Hall of Fame About Us

ISHOF Board of Directors

Dennis Carey
Dennis Carey (www.DennisCarey.com) is a senior client partner in the executive search firm Korn Ferry International, specializing in the CEO and Board Services department, where he recruits and places top CEOs and corporate directors. In recent years, Dennis Carey has conducted searches for the current CEOs of Tyco International, Unisys, MCI and American Standard and 3M, among others. He has authored numerous articles on corporate governance, director recruitment, board compensation and has published three books: CEO Succession and The Human Side of M&A, both published by Oxford University Press in 2000, and How to Run a Company, published by Crown Business in 2003. He founded the G100, the Chairman Academy and the CEO Academy. Dennis Carey (Dennis-Carey.com) also co-founded the Wharton Board Excellence Award Program. In 1980, Dennis successfully swam across the English Channel.

Donna DeVarona, Chairperson
 Donna De Varona is a pioneer in the field of female athletics and broadcasting. She made her first Olympic team in 1960 at the age of 13 and won two gold medals at the 1964 summer Olympics.  The following year, at the age of 17, she became the first woman on network TV as a sports broadcaster.  In 1974, Donna helped found the Women's Sports Foundation and pioneered the fight for increasing athletic opportunities for women in high school and college.  In 1991 she received an EMMY for her work during the Special Olympics. She was chair for the 1999 Women's World Cup of soccer in America and served on the board of NY City's 2012 Olympic Bid Committee. Donna has been inducted into several Halls of Fame, including the International Swimming Hall of Fame and is the recipient of the NCAA's Teddy Roosevelt Award, the organization’s highest honor. 

Jim Ellis 
Ellis is the subject of recently released film PRIDE, a biopic which tells the story of a swim coach and youth mentor who built a successful swimming program in one of Philly’s most impoverished neighborhoods in the 1970s. When Ellis founded the P.D.R. swim team in 1971, it was a time when the lives of young African-American teens in Philadelphia were often full of hardship and prejudice. The film shows this uplifting and soulful story of Ellis’ journey that pulled together a group of troubled inner-city kids, made them into a dedicated team, and taught them how to overcome adversity through hard work and determination. Ellis has sent hundreds of inner city boys and girls to college on swimming scholarships and is one of the leading figures in the world of swimming.

Eldon Charles Godfrey
Godfrey is Senior Partner in the accounting firm of Godfrey & Godfrey and has twice been awarded the Distinguished Service Award of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (Canada).
2001 Honoured as a Fellow of the Charterd Accountants (FCA).  He has served as a Member of the FINA Bureau (Board of Directors of the World Swimming Federation) and serves as the liaison to the Technical Diving Committee.  He has previously served as President of Diving Canada and the Aquatic Federation of Canada.  In 2000 he was named Calgary Sportsman of the Year and was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 32nd Annual Canadian Sports Awards ceremony.

Richard Korhammer, President
Richard Korhammer is the CEO and co-founder of Lava Trading Inc., the largest independent provider of high-performance trading solutions to the financial services industry. Lava’s clients include most of the top 20 U.S. investment banks, market makers, hedge funds and institutional investors.  Although Lava was purchased by Citigroup in 2004, Mr. Korhammer continues as CEO, and operates LAVA as an independent wholly owned subsidiary, to ensure confidentiality of client data.  Richard is a graduate of Princeton University (’89) and holds a B.S.E. in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. He is a member of the Nasdaq UTP Plan Advisory Committee and also a recipient of several honors, including the New York Ten Award and the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.  Richard was an All-American swimmer at Princeton, an NCAA record holder and trained in the Hall of Fame pool for the 1992 Olympics with Hall of Fame coach Jack Nelson.

Tod Spieker  
Tod Spieker is a former UCLA All-American Swimmer, entrepreneur and sole owner of Speaker Companies of Palo Alto CA, a real estate holding company with a rental property portfolio in the Silicon Valley valued in excess of $700M   As a master's swimmer, Tod has broken over 30 world master's records and is an inductee of the International Master's Hall of Fame.  Tod's other charitable interests include:  the Spieker Sports Medicine Wing at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Spieker UCLA Geography Colloquium, UCLA Foundation, UC Santa Cruz Foundation and the Housing Industry Foundation.

Mike Snyder
Until recently, Mike Snyder was the CEO of Vonage, the internet phone company. Prior to that he served as president of ADT since it acquisition by Tyco in 1997 through February of 2006.  Under Snyder’s leadership, ADT grew as a provider of intrusion, CCTV, access control, fire protection, alarm monitoring, electronic article surveillance and integrated systems and services to more than 10 million residential, commercial and government customers throughout the United States, including 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies, Europe and Asia.  Mike was a high school and college swimmer who trained many times in the ISHOF pool during his competitive career.

