Cirque du Soleil to Receive Gold Medallion Award from the International Swimming Hall of Fame

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., March 24. THE world-renowned Cirque du Soleil will be the recipient of this year’s Gold Medallion Award, presented by the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF).

The prestigious award will be presented in Fort Lauderdale on May 8 at the Hall of Fame's annual awards and induction ceremony. This year marks ISHOF’S 40th anniversary and a gala celebration is planned, featuring many of the aquatic greats who have been immortalized in the Hall of Fame.

The Gold Medallion Award is presented each year to a former swimmer for his or her nationally- or internationally significant achievements in the field of science, entertainment, art, business, education, or government.

This is the first time the award has been given to an organization.

Past award recipients include: President Ronald Reagan (1988), Senator Barry Goldwater (1983), entertainer Art Linkletter (1984), TV sports commentator Donna DeVarona (1991), Mayor Andrew Young (1992), Senator Paul Tsongas (1993), actor Buddy Ebsen (1996), TV producer Greg Bonann (2000), and Canadian Richard Pound, head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (2002).

Beyond circus, beyond theatre, Cirque du Soleil created an entirely original form of live entertainment with “O”, which premiered in 1998 at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. With an international cast of 85 artists, the show is performed in, on and above water. Inspired by the concept of infinity and the elegance of its pure form, “O”, phonetically speaking is the French word for water (spelled “eau”).

Cirque du Soleil’s first venture into aquatic theater has been seen by nearly four million spectators and has earned the acclaim of journalists from around the world. “O” is a spectacular feat of imagination and engineering. The 1.5 million-gallon pool is 25 feet deep and measures 150-by-100 feet. Three years of intense study and testing resulted in a one-of-a-kind aquatic environment.

“O” Assistant Artistic Coordinator Sylvie Frechette, a Canadian Olympic gold medalist in synchronized swimming, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003, and US synchro swimmer and “O” artist Becky Dyroen-Lancer, a 1996 Olympic gold medalisr, is among this year’s inductees.

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