ISHOF Announces Spectacular Class of 2023; Michael Phelps and Bob Bowman Among Honorees
The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) is proud to announce its prestigious Class of 2023. This year, ISHOF will induct 13 honorees from eight countries: five swimmers, two coaches, one diver, one water polo player, one synchronized swimmer, one open water swimmer, one contributor and its first Paralympian. The induction event will be held Saturday, September 30, 2023 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
This year’s International Swimming Hall of Fame honorees include:
HONOR SWIMMERS: Michael Phelps (USA), Kosuke Kitajima (JPN), Cesar Cielo (BRA), Missy Franklin (USA) and Kristy Coventry (ZIM); HONOR DIVER: Wu Minxia (CHN); HONOR SYNCHRONIZED (ARTISTIC) SWIMMER: Natalia Ischenko (RUS); HONOR WATER POLO: Heather Petri (USA); HONOR OPEN WATER SWIMMER: Stèphane LeCat (FRA); HONOR COACH: Bob Bowman (USA) and Chris Carver (USA); HONOR CONTRIBUTORS: Sam Ramsamy (RSA) and PARALYMPIAN: Trischa Zorn (USA).
Michael Phelps (USA) is the greatest swimmer to ever grace the pool. It would be hard to imagine that anyone will ever come close to accomplishing even half of what he managed in his Olympic career. During his swimming career, Michael swam in five Olympic Games (2000-2016), won a total of 28 Olympic medals, 23 of which were gold, three silver and two bronze. The beauty of Michael’s career was that he was so versatile. He could swim any stroke. Michael set 39 world records in his record-breaking career. He will go down in history as one of the greatest athletes of all time.
Kirsty Coventry (ZIM) is the most decorated Olympian from the continent of Africa. And not just in swimming, in ALL sports. She and Kristina Egerszegi are tied for having won the most individual Olympic medals in women’s swimming. She has competed in five Olympic Games, from 2000-2016, and she won all but one of Zimbabwe’s Olympic medals. In total, she won two gold, four silver and one bronze Olympic medals, all individual. She is a four-time world champion, and five-time world-record holder. She is a 22-time medalist at her native All-Africa Games, 14 of which were gold. And to show her versatility, the events ran from the 50 to 800m freestyle, to the breaststroke events, IM and her signature backstroke events. Like Phelps, she could swim it all.
Kosuke Kitajima (JPN) is a Japanese swimmer who broke seven world records in his career, specializing in the breaststroke. In his first Olympic Games in 2004, he captured gold medals in the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke and a bronze, swimming the breaststroke leg of the 4 x 100 medley relay representing his homeland. During the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, he pulled off a repeat of the 2004 Games, winning the gold medal in the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke, while also breaking the world record in the 100, in a time of 58.91. By winning back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2008, Kitajima became the first and only swimmer to win the breaststroke events at back-to-back Olympic Games. He and his team again won the bronze in 2008 in the medley relay. In 2012, Kitajima and the relay team bettered it in London by winning silver. In the end, Kitajima won four gold, one silver and two bronze medals in Olympic competition.
Missy Franklin (USA) became America’s darling at her Olympic debut in London at the 2012 Summer Games at the age of 17. She is a two-time Olympian, and five-time Olympic gold medalist, who specialized in the backstroke events. She is a four-time world record holder, two in the 200-meter backstroke, both long and short course, and also in the 4×100-meter medley relay, also in the long and short course. Missy brought home a total of five Olympic medals for the USA, four of which were gold. In 2012, she swept the women’s backstroke events, capturing gold in both the 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke. She also won two more gold in London in the 4 x 200m freestyle relay and the 4 x 100 medley relay. At those Games, she and her teammates won bronze in the 4 x 100 freestyle relay. In Missy’s second Games, she left Rio with another gold medal to add to her resume in the 4 x 200 freestyle relay. In total, she has won 28 medals in international competition: 17 gold, six silver, and five bronze, combining her participation at the Olympic Games, the FINA World Championships, both long and short course, and the Pan Pacific Championships. Her 11 gold medals at the World Championships set a record in women’s swimming until an up and comer, named Katie Ledecky broke it in 2017.
