Iconic ISHOF Swimmer Statue Moved for Construction; History of the Statue

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The iconic and beloved swimmer statue that has stood on the grounds of the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) since 1973 is being moved to a temporary location during the demolition of the existing pools at the aquatic complex and construction of new ones. The statue was created by artist Don Seiler and commissioned by the local Leo Goodwin Foundation in honor of the achievements of Mark Spitz at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games.

Background of the ISHOF Swimmer Statue

This is the second of two giant concrete sculptures by Miami artist Don Seiler representing swimmers at the ISHOF.  The first was on display at the entrance to the Hall of Fame Pool along Seabreeze Blvd. when the Pool opened in 1965. It had been placed there by Seiler, with the agreement of the ISHOF, in the hopes that Seiler could sell it for $3,000. It was given a temporary name of “Don John Murray Buster Kahanamoku II” until a contest sponsored by Swimming World Magazine came up with a permanent name.  But after 18 months, Seiler decided to take it back saying nobody bought it because it looked like it belonged there.

Buck Dawson, Founding Executive Director of the International Swimming Hall of Fame (1964), wanted the statue permanently at the museum, but ISHOF didn’t have the money.  He came up with a fundraising plan to buy it back by through the collection of S & H Green Stamps.  Unfortunately, the plan wasn’t successful.

After Mark Spitz won seven gold medals at the Munich Games, Dawson approached a local Ft. Lauderdale organization, the Leo Goodwin Foundation, about sponsoring a new Seiler Statue in honor of Spitz’ achievement.  Goodwin, who had served with Dawson in the 82nd Airborne unit in WWII, agreed.  As a result, this swimmer statue was commissioned and installed at ISHOF in 1973.

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Photo Courtesy: International Swimming Hall Of Fame (Mark Spitz in front of ISHOF)

Statue Relocation by Hensel Phelps

See the video of the statue being relocated:

 

When this video was posted on the ISHOF Facebook page, followers expressed kind words about the statue:

ishof-swimmer-statue-facebook-responses

 

One fan even posted a picture of herself back in the day…

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Photo Courtesy: Amy Lingg

 

The swimmer statue will be refurbished and restored to its original condition to stand in front of the ISHOF museum ready for the debut of the new Aquatic Center in October 2020.

If you have your own photo of the “Swimmer Statue” post it on social and tag @ISHOF (Facebook, Twitter) and @ISHOF_Museum (Instagram).