Joe MacInnis to Receive Gold Medallion Award, ISHOF’s Highest Honor, at 2019 Induction Ceremony

Joe MacInnis ISHOF honoree

From the halls of medicine to the depths of the RMS Titanic, from exploring the ocean under the North Pole to authoring nine books, Dr. Joseph B. MacInnis has an interesting story to tell. He is a medical doctor, an explorer, a pioneer and a man who studies leadership and teamwork in life-threatening environments from the deep ocean to outer space.

Dr. Joseph MacInnis will receive the 2019 International Swimming Hall of Fame Gold Medallion Award—ISHOF’s highest recognition—on Saturday, May 18, at the 55th Annual ISHOF Induction Ceremony in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The Gold Medallion Award is presented each year to a former competitive swimmer for his or her national or international significant achievements in the field of science, entertainment, art, business, education or government…and whose life has served as an inspiration for youth.

Dr. MacInnis has led many expeditions under the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans. He was the first person to explore the ocean beneath the North Pole. Funded by the Canadian government, he led many research expeditions under the Arctic Ocean to develop the systems and techniques to make scientific surveys beneath the polar ice cap. It was Dr. MacInnis and his teams that built the first underwater polar station.

MacInnis has written nine books about undersea science and engineering projects and the leadership needed to make them succeed. Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter called him “the poet-laureate of the deep ocean.” His latest book, “Deep Leadership,” was recently published by Random House.

Meet Joe in person and hear his incredible life story at the ISHOF Induction dinner.   Become an ISHOF Legacy Member and attend the ISHOF Induction Dinner for FREE.  Can’t attend the event? Make a donation to ISHOF to support our honorees.

Joe MacInnis ISHOF honoree

Photo Courtesy: Joe MacInnis

About Joe MacInnis

Dr. Joseph B. MacInnis grew up in Toronto, Ontario, where his family moved after his father—a Royal Canadian Air Force instructor—died in a plane crash when Joe was just a few months old. MacInnis had a love of the water from an early age and learned to scuba-dive off the coast of Florida in the mid-1950s. At about that same time, he attended the University of Toronto, where he was the captain of the swim team. MacInnis was a breaststroker and held the Canadian record. He even made an attempt at the 1956 Canadian Olympic team.

He continued on at the University of Toronto and earned his M.D. in 1962. He interned at the University of Toronto, where he encountered a tunnel construction worker that would help determine his future. The worker was suffering from decompression sickness, and it helped MacInnis decide that his post-graduate studies would be in diving medicine.

MacInnis continued studying diving medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Two years later, he was appointed by the U.S. Navy and National Geographic as medical director of the American Man-In-Sea program. It was MacInnis’ pioneering research on the health and safety of deep-sea divers that took him to projects in the North Sea, the North Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.

Joe MacInnis Scuba Tank ISHOF Honoree

Photo Courtesy: Joe MacInnis

It was in 1969 that MacInnis met Pierre Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada. Over the years, the two men would eventually make approximately 50 dives together. In 1970, Trudeau asked MacInnis to help write Canada’s first national ocean policy. That same year, Dr. MacInnis founded the James Allister MacInnis Foundation for underwater research in education in Canada. He also began a series of research expeditions to study techniques for working under the freezing waters of the Arctic Ocean.

MacInnis led a team in 1972 that constructed the first manned underwater station, “Sub-Igloo,” in the Arctic Ocean. It was from “Sub-Igloo” that MacInnis spoke to the prime minister in Canada from under the Arctic Ocean. The very next year, Dr. MacInnis took part in a scientific exchange program with the Soviet Union. He visited Moscow and Leningrad, and shared with them his underwater polar research. In 1974, MacInnis became the first scientist to dive beneath the North Pole.

By the mid 1970s, Dr. Joe MacInnis had been on more than 100 expeditions and/or major dives around the world. In 1975, he took H.R.H. Prince Charles on a dive at Resolute Bay, where they dove under the polar ice cap. The following year, MacInnis was presented his nation’s highest honor, the Order of Canada, for his pioneering research on undersea science and engineering projects.

In 1975, Dr. MacInnis discovered a fragment of the world’s most northernmost-known shipwreck, the HMS Breadalbane, a British merchant ship that sank in 1853 under the ice of the Northwest Passage. A few years later, he headed the first expedition to find the actual wreck of the Breadalbane. After three years, it was discovered by Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker, CCGS John A. Macdonald. The MacDonald found the Breadalbane using side sonar; her hull was intact and her masts still standing.

