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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Tomi Stefanovski Shoulders A Hall Of Fame Legacy

Courtesy of Chris Guesdon, Chairman of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.

The International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame announced that Tomi Stefanovski of Macedonia was voted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in the Class of 2016.

It is an honor well-deserved, but Stefanovski has paid the price for decades of competing as a professional marathon swimmer.

"His grit and strength of character is always evident," recalls International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame voter Steven Munatones. "The colder the water is; the rougher the course becomes; and the more inhospitable the conditions are, the better Tomi becomes. You can see it in his eyes and in his stroke. As the water temperature drops, the pace quickens, and the waves grow, Tomi simply draws a little more energy and shows what a heart of a champion he has."

But it has never been easy. The Macedonian has suffered through 6 shoulder surgeries throughout his 3-decade career. Yet he continues to compete as the oldest man on the FINA World Cup and Grand Prix series.

Despite the surgeries and their inevitable rehabilitations, the 43-year-old achieved two impressive victories on the Grand Prix when he won the 2013 Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean in Quebec, Canada and tied for first with Xavier Desharnais of Canada the following year.

He is well-known for his consistency on the pro circuit. On the 2014 FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix circuit where he finished second overall, he was the only athlete to complete all 7 marathon races: the 57 km Maratón Acuática Internacional Santa Fe - Coronda, the 88 km Maratón Hernandarias-Paraná, the 15 km Maratón Cancún, 32 km Traversée Internationale du lac St-Jean, the 34 km Traversée Internationale du lac Memphrémagog, the 33 km Ohrid Lake Swim Marathon, and the 36 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli.

Stefanovski also crossed the English Channel in 2009 in a speedy 7 hours 42 minutes while raising two young girls and competing against the world’s fastest marathon swimmers, some half his age.

So while he is still competing on the pro circuits and trying to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, his legacy is well-deservedly established by his elevation to the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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