Mark Spitz, Chairman Emeritus  
For six years, beginning in 1966, ISHOF's Chairman of the Board, Mark Spitz, dominated the sport of swimming.  At the 1972 Olympic Games, held in Munich, West Germany, he gave the most dominating athletic performance in Olympic history, winning an unprecedented seven gold medals, and each of his medal-winning performances broke a world swimming record.  Since his retirement from competitive swimming he has gone on to successful careers as both a businessman and motivational speaker.  Today, he remains the most widely recognized swimming personality in the world.

Tony Corbisero

Aaron Peirsol

Terry Carlise

Bill Kent, Treasurer

Jack Seiler, City Designee

Bruce Wigo, CEO
Bruce Wigo was named President and CEO of ISHOF on Friday the 13th of May, 2005.  He is lawyer who has had success in turning around financially troubled non-profit businesses. In 1991, he took over as the Executive Director of USA Water Polo and helped bail out the nearly bankrupt sport's federation.  In his thirteen years as ED, he increased membership from less than 8,000 to more than 30,000, more than tripled the annual budget to over $3.5 million and raised over $1.5 million for the establishment of a water polo national training center in Los Alamitos, CA.  His oldest son, Wolf Wigo, is a three time Olympian, is currently the head water polo coach at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Daughter Lauren is the corporate yoga instructor for Allen & Company in New York City and his two younger sons, identical twins Drac and Janson, are NCAA All-American water polo players at Stanford University.

History of Swimming in Fort Lauderdale
and the International Swimming Hall of Fame

Fort Lauderdale’s Early Swimming History
Fort Lauderdale’s swimming heritage dates back to the Civitan raft off Las Olas beach and the monumental Olympic-sized Casino Pool, which opened in 1928.   Within a few short years, Fort Lauderdale gained national attention by producing two young swimming stars that won Olympic Fame, Elbert Root and Katherine Rawls.  Rawls was the greatest women swimmer of her time.  The Associated Press named Rawls national female athlete of the year, in 1936. That same year, the College Swimming Coaches Association of America discovered Fort Lauderdale and organized the first annual Coaches Forum in the City.   In 1937, the Women’s National Aquatic Forum joined the coaches Forum.  By 1960, the Forum was attracting 44 colleges and universities, 28 prep schools, 28 clubs and over 600 swimmers for Christmas training.

Fort Lauderdale is Awarded the Swimming Hall of Fame
The idea for a Swimming Hall of Fame began with the Amateur Athletic Union of the United States, by a committee headed by the then president of FINA , R. Max Ritter. The College Coaches Swim Forum first kindled Fort Lauderdale’s interest in the Hall of Fame. Fort Lauderdale’s Mayor Burry, the entire city commission, and even Florida’s Governor Farris Bryant expressed support for the establishment the Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale. To pursue the idea, Fort Lauderdale’s City Commission created “Mayor’s Swimmers’ Hall of Fame Citizen’s Committee,” early in 1962. Members of this committee included the entire commission and 30 civic leaders.  
On November 9, 1962, the City Commission unanimously approved: A RESOLUTION INDICATING THAT THE CITY OF FORT LAUDERDALE IS INTERESTED IN ESTABLISHING THE FACILITY KNOWN AS “THE SWIMMING HALL OF FAME” IN THE CITY OF FORT LAUDERDALE AND IS IN A POSITION TO PRESENT ITS PLANS THEREFOR. At the same meeting, the commission approved an allocation of $250,000, the expected proceeds from the sale of the Casino Pool land, for the initial cost of a plan to build the shrine and an Olympic size pool. The plan called for the Hall of Fame to be situated on a man-made pier that would extend 400 feet into the intracoastal and be built by the Florida Inland Navigation District. It was noted by the commission that although the city has pledged the money, the project was contingent upon winning the bid for the shrine. “If another city takes the bid the whole project will be cancelled.”

On November 27, 1962, a five-man team – four from Fort Lauderdale and Ted Groves from the Florida Development Commission – presented the plan, along with letters of support from various organizations, to the general assembly of the 75th Amateur Athletic Union convention in Detroit.  The AAU unanimously selected Fort Lauderdale’s bid over the bids of Houston and Louisville. “We are grateful to them for bringing this new project to Ft. Lauderdale,” said Mayor Burry.

Among the letters of support presented to the AAU’s committee was one from Mayor Burry, which read in part: “The municipal government of Fort Lauderdale extends a warm and cordial invitation to you and the members of your selection committee to take advantage of our hospitality and to favor us with this national shrine, for which we are more than willing to contribute our financial assistance and continuing zeal and affection.”

In another, Robert Culliver, president of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, wrote: “This community needs the cultural asset of a museum that marks one of the traditions of our city. Our organization has set aside a considerable sum of money for such a purpose. We heartily welcome the Swimming Hall of Fame and will continue our support in years to come”.

