughter and all who loved him...Swim on Tom!!!..Michael Johnson...Frisco, Tx.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you very much for your interest in the world of open water swimming.

The Staff of the World Open Water Swimming Association

2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference

Learn more...
Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE

The Global Open Water Swimming Conference is a conference on the sport of open water swimming, marathon swimming and swimming during triathlons and multi-sport endurance events.

The conference which has been attended by enthusiasts and luminaries from 6 continents, is devoted to providing information about the latest trends, race tactics, training techniques, equipment, psychological preparation, race organization and safety practices used in the sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons.

The conference's mission is to provide opportunities to listen and meet many of the world's most foremost experts in open water swimming, and to meet and discuss the sport among swimmers, coaches, administrators, event organizers, sponsors, vendors, officials, escort pilots, and volunteers from kayakers to safety personnel.

Dozens of presentations at the 2014 Conference at the Mount Stuart House cover numerous aspects of the vast and growing world of open water swimming where attendees can learn and share the latest trends, race tactics, training modalities, swimming techniques, equipment, race organization, logistics, operations, and safety practices for open water swimming as a solo swimmer, competitive athlete, fitness swimmer, masters swimmer, triathlete, multi-sport athlete, administrator, race promoter, sponsor or referee.

The conference was first held in Long Beach, California as part of the 2010 USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Championships. It has since been held on the Queen Mary in California, at Columbia University and the United Nations in New York City, and in Cork, Ireland. This year in September, it comes to another iconic location, the Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.

"The Global Open Water Swimming Conference was started due to the desire and need for athletes, coaches, referees, administrators, race directors, promoters and sponsors from around the world to share, collect and learn information about the growing sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons," said founder Steven Munatones. "Other swimming conferences usually offering nothing on open water swimming or perhaps a speech or two, but we thought open water swimming deserves its own global conference. It is great that the community shares its information via the online social network, but there is nothing like meeting other open water swimming enthusiasts face-to-face and talking about the sport from morning to night."

Speakers at the conference include English Channel swimmers, ice swimmers, record holders, renowned coaches, world champions, professional marathon swimmers, renowned race directors, officials and administrators from the Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

"Because the audience is passionate and educated about the sport and its finest practitioners, the Global Open Water Swimming Conference is also the location of the induction ceremonies for the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and the annual WOWSA Awards that recognize the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year, and the World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year. Special Lifetime Achievement Awards are also occasionally presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the sport over their career."

The 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference Programme

Wednesday, September 17th
Leave Glasgow to commence 2-day tour of Scotland [closest international airport is Glasgow]

Thursday, September 18th
Stay Mainland, North of Scotland

Friday, September 19th
14:00 - Swim Loch Lomond
17:00 - Head to Isle of Bute
19:30 - Scottish Banquet
21:30 - Dinner Dance

Saturday, September 20th
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
12:20 - Lunch and WOWSA Awards
13:40 – Speeches
15:40 - Round Table
19:00 - International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Dinner & Induction Ceremony

Sunday, September 21st
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
14:30 - Swim in St Ninian's Bay on the Isle of Bute

The luminaries of the open water swimming world who will be honored in Scotland will include:

* Sandra Bucha (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Jon Erikson (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Claudio Plit (Argentina), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Judith van Berkel-de Njis (Netherlands), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* David Yudovin (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Mercedes Gleitze (Great Britain), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* George Young (Canada), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Dale Petranech (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Contributor
* Melissa Cunningham (Australia), 2013 Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award winner
* Vojislav Mijić (Serbia), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* James Anderson (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Dr. Jane Katz (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Indonesian Swimming Federation, , International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Organisation
* Elizabeth Fry (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Pádraig Mallon (Ireland), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year
* Olga Kozydub (Russia), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year
* Bering Strait Swim (international team), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year
* International Ice Swimming Association (Ram Barkai, founder, South Africa), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year

For additional articles on the 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference, visit:

* Olga Kozydub To Be Honored In Scotland
* Pádraig Mallon To Be Honored In Mount Stuart Castle
* Mount Stuart House, Splendid Setting For Swimming
* Colleen Blair To Kick-off Global Open Water Swimming Conference
* The Man Who Swims Better Than He Walks
* Joining In The Sea Goddess At The Hall Of Fame
* Mercedes Gleitze To Be Honored In Scotland
* The Incredible Career Of Merceded Gleitze
* Jon Erikson To Be Honoured In Florida
* The Incredible Career Of Mercedes Gleitze
* St Ninian's Bay To Host International Swim Conference

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac



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