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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Don Watson Honored By The International Marathon Swimming Hall Of Fame

In a small village outside of Chicago, Don Watson created a powerhouse, both in the pool and in the open water.

Hinsdale was the center of the professional marathon swimming world when John Kinsella and Sandra Bucha ruled the waves in the 1970's. Both developed by Coach Watson, they were just two of the many aquatic stars that trained under his innovative tutelage and went on to national and international stardom.

But his legacy went beyond the chlorinated confines of the pool and the dynamic nature of lakes, channels and oceans where he spent countless hours mentoring, training and pushing his swimmers. Most of his swimmers did not end up international champions or record holders, but even more importantly they forged a lifestyle where they were victorious in the game of life.

His work as a coach and administrator was recognized by the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame that selected him as an Honour Administrator in its Class of 2013. "The IMSHOF extends its hearty congratulations to Don on his selection. The Hall of Fame welcomes him into the fold of the truly greats in our sport of marathon swimming," said IMSHOF Honorary Secretary Dale Petranech.

"Don knew how to develop kids into champions. His teams were unprecedented powerhouses. He had his high school students competing against the best in the world in his heyday," commented Steven Munatones, Vice President of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. "Whether it was sitting in a boat dealing with rough conditions or early morning workouts, Don was there. He was a man his swimmers trusted and wanted to swim for, really fast. Most times, coaches who develop young athletes who then go off to college and beyond are not properly credited with their fundamental work. But Don was so good at what he did that his legacy was too large to ignore."

Watson's fellow inductees in the Class of 2013 include the following luminaries of the sport:

Honour Swimmers include Great Britain's Lewis Pugh and Nick Adams and Australia's Melissa Cunningham.

Ned Denison was the recipient of the Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award.

The Honour Administrator includes FINA Bureau member Dennis Miller of Fiji.

Honour Organisations include the Midmar Mile from South Africa and the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation from Great Britain.

A Certificate of Merit was issued to the Open Water Swimming Committee of the Indonesian Swimming Federation.

A Pioneer Swimmer recognized by the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame was Rose Pitonof.

ISHOF Finalists included David Yudovin, Mercedes Gleitze, and Dale Petranech.

The names of the honourees, along with 250 other great achievers and outstanding contributors in sport of marathon swimming, will be inscribed on the SEA GODDESS, the official trophy on permanent display at the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Their formal induction will take place during the annual International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame ceremonies. In 2011, the ceremonies were held in the United Nations Building in New York City. In 2012, the ceremonies were held on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California.

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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