Thanks! As Brent Rutemiller Heads Into Retirement, His Influence Will Carry On

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Thanks! As Brent Rutemiller Heads Into Retirement, His Influence Will Carry On

Goodbye is not the right word, as that phrasing suggests a move in which the man will no longer have an influence on the workplace in which he worked for 30-plus years. No, the proper wording concerning the retirement of Brent Rutemiller as CEO of the International Swimming Hall of Fame and Publisher of Swimming World Magazine is thanks.

I’ve known Brent for 20 years, before he took command of Swimming World and ISHOF, and when I was simply a contributor to the magazine, just hoping for a monthly assignment. During our time working with one another, I saw Brent drive Swimming World’s digital presence and oversee a magazine that brought a variety of offerings to its readership. I then saw Brent take leadership of the Hall of Fame and work tirelessly to make it into a profitable entity with a bright future.

But this column isn’t going to go further into the successes of Rutemiller as a businessman or company leader. Rather, this piece will highlight who Brent is as a person and how his character traits should be appreciated. Additionally, it will provide an opportunity to highlight a few moments shared with Brent through the years.

I’m a fiery person. Always have been, and it’s a characteristic that has served me well in many instances, but also has triggered a few regrets. Brent knows this is who I am, and on a handful of occasions, he endured a rant. And every time, whether it was the same day, the next afternoon or a week later, he took time to address my concerns, provide a slice of insight into the situation and, most importantly, offered advice on how the situation could have been handled better.

See, calm is a trademark of Brent. He’s never too high, and never too low. Through an approach of which I am jealous, Brent is always even-keel. When dealing with a pressurized situation or difficult news, he saw the scenario as manageable. And by being calm and measured, those around Brent were confident a solution for a problem would be found and the end result would be a positive one.

There is no better example to measure the impact of Brent’s calm than his recent fight with cancer. When he was diagnosed with plasma-cell leukemia, he admitted to initial moments of panic and questioning. But within a few days of receiving news that would floor most people, Brent adopted an attitude that was nothing short of triumphant. He was going to battle. He wasn’t going to feel pity. And he was going to win his fight. Well, Brent’s cancer is in remission, and there is no doubt that his attitude played a critical role.

Another plus of our relationship has been travel – domestic and international. In 2007, we ventured to Melbourne for the World Championships at Rod Laver Arena. That trip was where we first truly developed our friendship, working long hours and taking daily walks to the venue and back to the apartment along the Yarra river. A year later, we were in Beijing for the Olympic Games and got the chance to witness the incredible eight-gold performance of Michael Phelps. Working together to cover the greatest showing in Olympic history is something we can remember together.

Brent, you’ve given so much of yourself through the years, and now is your time to finally be about you. It’s deeply deserved and as much as I’m going to miss working with you, your retirement is a celebration. While you won’t be around each day, your influence will be lasting. And for that, I’m thankful.

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