ISHOF Class of 2014: Honor Coaches Jozsef Nagy and Charlotte Davis


Because of the Covid-19 Pandemic and the postponement of the International Swimming Hall of Fame Induction Class of 2020, ISHOF will be reliving some of their previous induction classes.  Today we revisit our Honor Coaches from the ISHOF Class of 2014.  That year a total of twenty honorees were inducted; seven of which were open water swimmers.  In addition to the seven open water swimmers, there were three pool swimmers, Grant Hackett (AUS), Agnes Kovacs (HUN), Tom Malchow (USA), one diver, Peng Bo (CHN), two synchronized swimmers, Penny and Vicky Vilagos, (CAN), two water polo players, one male and one female, Carlo Silipo (ITA), and Karen Kuipers (NED), two coaches, one male and one female, Joseph Nagy (HUN, USA, CAN, ESP)(Swimming) and Charlotte Davis (USA) (Synchronized Swimming), and two Honor Contributors, Dale Petranech (USA) and Norman Sarsfield (GBR)




Show how special you are and become a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame’s “One In A Thousand” Club.  Help keep the International Swimming Hall of Fame moving forward toward a new vision and museum by joining now!

2014 Honor Coaches:

Nagy, Jozsef

Photo Courtesy: ISHOF

Jozsef Nagy (HUN, USA, CAN, ESP)

FOR THE RECORD: 1980 OLYMPIC GAMES: Assistant Coach (HUN); 1984 OLYMPIC GAMES: Assistant Coach (HUN)1988 OLYM-PIC GAMES: Unofficial Coach (USA); Coach of 1990 European Record Holder, Sergio Lopez; 1992 OLYMPIC GAMES: Coach of 200m breast-stroke gold medalist, Mike Barrowman, Assistant Coach (SPN); 2008 OLYMPIC GAMES: Assistant Coach (CAN); 2012 OLYMPIC GAMES: As-sistant Coach (CAN); 1991 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: Assistant Coach (USA); 2009 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: Assistant Coach (CAN); 2010 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (SC): Assistant Coach (CAN); 2011 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS:  Assistant Coach (CAN); 2012 WORLD CHAMPI-ONSHIPS (SC): Assistant Coach (CAN); COACH OF TWO WORLD RE-CORD HOLDERS  SETTING NINE WORLD RECORDS AND ONE RE-LAY WORLD RECORD; COACH OF THREE SWIMMERS WINNING ONE  GOLD, SILVER AND BRONZE  MEDAL AT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS; 37 YEAR HISTORY OF NUMEROUS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS IN HUN, USA, SPN, CAN; 2010 COMMONWEALTH GAMES: Assistant Coach (CAN); 2007 PAN AMERICAN GAMES: Assistant Coach (CAN); 1985, 1991, 1987, 1999, 2000 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: Assistant Coach;  FOUR-TIME CANADIAN COACH OF THE YEAR (Female).

He was born and raised in Hungary and may know more about the breaststroke than anyone in the world. Not surprisingly, Jozsef Nagy was a breaststroker himself. He won the Hungarian Jr. National Championship in 1973 and com-peted for Hungary internationally. After he retired from swimming in 1976, he studied physical education at the University of Budapest and earned a presti-gious Master Coach certificate. During this time, he read an article on the pat-tern of ocean waves by Nobel physicist Richard Feynman. Applying principles of physics to swimming, the idea for “wave-action breaststroke was born. It was originally just a theory, created on paper – but then proven in “practice” by Janos Dzvonyar, who placed 5th in the Moscow Olympic Games of 1980.

Until Nagy came along, breaststrokers glided along the surface like al-ligators. Their bodies rode low in the water, with only their backs and the crowns of their heads visible. In the 1980’s, breaststrokers began to resemble buoys bobbing in the water as the stroke became more vertical.

In 1986, Nagy moved to the United States and began coaching Mike Bar-rowman, the first swimmer to perfect “the wave” by channeling his power into smooth, undulating motions.