Cesar Cielo (BRA) was a Brazilian swimmer who specialized in the sprint events. He is considered the most successful Brazilian swimmer in history, having won three Olympic medals: Gold in the 50-meter freestyle in 2008, as well as a bronze in the 100 freestyle and a second bronze in 2012 in London in the 50m freestyle. Cielo is also a six-time world champion and broke two world records. His 50-freestyle world record of 20.91 has lasted an astounding 15 years, broken Dec. 18, 2009. His second world record (46.91 in the 100 freestyle) endured almost as long and was just broken last summer (August 13, 2022). Cielo’s gold medal at the Beijing Olympic Games in the 50m freestyle is Brazil’s only Olympic gold medal in swimming to date. Cielo was the first man to swim under 47 seconds in the 100-meter freestyle and the first man under 41 seconds in the 100-yard freestyle. He was also a six-time national champion at Auburn University.
Wu Minxia (CHN) is a diver from China, specializing in the 1- and 3-meter springboard events, as well as the 3-meter synchronized events. She represented China at every Asian Games, FINA World Championships and Olympic Games beginning in 2001 through 2016. She is an eight-time world champion, and a five-time Olympic and Asian Champion, making her one of the most decorated divers in Chinese history. In the 3-meter synchro event, she was originally partnered with Guo Jingjing in 2001, where she won her first world title. She would go on to win on three more occasions with Jingjing. After Jingjing retired, Wu partnered with He Zi and continued winning. At the 2012 Olympic Games, Wu won the gold in the synchro event, becoming the first woman to win gold in a diving event in three consecutive Olympic Games. No one has won more gold medals in the 3-meter synchronized springboard diving event than Wu Minxia.
Honor Water Polo Player
Heather Petri (USA) stands tall right alongside Brenda Villa as one of the most decorated women’s water polo players of all time. She has four Olympic medals, one gold (2012), two silver (2008, 2000) and one bronze (2004). She has three World Championships titles (2009, 2007, 2003) and one silver medal (2005). She scored four goals on the way to a gold medal and an Olympic berth at the 2011 Pan American Games. She won gold as well in the two other Pan Am Games that she competed in (2003, 2007). She scored the USA’s gold medals win over Canada at the 2003 Pan Am’s to qualify for the 2004 Olympic Games. She was part of the first Olympic Games to offer water polo in 2000, and she and her USA teammates took silver.
Honor Synchronized Swimmer (Artistic Swimming)
Natalia Ischenko (RUS) was the first Russian to win solo, duet, and the team event at a single World Championships. She was honored by FINA as the Synchronized Swimmer of the Year 2010-2012. She is a five-time Olympic Champion, and 19-time world champion. In 2008, at her first Olympic Games in Beijing, she won gold in the team event. In 2012, in London at her second Games, she took gold in Team and Duet and in her third and final Games, she again took gold in Team and Duet. Her 19 World Championships wins began in 2005 and her career ended in Kazan in 2015. She also has two silver medals, one from 2005 from a solo event and the other from 2007 from the solo free routine. She retired in April of 2017 and since then, Natalia has served as Vice Minister of Sports Kaliningrad Oblast.
Honor Open Water Swimmer
Stéphane Lecat (FRA) was the premier professional marathon swimmer in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He was the FINA World Cup Series Champion in 1997, 1999 and 2000. He won the bronze medal in the 25k at the 2011 FINA World Championships. He competed at the European Championships in the 25k event three times, winning a medal each time. In 2000 he won gold, in 1997 he took silver, and in 1995 it was bronze. At the Mediterranean Championships in 1997, he won gold in the 15k event. He swam the English Channel in 2003 in a time of 8 hours and 19 minutes, and he was a 10-time national champion. He was inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 2018. In addition, that same year, he was awarded the Irving Davids/Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award by ISHOF for his contribution to the administration of the French Open Water National Swimming Team/Program in 2018, and he was awarded “Glory of Sport” by the French Olympic Committee in 2022.