Upon winning the bid, the “Mayor’s Swimmers’ Hall of Fame Citizen’s Committee” became the “Hall of Fame Administration Committee,” chaired by Mayor Burry.

The Swimming Hall of Fame Pool
Work began almost immediately on the man-made pier where the Swimming Hall of Fame was to be built.  Upon completion the Trustees of the Internal Improvement Fund of the State of Florida dedicated the peninsula to the City of Fort Lauderdale on May 13, 1963, “for public municipal purposes only,” subject to the following provisions:

In the event the said CITY OF FORT LAUDERDALE shall (1) use said land for other than a site for the Swimming Hall of Fame or (2) for a period of three consecutive years shall fail and neglect to maintain and use the same for said purposes, the dedication hereby made shall, at the option of said Trustees, be subject to termination upon sixty days notice in writing by the Trustees to said City.

On November 23rd, 1964, the “Swimming Hall of Fame, Inc.” was incorporated as a non-profit educational corporation chartered under Florida law with a board of 19 directors. Eminent swimming coach, Dr. James E. Counsilman was the organization’s first president and William “Buck” Dawson was selected and approved by the Hall of Fame Administration Committee to be the first Executive Director. Correspondence shows that the Hall of Fame Administration Committee and the Swimming Hall of Fame, Inc. worked together amicably to resolve issues involving the pool designs, financing and the mutual understanding of jurisdiction and usage of the facilities before executing a formal agreement. On January 18th, 1965, the City of Fort Lauderdale and the Swimming Hall of Fame, Inc. executed a lease/operating agreement that remains in effect today, as amended in March of 1991.  It expires in 2015 and is renewable at the option of the parties for another fifty years.

The 50-meter pool, 25-yard diving well warm-up pool and all the appointments thereof, including the landfill seawall and landscaping for the peninsula were completed in August, 1965, at a cost of $986,000.  Additional land at the end of the peninsula and $195,000 were placed in escrow by the City for construction of the Hall of Fame building, contingent upon the Swimming Hall of Fame Corporation demonstrating its reliability in collecting the memorabilia, funding the exhibits to go into the building, and demonstrating the financial wherewithal to operate the shrine once built.

On December 27th, 1965, 4,500 spectators and swimmers from all fifty states and eleven foreign countries participated in and witnessed the dedication of the Swimming Hall of Fame complex and an international swimming meet organized by the Swimming Hall of Fame.  The events were televised nationally on the CBS Sports Spectacular.

The Hall of Fame Shrine Building  
Before construction on the Hall of Fame Shrine building began, both the City Commissioners and the Hall of Fame, Inc. agreed that the Hall of Fame should raise the sum of $195,000, matching the projected outside building cost. This was estimated to cover the cost of furnishing the interior of the building with world-class exhibits. By contract, it was the responsibility of the City to erect the building and the SHOF to build exhibits and operate the museum, but when it was learned that the $195,000 pledged by the City would not cover the cost of the Shrine building, the Hall of Fame, Inc. contributed to the City-owned building from its own fundraising efforts.  “The remarkable thing about these gifts,” said Robert Culliver, of the Hall of Fame Administration Committee, “is that more than $100,000 has gone directly into the City-owned building – not into the exhibits, but right into the bricks and mortar of the building itself.”

Official “international” status and recognition of the Swimming Hall of Fame came at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, when the 105-nation FINA Congress met and endorsed it as an “International Swimming Hall of Fame” – the first world recognized hall of fame in any sport.  That this institution is in the USA is particularly appropriate because the Hall of Fame idea originated in the United States with Baseball in the 1930’s, and because the United States’ greatest achievements in a widely international sport are in swimming.

The organization’s Articles of Incorporation were amended to reflect that the name was changed to “International Swimming Hall of Fame” on June 16, 1969. ISHOF also copyrighted its’ name and trademark.

The Buck Dawson Era: 1965 - 1985
In 1965 Broward County had the Casino Pool and three 25-yard competitive pools.  Not only did the Hall of Fame Pool become the finest swimming stadium on the east coast and one of the finest in the world, but it satisfied the demands of the local competitive swimming community. 

Under the operating agreement of 1965 and mutual understandings of that agreement, the City Parks and Recreation staffed and maintain the pools and ran programs for the local community. The role of the Hall of Fame was to promote tourism through the operation of the museum and to use its contacts within the aquatic community to bring in conferences, conventions and aquatic events to the city.   From the time of the opening of the Hall of Fame Complex through the mid 1980’s, Buck Dawson, the Swimming Hall of Fame, Inc., the American Swim Coaches Association and the College Swimming Coaches Association (which operated through the SHOF/ISHOF) were solely responsible for bidding on and/or bringing swimming events for the city, including the Annual International Swim meet, International Diving meet (now the ATT FINA Grand Prix), the World High Diving Championships, the Aquafollies, National Championships in Swimming, Diving, Synchronized Swimming and Water Polo, the Galt Ocean Mile Swim  (Now Ft. Lauderdale Rough Water Swim), the YMCA National Championships and National Masters Swimming Championships. In addition, Dawson was a tireless promoter who brought many national and international conventions to the city. 

