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Joe Grossman Brings Alive Marathon Swimming’s Past

Joe Grossman Brings Alive Marathon Swimming’s Past

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

In order to preserve marathon swimming history, International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and International Swimming Hall of Fame dual inductee Dale Petranech has kept alive his dream of publishing the personal files of World Professional Marathon Swimming Association administrator, Joe Grossman.

Joe passed away in 1974, but Dale faithfully maintained a huge stack of type-written pages from Joe for several decades.

The public information officer traveled around the world with a passion and a unique perspective of the individuals involved in the sport of channel swimming and professional marathon swimming and single-handedly and comprehensively compiled hundreds of pages of notes, observations, recollections and data from solo swims and competitions in numerous bodies of water around the globe,” says Steven Munatones.

Dale worked with editor Steve Walker to organize and edit these memorandums on carefully typed-out pages – written in the era before the laptop and the Internet. Their work – based on Joe’s first-hand work on shores and escort boats around the world – captures slices of history that were previously only known to the athletes, race directors, and escort pilots of long-gone generations.

Joe had undisputedly cemented his legacy on the sport through his work with the World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation, but his newly published book, A History of Marathon Swimming – has emerged 43 years after his death. It is an invaluable treasure because it lays out the actions and achievements of the athletes, describes the backgrounds and battles of famous competitions, and explains the historical trends that shaped the sport throughout the bulk of the 20th century.”

The 536-page book covers races and swimmers, promoters and pilots from 1875 to 1974.

Ned Denison, chairman of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, describes the book. “If you love stories about the earlier days of open water swimming – you will love this book. The stars you have previous heard about come to life – warts and all. I have a fair few such books but this is easily in my top three.”

The book includes chapters on Matthew Webb, Gertrude Ederle, William Wrigley’s unprecedented Catalina Channel race in 1927, solo swims across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Billy Butlin‘s English Channel races, the Canadian National Exhibition events, and many other events and accomplishments achieved by the fastest, toughest and most prolific swimmers at many of the sport’s most famous events and venues. His thorough research and first-person recollections could only be compiled by someone who was present and knowledgeable of the athletes and sport.

For more information and to purchase A History of Marathon Swimming on Amazon, visit here.

Joe Grossman is shown above applying channel grease to Greta Andersen before an English Channel crossing in the 1950’s.

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