Irving Davids/Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award

2012 Drury Gallagher


Drury Gallagher is a visionary who restarted the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, one of the world’s most iconic marathon swims. Due to his hard work in the 1980’s and early ‘90’s, New York City is now a dynamic hotbed of marathon swimming, world renowned for its Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. He founded the Manhattan Island Swimming Association that will be his legacy as a memorial to his son, Drury, Jr. who died in a tragic accident in 1981. He is a founding member of the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association in California and the Kingdom Swim in Vermont, and is on the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim Committee.


Drury and his seven brothers and sisters were raised in the beach front community of Rockaway Beach, which is on the western end of Long Island. His parents made sure that they all learned to swim at an early age. Their teacher was a legend in the swimming world, sometimes referred to as Father Neptune, Joseph A Ruddy. Joe was a 1904 Olympian and is an Honor Swimmer and Water Polo Member of ISHOF. He taught a generation of youngsters to swim in the 1940’s and ’50’s. Joe also taught the art of riding waves and body-surfing as well as a love for the sport of swimming.


As a youngster, Drury would spend three or four hours a day swimming and riding waves. Little did he know that he would be building endurance and stamina for a swimming career. During his freshman year in high school he was a member of the varsity swim team and by his senior year, he was named outstanding athlete of the school. In 1956, Drury accepted a swimming scholarship at Fordham University and was an outstanding all-around swimmer in the Northeast region. He also competed off-season for New York Athletic Club in the AAU program. He received All American honors during his college career and was also voted the outstanding athlete at Fordham. Several years later he was inducted into Fordham’s Hall of Fame.


As a Masters swimmer, Gallagher is considered one of the most versatile swimmers in the U.S. and internationally. To date, he has broken FINA Master’s world records from the 50 meter breaststroke to the 1500 meter freestyle. He has set FINA Master’s world records in butterfly, breaststroke, freestyle and individual medley events. Drury has won 101 national and international titles in all strokes as well as the individual medley and has set 27 FINA Masters world records.


2012 marks the 32nd Anniversary of the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. Drury completed the 28.5 mile swim in 1982 and 1983 setting unofficial records both times. The Manhattan Island Foundation is responsible for supporting the learn to swim program for New York City children as well as cleaning up the waters around the island of Manhattan.


He is inducted in the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame and the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honour Administrator.


Drury is currently the Chairman and CEO of Global Gold Corporation, a publicly traded international mining, exploration and development company located in Greenwich, Connecticut. As he enters his senior years, Drury hopes to give back to the sport by teaching youngsters the art and love of swimming as his teacher and mentor, Joe Ruddy, had done.

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