The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, is the mecca and international showplace for swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming. The Museum, Library and Archive contain the world’s largest collection of aquatic memorabilia and the single largest source of aquatic books, manuscripts and literature.
As Olympic swimmer and Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller said at the Hall of Fame’s inaugural in 1965, “I am happy and honored to be recognized among swimming’s elite athletes. It is here where I will keep my swimming memorabilia, tell stories of my days in swimming and the movies and offer my services towards the pursuit of helping each youngster pursue their dreams.” Johnny did this until his death in 1984, but at the Hall of Fame, his spirit continues to live to inspire the youth of today and to serve as a model for which young athletes can strive.
Located on the ocean side of the complex, the International Swimming Hall of Fame Museum and Exhibition Hall, an elevated wave-shaped building occupying over 7,500 square feet, adorns the entrance to the Hall of Fame Aquatic complex. Over 40 exhibits and displays illustrate the history of aquatic sports by recognizing both the world’s greatest swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming performers and the great moments in which they participated.
The displays are designed not only to highlight the achievements of the great athletes but also to keep alive their memories. Johnny Weissmuller’s Olympic medals are a part of the world’s largest collection of aquatic Olympic medals, pins, badges, diplomas and certificates. Mark Spitz’s starting block used to win six of his seven 1972 Olympic gold medals is on view as are over 60 Olympic, national and club uniforms, warm ups and swim suits. The first automatic timing machine to determine the results of close races can be seen along with the modern system used today. The visitor may play the role of both the starter and timer in a hands-on tribute to timing automation.
There are tributes to American Presidents who were swimmers, including Ronald Reagan, who in addition to captaining his college swim team is credited with saving 77 lives as a lifeguard in his hometown of Dixon, Illinois. John F. Kennedy was on the first Harvard swim team to beat Yale.
The Huizenga Theater, a fully automated video experience, allows visitors to select a variety of programs ranging from short informational pieces on water safety, Hall of Fame inductees and the Hall of Fame, to coverage of the Olympic Games. Other films such as “Million Dollar Mermaid” with Esther Williams and “Tarzan the Ape Man” with Johnny Weissmuller, may be viewed upon request.
As the world wide focal point for swimming, ISHOF advances educational programs on water safety, good health and fitness by offering education, training and guidance. Interactive computers and over 2,000 display photographs offer the visitor the occasion to access a considerable amount of information regarding aquatics.
Located on the IntraCoastal Waterway side of the complex, the two story, original hall of Fame building contains 7,000 square feet housing the Tripp Family Art Gallery, Henning Library and Archives, John E. duPont Panorama Celebrity Room and administrative offices. Sculpture and art work of LeRoy Neiman, Norman Rockwell, Ken Danby, Joseph Brown, R. Tait McKenzie and Odouardo Tabbacchi adorn the building and offer an eyeful of beauty, grace, intricacy and realism. Much of the sculpture, commissioned by the Kalos Kagathos Foundation of Laguna Beach, California, represent national and international awards presented by organizations such as FINA, AAU, High School and College Coaches, South American Swimming and the Swedish Swim Federation. The Library and Archives contains the world’s largest collection of aquatic books and papers.
Sandwiched between the two Hall of Fame exhibition buildings, the ISHOF Aquatic Complex is the only one of its kind in the world that offers two 50m pools, a diving well and swimming flume.
The International Swimming Hall of Fame is located just one block south of Las Olas Blvd. on A1A.