After the initial fundraising drive that helped build the Shrine building, the Hall of Fame struggled financially, until Dawson came upon the idea of “Swim-A-Thon.”  The SAT stabilized ISHOF’s finances and by the time Dawson retired in 1985, ISHOF had accumulated a $1.4 million reserve fund.

The economic impact that the Hall of Fame brought to Fort Lauderdale, estimated to be $20 million dollars per year by 1985, encouraged other cities to build world-class aquatic venues to compete with Fort Lauderdale for events.  In many cases, the new facilities conformed to modern safety and competition standards, while the Hall of Fame did not.  

Improvements: 1986 – 1991
In 1986, both the City of Fort Lauderdale and the International Swimming Hall of Fame recognized the need for improvements and the two entities collaborated on a fundraising plan that targeted both public and private sources.  The City initiated a $1.18 million dollar Government Obligation Bond and a $600K allocation from Broward County. With support of local politicians, Olympians and local business leaders, the Hall of Fame initiated a lobbying effort in Tallahassee that resulted in two grants of $2 million dollars each and $500K from corporate and private sources. Funded projects included building a second 50-meter pool, bringing the stadium pool and diving pool to national and international standards, building a teaching pool, renovating the bath and locker rooms, resurfacing the deck, renovating the bleachers, replacing filtration and pumping systems and expanding the Hall of Fame museum. 
The contract with the design consultant, Arquitectonica International, was a three party agreement, naming the City of Fort Lauderdale, International Swimming Hall of Fame, Inc. and the design firm. Correspondence shows that the International Swimming Hall of Fame was present at every meeting, participated in all decisions related to the renovations and was copied on all correspondence.

The first meet to be conducted in the new facility was the USA Swimming National Championship in August of 1991. Two world records were set in the newly renovated pool. 

Half a Century in Florida, August Burghard, Manatee, Miami, Florida, U.S.A., 1982, p. 41 (It was located at the present site of Alexander Park.)

ibid., p. 44 – 47.

ibid., p. 42

ibid., p. 43

Federacion Internationale de Natation Amateur, the governing body overseeing the Olympic aquatic sports

Swimming World Magazine, Swimming Hall of Fame Issue, vol. 10, No. 6, June, 1969 pp. 6 – 9, 53

Op. Cit., Half a Century in Florida, p. 48. See also, Miami Herald, December 31, 1961, and Fort Lauderdale News, December 31, 1961.

Minutes of an Adjourned Regular Meeting of the City Commission of Fort Lauderdale, November 9, 1962.

Ibid., p. 1. Resolution No. 8687. 

“Swim Hall $$ OK’d By City,” Fort Lauderdale News, November 9, 1962, p. 3C 

“City Lands Swim Hall of Fame over Louisville, Houston Bids,” Fort Lauderdale News, November 30, 1962, D1. See also, Minutes of the 75th AAU General Assembly, pp. 13, 42.

Letter from Mayor Burry to Buck Dawson, Chairman of the Hall of Fame Committee, November 27, 1962

Letter from Robert Culliver to National AAU Committee for Swimming Hall of Fame, November 26, 1962

Trustees of the Internal Improvement Fund of the State of Florida No. 23366 (1292-06)

Op. Cit., Minutes of November 9, 1962. See also, Memorandum to the Swimming Hall of Fame Correspondences of Judge G. Harold Martin, December, 1964; Memorandum to City Manager and City Commission from Buck Dawson, January 28, 1965; and, Memorandum to Mayor Burry from Buck Dawson, October 13, 1965

Swimming Hall of Fame Pool Dedication Souvenir Program, 1965, pp. 10 – 12.

Swimming Pool Age, Volume 39, Number 12, December 1965

City of Fort Lauderdale Resolution No. 66-3, Adopted January 4, 1966

Op. Cit., Hall of Fame Dedication Souvenir Program, p. 11

“Outsiders Subscribe More than $100,000 to Fort Lauderdale Building,” ISHOF press release, circa June 11, 1969


Op. Cit., Swimming World Magazine, June 1969, p. 9

Op. Cit., Memorandum to Mayor Burry from Buck Dawson, October 13, 1965

Agreement of November 9, 1987

Letter from Don DeBolt, ISHOF Executive Director, to John Sacco, Arquitectonica, November 11, 1988

letter from City to Arquitectonia, October 23, 1987

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