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Melissa Cunningham Roberts Honored with the IMSHOF Dale Petranech Award

Ned Denison, chairperson of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, announced Melissa Cunningham Roberts as the eighth recipient of the Dale Petranech Award for Services to the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.

The award will be presented to Melissa at the IMSHOF Induction and Award Ceremony in Cancun, Mexico on May 18th 2024.

Steven Munatones summed up what everyone in the community knows about the Australian marathon swimming star, “She has given innumerable hours of selfless work and dedication to the sport. She was a world champion (25 km) as an athlete; she followed her world title with continued success in the field of business.

Despite all her activities and accolades on dryland, her passion for the sport of open water swimming never waned. She served as the race announcer at the 2008 Beijing Olympics marathon swim and served in all kinds of other essential roles in the sport . If there was a task to be done, Melissa was always there to get it done.”

Denison reiterates her dedication, “In 2017, Melissa joined the Executive Committe of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. She brought a fresh perspective to the Committee as a successful businesswoman, a 25 km FINA world champion, a FINA committee representative, and swim federation organizer.

Later, Melissa took responsibility for and delivered in three key areas:

  • better gender balance
  • Election Chairperson
  • IMSHOF ceremony videos

IMSHOF’s professionalism increased dramatically in each area.

In 2019, she organized the first IMSHOF Induction and Awards Ceremony in the Asia Pacific held in Melbourne, Australia. The event was a huge success and helped IMSHOF’s drive to be a truly international organization.

As a committee member, Melissa consistently examined issues from all angles. Numerous times she made a comment or asked a question that compelled the Executive Committee to rethink a proposal. Because of her commitment and dedication, IMSHOF is in a much better place.”

The Dale Petranech Award for Services was created in 2016 to honor Dale Petranech for decades of service to the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. Petranech is a dual inductee in both the IMSHOF and the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Contributor. As a marathon swimmer, Petranech previously held the record as the oldest solo swimmer across the Catalina Channel in California. He served for nearly 50 years in various capacities at all levels of the sport – local, regional national and international.


2016: Dale Petranech (USA)
2017: no award presented
2018: Herman Willemse (Netherlands)
2019: Chris Guesdon (Australia)
2020: Beth Yudovin (USA)
2021: Commander Charles Gerald Forsberg OBE, RN (Rtd.) (UK)
2022: Steven Munatones (USA)
2023: David Yudovin (USA)
2024: Melissa Cunningham Roberts (Australia)

© 2023 Daily News of Open Water Swimming

to educate, enthuse, and entertain all those who venture beyond the shoreline

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