To help Barrowman grasp the idea, Nagy showed him footage of a cheetah on the run. “A cheetah keeps his head down and lifts his shoulders to run,” Barrowman said, “It really did help me to get a mental picture of what the shoulders needed to do in the stroke.”

Between 1988 and 1992, Barrowman dominated the 200 meter breaststroke, winning 15 of 16 major national and international competitions and the world record he set at the Barcelona Olympic Games held for ten years.

In addition to Barrowman, Nagy coached swimmers from four different nations to international success including, Roque Santos of the USA, Sergio Lopez of Spain, Gabriella Cespo and Norbert Rozsa of Hungary, and Canada’s Annamay Pierse.

The inventor of the “wave action breaststroke,” Joszef Nagy developed numerous dry land exercises and swim sets that are now widely used and he has generously shared and explained his ideas via articles, speeches and lectures around the world since the late 1980’s.

charlotte davis 1984-20150226210317_ibe_165x237

Photo Courtesy: ISHOF


FOR THE RECORD: 1984 OLYMPIC GAMES: Head Coach; 1988 OLYMPIC GAMES: Assistant Coach and Team Leader; 1992 OLYMPIC GAMES: Assistant Coach and Team Leader; 1996 OLYMPIC GAMES: National Team Director and Coach of two swimmers winning two Olympic gold and one Olympic Silver medal; National Team Director and Assistant Coach of 1991, 1994 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: 1991, 1993, 1995 WORLD CUP: National Team Director and Assistant Coach; 1983, 1987, PAN AMERICAN GAMES: Head Coach 1995 PAN AM GAMES: National Team Director and Assistant Coach.


She began her love of swimming at age three. At 11, her older sisters taught her “water ballet” and she was immediately hooked. She loved the music, the creativity, the artistry and best of all, swimming upside down! She then discovered the Washington Athletic Club Synchronized Swimming Team, where she competed through high school. After high school, she moved and competed with the reigning National Champion, Santa Clara Aquamaids. It was with the Aquamaids, she became a National Team champion in 1970.

In 1971, Charlotte moved back to Seattle and formed her own synchronized swimming team. After a few years of coaching, a nine year-old swimmer who could barely swim the length of the pool, caught Charlotte’s eye. That little girl’s name was Tracie Ruiz. Soon after, another little girl, Candy Costie, stood out and decided she wanted to swim duet with Tracie.

Under Charlotte’s guidance, Tracie and Candy rose to the top very quickly, winning the Junior National Duet title at the age of 16. Five years later, in 1982, when the IOC announced the inclusion of the duet on the program for the 1984 Olympic Games, Charlotte and the girls made a pact to work hard and earn the right to represent the United States in Los Angeles. Their hard work and dedication paid off as Charlotte was named head Olympic coach and the girls went on to win the gold medal for the USA; because of the Soviet boycott, the IOC added the solo competition at the last minute. Tracie Ruiz won the gold medal in that event as well.

Charlotte Davis was instrumental in the formation of the U.S. Synchronized Swimming Inc. program that began when the corporation was formed in 1979. She was hired as the organization’s first full-time National Team coach in 1984 and in 1992 was named National Team Director, a position she held until her retirement in 2000. During her tenure, the USA was the dominant force in international synchronized swimming. In addition to the gold medals in 1984 she coached the Josephson twins, Karen and Sarah, to the Olympic duet silver medal in 1988 and Tracie Ruiz to the gold in solo. In 1992 the Josephsons won the duet, while Kristen Babb won the solo gold in Barcelona. As the National Team Director and assistant Olympic coach in 1996, Charlotte also played a major role in the USA’s “perfect ten” performance in Atlanta. It was the first Olympic gold medal awarded for the team event in Olympic history.

Charlotte Davis shared her expertise by giving clinics around the world helping to make synchronized swimming one of the marquee FINA events.

Notify of

Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x