Bob Bowman (USA) is best known as the coach of 23-time Olympic gold medalist, U.S. Swimmer, Michael Phelps. He is currently the head coach at Arizona State University, whose men’s team just won the Pac-12 Conference championship for the first time in history. He was the 2016 U.S. Men’s Head Olympic Swimming Coach in Rio. Bowman has served as an assistant Olympic Coach in 2004, 2008 and 2012. He was just recently named the U.S. Men’s Head Coach for the 2023 World Aquatics (formerly FINA) Championships in Fukuoka, Japan. He served as head coach at the University of Michigan, and prior to that, he spent a significant part of his career at North Baltimore Aquatic Club, where he began coaching five-time Olympian and 28-time Olympic medalist, Michael Phelps, who began swimming with Bob as an age group swimmer. Bowman is the author of best-selling book, The Golden Rules: 10 Steps to World Class Excellence in Your Life and Work (2016).
Chris Carver (USA) is a ground-breaking synchronized swimming choreographer and coach of the world renown Santa Clara Aquamaids. As the co-head coach of the U.S. National Team, the team won every gold medal in elite international competition between the 1991 Pan Am Games and 1996 Olympic Games. With four of her club swimmers on the 1996 Olympic team, Carver choreographed the USA Team to win the Olympics’ first gold in the team event, earning the first perfect 100 score in Olympic history. Seven of the nine members of the 2000 US Olympic Team were Carver’s own swimmers, as were eight of the nine in 2004, including Alison Bartosik and Anna Kozlova, who won bronze medals in duet. She has produced more than 50% of the USA’s Synchronized Swimming Olympians since 1984. In an era when the USA was Sychro’s world leader, Carver was named Coach of the Year by U.S. Synchronized Swimming 14 consecutive times and her Santa Clara Aquamaids have won 14 U.S. National Team championships since 1985.
Sambasivan RAMSAMY (RSA) was the founding member of the South African Council for Sport, established in 1973. In 1976, he became Chairperson of the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee (Sanroc). In 1976, Ramsamy petitioned countries to formalize a boycott of South African Sports, which culminated in the Gleneagles Agreement of 1977. During the transition to democracy, he encouraged international support for the black sports body, the National Olympic Committee of South Africa and became its head in 1991. He led the first non-racial South African team to the Olympic Games in 1992 Barcelona. Ramsamy has spent most of his adult life fighting for the eradication of the color bar in sport and toward creating unity in the sporting arena where selection for teams is based on merit and where athletes of all races are given an equal chance to participate. Ramsamy was first elected to the FINA Bureau as a member in 1996. He is currently FINA’s first Vice President, since May 2021, after serving many years as Second Vice-President (2017-2021), Vice President (2004-2017), and Bureau Member (1996-2004). He has more than 60 years’ experience in sport and was himself an athlete in several sports including football and swimming.
Trischa Zorn (USA) is an American Paralympic swimmer who has been blind from birth. She is the most successful athlete in the history of the Paralympic Games. She swims all events and the first Paralympic Games she competed in was in 1980, Arnhem, where she brought home seven gold medals. She has competed in seven Paralympic Games, winning a total of 55 medals, 41 of them gold. At the 1996 Games in Atlanta, she won more medals than any other athlete: two gold, three silver and three bronze. She also topped the individual medal table at the 1992 Paralympic Games with 10 gold medals and two silver. She held world records in eight events in her disability category (50m backstroke, 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke, 200m IM, 400m IM, 200m breaststroke, 4 x 50m medley relay, 4 x 50 free relay). Zorn was inducted into the International Paralympian Hall of Fame in 2012.
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contact: Meg Keller-Marvin
Honoree & Olympian Liaison
International Swimming Hall of Fame
One Hall of Fame DriveFt. Lauderdale, FL 33316