Joe MacInnis Titanic ISHOF Honoree

Exploring Titanic Photo Courtesy: Joe MacInnis

One of the highlights of MacInnis’ career had to be in 1985, when he was an adviser to the team that discovered the wreck of the RMS Titanic. Between a six-year period from 1985 through 1991, MacInnis made dives in submersibles, including his first visit to the Titanic in 1987 aboard the French Nautile as well as a descent of 16,400 feet into the King’s Trough in the eastern North Atlantic aboard Mir 1.

In 1991, MacInnis was an advisor to the Titanic discovery team and co-leader of a $5 million expedition to film Titanic on the giant-screen IMAX format, in which he dove to Titanic’s bridge deck. It was this expedition that inspired James Cameron’s Academy Award-winning movie. In 2005, MacInnis participated in a “Live-from-the-Titanic” television special with Cameron for the Discovery Channel. The expedition involved the world’s largest research ship, 130 people, two $2 million subs and five mini-robots. The companion book to the special, “Exploring the Titanic at the Speed of Light” was released in the fall of that year.

James Cameron and Joe MacInnis ISHOF Honoree

James Cameron and Joe, Photo Courtesy: Joe MacInnis

In 2012, MacInnis accompanied National Geographic and James Cameron once again as the expedition physician and journalist for the seven-mile science dive into the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean in the Deepsea Challenger submersible.

“In this beautiful, broken world of collapsing ecosystems, failed states and toxic lies,” says Dr. Joe MacInnis, “we need dynamic tools to navigate personal and professional change.”

Dr. MacInnis has been studying leadership in life-threatening environments, including the deep ocean, the battlefield, government and corporations. He gives leadership presentations in North America and Europe to companies that have included IBM, Microsoft, General Motors, Rolex and Toyota.

About The International Swimming Hall of Fame Induction Weekend

International Swimming Hall of Fame

The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) Induction Ceremony is shaping up to be a star-studded weekend with multiple events spread out over three days in beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Make your plans now to attend the weekend of May 17-19, 2019!  ISHOF Members can purchase the Weekend Package and Save!  Can’t attend the event? Make a donation to ISHOF to support our honorees.

This year’s International Swimming Hall of Fame honorees include Swimmers: Jason Lezak (USA), Otylia Jedrzejczak (POL), Stephanie Rice (AUS), Britta Steffen (GER); Diver: Li Ting (CHN); Water Polo Player: Alessandro Campagna (ITA); Coach: Boris Popov (RUS);  Synchronized Swimmer: Olga Sedakova (RUS); Open Water Swimmer: Marcy MacDonald (USA); Contributor: Dr. Ferenc Salamon (HUN); and Pioneer: Alfred Nakache* (FRA).  

ISHOF will also present the 2019 Gold Medallion Award to Dr. Joseph B. MacInnis.

2019 Paragon Award and ISHOF Specialty Award Recipients

  • Greg Eggert—Competitive Swimming
  • Don Holbrook—Water Polo
  • Bill Farrar—Competitive Diving
  • Igor Kartashov—Synchronized Swimming
  • Peter Davis—Aquatic Safety
  • Carvin DiGiovanni—Recreational Swimming
  • Carolyn Wood—Buck Dawson Author Award: “Tough Girl”
  • Dale Petranech—ISHOF Service Award
  • David Duda—Judge G. Harold Martin Award
  • Robert Strauss—Virginia Hunt Newman Award
  • Ruth Meyer—John K. Williams, Jr. International Adapted Aquatics Award
  • Peter Bick—Al Schoenfield Media Award
  • Jim Wood* —Lifetime Achievement Award

The Weekend Schedule

Friday, May 17th — Paragon & ISHOF Specialty Awards Night

Saturday, May 18th — Honoree Induction Day Luncheon

12-1:30 PM Luncheon ISHOF Museum

Official 55th Annual International Swimming Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

VIP Reception 6:00 PMInduction Ceremony 7:00 –10:00 PM at Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort and Spa

Sunday, May 19th — Swim Across America



  • Host Hotel: Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa

    Four and a half star upscale retreat with private beach access, two pools, four restaurants, full service spa and oceanside bar. Location
    of the Saturday evening induction ceremony. ¼ mile south of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
  • Courtyard by Marriott Fort Lauderdale Beach

    • 440 Seabreeze Blvd., Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33316 (954) 524-8733
    • Special ISHOF Guest Rate of $169 per night
    • Please call 954 524-8733 and mention Swimming Hall of Fame Honoree Ceremony for the special Rate of $169.
For more hotel or ticket Information contact Meg Keller-Marvin / 570-594-4367

* Deceased

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