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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Melissa Cunningham Honored By The International Marathon Swimming Hall Of Fame

Melissa Cunningham finds herself in good company for good reason.

The Australian open water swimmer well-deservedly follows in the footsteps of fellow Australian female inductees in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame: luminaries such as Annette Kellerman (1965), Linda McGill (1968), Shelley Taylor-Smith (1990), Susie Maroney (2005) and Penny Palfrey (2009).

She won the 25 km at the 1994 World Swimming Championships in Rome and remained a stalwart on Australian National Swim Team during its heyday in the 1990's. She represented Australia well on the international front and was always swimming well in domestic events from Magentic Island to Townsville in 1991, 1993, 1994 and 1996. She received the Elizabeth Arden Open Water Swimmer of the Year by Swimming Australia Swimming, participated in a record-setting 19 hour 11 minute relay from Malta to Italy, and was selected as the Swimming World Magazine Female Open Water Swimmer of the Year in 1994. In 2008, she played a critical role at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games as an announcer and administrator where she work day and night shifts preparing for the first Olympic 10km Marathon Swim.

"The IMSHOF extends its hearty congratulations to Melissa on her selection. The Hall of Fame welcomes her into the fold of the truly greats in our sport of marathon swimming," said Honorary Secretary Dale Petranech.

"Melissa carried the well-worn mantle of greatness by Australian open water women," agreed Steven Munatones, Vice President of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. "She was a real tough competitor who just never let up. And she balances that competitiveness with a sparkling personality and real passion to help other swimmers. Her performance in Beijing was just as victorious as her gold medal swim at the 1994 World Championships."

And she remains a fighter with a smile and relentlessly positive attitude. She was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer earlier this year and just finished her last treatment. In the process, Cunningham has become an ambassador for the McGrath Foundation where she is utilizing her passion and skills in the water to help others via the program, Every Stroke Counts.

Cunningham'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.

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

The Honour Administrator includes Fiji's Dennis Miller and American coach Don Watson.

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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