BOURNEMOUTH, England, September 26. OPEN water swimming legend Willy van Rysel, who hailed from The Netherlands but spent her final years in the United Kingdom, passed away on September 19.
Van Rysel is one of the few people to earn induction into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (in 2002) and the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame (in 2008). She became the subject of admiration for completing major open water swims at a time when few women dared to attempt them. She broke records on many of her swims in the 1960s and 1970s, earning the coveted Davids Wheeler Memorial Trophy in 1972, the first woman to do so.
In the pool, Van Rysel fought for a British Masters national championship, a dream that was realized in 1987. She set more than 40 Masters world records and was ranked No. 1 in various age groups in more than 70 events.
Van Rysel's name still exists in the FINA Masters world record books, as the short course world record holder in the 50 backstroke in the 90-04 age group with a 1:05.70, and in the 200 long course backstroke with a 5:17.36.