Long-standing President of the ILDSA, inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honour Administrator in 1999.
Dual Honour Swimmer – International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (1977) and International Swimming Hall of Fame (2010). “King of the North Channel” after 3 successful crossings in 1970, 1971 and 1989. One of only two people to complete the “Original Triple Crown” of English Channel, North Channel and Bristol Channel.
Honour Swimmer, Hall of Fame – Marathon Swimming Ireland (2019). First Irish woman to swim the English Channel and Cook Strait.
Cmmr. Gerald Forsberg OBE
Swimmer, administrator, navigator, author. Dual inductee – Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (1965) and Pioneer Contributor, the International Swimming Hall of Fame (1998)
In crossing the English Channel in 1987 Peter Legge became only the second person from Ireland to do so, and in 1990 he was a member of the first relay team to cross the North Channel. Prominent in the Newry Swimming Club and active in charity work with the Newry Lions, organising the Lions sponsored swim in schools and raising many tens of thousands of pounds for local charities.
Davy (Dinger) Bell was one of the early members of the ILDSA and took part in a lot of swims. He was a slow swimmer but was as tough as nails. He was the first Irish man to swim the reputedly very cold Bala Lake in Wales ( 3-miles). He also served a number of years as President and a great supporter of the ILDSA up until his death some years ago.
Swimmer and administrator. Honour Swimmer, International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (1970). First woman to swim the English Channel in both directions (England-France in 1958, France-England in 1961).
Pádraig MallonILDSA Chairperson
ILDSA member (1999 – current). Chairperson of ILDSA. Marathon Swimmer and Ice Swimmer, Triathlete, Event Organiser, Administrator, Swim Coach. WOWSA World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year (2014). Swam both the North Channel and English Channel within 6 weeks of each other (2014). North Channel Escort Pilot with infinity Channel Swimming (2014 – current). Ireland Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Administrator Class of 2020
Marathon swimmer and long-standing member and administrator in the British Long Distance Swimming Association. Among the first to apply for membership of the ILDSA upon its formation in 1966. She is also the namesake for the ILDSA’s Margaret Smith Award, an annual award given to an individual for his or her contributions to the sport of open water swimming.
Joe and Philippa Gunn
Joe and Philippa Gunn were active members of the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association for over 27 years, from 1979 until 2007 when they emigrated to New Zealand. Between them they performed every role on the ILDSA committee from Secretary to President. They observed on more than 50 North Channel attempts, with many relay teams and solo swimmers staying in their home in Orlock.
Alongside Billy Wallace and Dermot Duffy they were part of the pioneering committee who created the 17k Irish Championship event in Enniskillen. They personally navigated multiple different routes through Lough Erne before deciding on the current route as the best and safest for swimmers. They subsequently ran the event for many years, growing the swim year on year and attracting worldwide interest and participation in the event.
They ran the Copeland Island swim which many entered just for the bbq at their home after. Even when their children Grainne and Conor were no longer at Irish swims they continued to be at all ILDSA swims, encouraging, supporting and helping every swimmer with words of advice, a warm drink or just a hug depending on what was needed!
Marathon swimmer, event organizer, motivator. “The Godfather of Irish Channel swimming”. Honour Swimmer, Hall of Fame – Marathon Swimming Ireland (2018). Prolific career including English Channel, Strait of Gibraltar, and Manhattan Island Marathon Swim; first Irishman to complete the Rottnest Channel Swim.
Honour Swimmer, International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (1984). One of only two people to hold “the Original Triple Crown” of English Channel, North Channel and Bristol Channel. Namesake of the ILDSA’s Ted Keenan Ulster Open Water Swimmer of the Year – given annually to the swimmer from Ulster who has best represented open water swimming.
Marathon/ice swimmer, pioneer, event organizer, and motivator. Inducted into International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (IMSHOF) as an Honour Administrator (2012). Co-founder of the Hall of Fame – Marathon Swimming Ireland
Marathon swimmer, administrator, athlete in many fields. Honour Swimmer, Hall of Fame – Marathon Swimming Ireland (2018). Pioneer of many swims in Irish waters (including the first man to complete the Rathlin Sound swim, 1959) and abroad (first Irishman to cross the Strait of Gibraltar, 1961).
Honour Swimmer, Hall of Fame – Marathon Swimming Ireland (2020). Winner (10 times in a row) of the 17 km men’s Irish Open Water Swimming Championships. English Channel 1994 – fastest crossing of the year.
Willy Van Rysel
Swimmer and motivator. Dual Honour Swimmer in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (2002) and International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame (2008)
Brian Meharg MBE
Boatman and escort pilot of the North Channel since 1962 (between 1989 and 2009, the only pilot active on this Channel). Honour Contributor (Pilot), Hall of Fame – Marathon Swimming Ireland (2018)
Geoffrey first came into the ILDSA as a swimmer, he was very strong and fast and was well placed in most swims, including the Lough Erne 17 Km Championship. He also organised the Championship in 2012/2013, as well as the Portrush and Carrickfergus events on one or two occasions and was very enthusiast about the sport and the ILDSA.
Pioneer of Irish open-water swimming in the 1960s, and inspiration for many to follow. An active organiser in the ILDSA and key in raising awareness of the sport in the Republic of Ireland. Achieved success in Irish waters (Lower Lough Derg in 1963, Galway Bay and Dublin Bay in 1968; in 1969 the first to swim the 16 km from Cork to Cobh) and in the UK (BLDSA Torbay swim in 1964, Windermere International Championship in 1966, BLDSA Windermere race in 1969). Inducted into the Ireland Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 2021 as an Honour Swimmer.