Tribute to Brent Rutemiller: The Sport of Swimming Has Lost a Friend


Tribute to Brent Rutemiller: The Sport of Swimming Has Lost a Friend

We, the sport of swimming, lost a friend this morning. We lost a leader. We lost a visionary. We lost a family man. We lost a guy whose life was defined by giving…always giving.

Brent Rutemiller, the former publisher of Swimming World Magazine and CEO of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, died earlier today after battling cancer like no one I have ever seen. The deadly disease kept coming for him, but Brent somehow fought to extend his life beyond what the doctors anticipated.

Eventually, his fight ceased, and he left this world too early.

Swimming World Managing Editor Dan D’Addona penned a wonderful obituary this morning, one that detailed Brent’s vast accomplishments from his days with this publication, to his tenure with the Hall of Fame. For more than four decades, Brent was an influential figure in the sport and that status will never be forgotten.

Because Dan did such a beautiful job with the obituary, I get the opportunity to write from the heart and craft a tribute that – hopefully – reflects just how much Brent meant to others. Simply, he was the man who gave me a chance to become a major part of Swimming World, and I am deeply thankful for his faith and guidance. He gave others opportunities, too.

In 2007, Brent and I traveled to the World Championships in Melbourne. We stayed in an apartment that was a 20-minute walk from Rod Laver Arena. At the time, Brent was in the early stages of developing Swimming World Radio and the Morning Swim Show. Seventeen years later, I vividly remember the energy with which he spoke when discussing his ideas, the athletes, the coaches and the impact of swimming on his life.

See, that’s the thing about Brent. Everything was full of energy. He couldn’t turn the dial back, and it was charming. Sure, we argued every once in a while (like all colleagues), but as I’ve aged, it has become quite clear that people like Brent are rare. It’s hard to stay full-throttle 100% of the time – except for people like Brent, who find that way of life to be the norm.

When Brent received his cancer diagnosis and was told of the difficult road ahead, there wasn’t any woe-is-me reaction. Instead, he attacked the disease the same way he went about life – with full gusto. Every time Brent was dealt a blow, he used his upbeat attitude to say, “Fine, but I’m going to punch back.” He rallied an army behind him – Rutemiller’s Army. As the days pass by, members of that army will fight their own battles, having been mentored by Brent and exposed to his positivity and resilience.

Brent was supposed to be at the Olympic Trials this week. He was excited about the chance to see hundreds of friends and some fast action in the pool. Instead, he’ll be looking down on Lucas Oil Stadium, smiling at the fact that the sport has come so far. He’ll never admit it, since that was not his style.

But Brent Rutemiller played a key role.

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Virginia Coach
Virginia Coach
2 days ago

A mentor to many and a friend to all. We, in the aquatic world, will miss him more than we know. Rest in Peace, Brent!

Steve West
Steve West
1 day ago

I am lucky to have had the opportunity to work with him on projects for the magazine and at ISHOF over the years. He always strived for the best for himself and everyone around him. He maintained an amazingly positive attitude when he was diagnosed with cancer and defied the odds multiple times to recover. He is an inspiration to everyone around him, we will miss him and his energy.

Wayne Goldsmith
Wayne Goldsmith
1 day ago

Beautifully said John. I am sad today knowing we’ve lost a force of nature. Brent helped me write better – but he showed me how to be a better man, a better dad and a better human. I am – as so many of us are – blessed by the time we got with him. Thanks for a lovely piece on such a terrible day. WG

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