Waterman King Ky Hurst Headlines Second Wave Of Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Inductees

THE KING AND HIS CLAN: Ky Hurst (second from left) with fellow Beijing Olympians Craig Stevens, Melissa Gorman, Grant Hackett, Greg Towle (Coach), Peter Wells (physic), Susan White (Doctor) and Travis Nederpelt. Photo Courtesy: Hanson Media Collection.

Extraordinary Waterman “Killer” Ky Hurst Headlines second wave of inductees into the Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame

In 1998 at just 16 years of age, Ky Hurst burst onto the marathon open water swimming scene with a brave silver medal performance in the inaugural 5km FINA World Championship in Perth.


WET AND WIRED: Ky Hurst getting a fial “grease and oil” from coach Greg Towle before the history-making 10km marathon debut in Beijing in 2008. Photo Courtesy: Hanson Media Collection.

The already established surf lifesaving ironman prodigy originally from the NSW Central Coast, led Russian race favourite Aleksey Akatyev into the final kilometre into Hillary’s Boat Harbour on the opening day of the Championships.

Akatyev had to dig deeper than ever to catch the internationally unknown kid who would conquer open water and surf races like no other before him.

A breakthrough chapter in a storied career that has seen Hurst become Australia’s greatest ever waterman that included a history-making Olympic debut in Beijing in 2008 and a second Olympic blazer in 2012.

And he is among a list of 24 new inductees who are the second wave of the inaugural intake into the Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame announced.

Hurst, who went on to earn the nicknames “Killer” and “King Ky”  is joined by John Van Wisse and his sister Tammy Van Wisse, Grant Cleland, Shelley Clark, Trudee Hutchinson, Barbara Pellick, Chris Palfrey, David Browne, Dean Summers, Emma Radford, Guy Moar, John Van Wisse, Julie Isbill, Julieanne Goode, Marty Filipowski, Michael Gregory, Oliver Wilkinson, Peter Galvin, Rachael Hanisch, Rondi Davies, Stephen Cresswell, Stephen Junk, Thomas Pembroke, and Vladimir Mravec.

Ten years after his stirring silver, Hurst, at the age of 26, was also part of another chapter in marathon swimming history when he was one of two Australians, along with Melissa Gorman, to contest the first ever Olympic open water event, over 10km, in Beijing – finishing 11th.

Four years later in London’s Serpentine lake, Hurst became a dual Olympian, finishing 20th in his second Olympics.

Open Surf Race winner Kurrawa's Ky Hurst ..At the 2009 “Where Is” SLSA Championships, Scarborough Beach Photo: HARVPIX 0417 285 133

KING KY: Ky Hurst claims another surf race victory.Photo Courtesy: Harvie Allison (Harvpix).

Hurst would go on to become Australia’s greatest ever surf swimmer – winning his 10th “Aussies” open surf race crown in a celebrated 15 year career after winning four Australian open ironman titles.

His addition into the second wave of the Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame comes after his inclusion in the Surf Life Saving Hall of Fame – a rare and special double induction for one of Australian swimming, surf lifesaving and open water’s greatest ever.

Amongst others joining Hurst in this inclusion are the open water warrior siblings John and Tammy Van Wisse and Fina world champions Grant Cleland.

John Van Wisse is a household name when it comes to ultra distance marathon swimming and triathlon from the Bayside area of Melbourne.

Over a 25-year career, John has won numerous international events, and set world records in gruelling ultra distance events winning the Manhattan Island 48km marathon swims New York, USA in 2000, 2008 and 2009.

In 1994 he broke the Australian record for a solo crossing of the English Channel (8 hours 17min)

He also completed a double crossing of the Channel in 2010 (19 hours 55min) in the fastest crossing for the year for first way (9 hours 21min) in horrendous conditions (4th fastest double crossing in history)

John is also a 21 time overall winner of the annual Harry Raisbeck winter mile (8-9 degree C water, no wetsuit) and in 1997 was named the Victorian Royal Life Saving Society Lifesaver of the Year.

His sister Tammy won the Lake Zurich Swim 1990 conquering the Murray River in 2001 – covering a distance of 2,438 kilometres and the English Channel in 1993 in a time of 8h 35mins and again in 1994 in a time of 8h 33mins.

In 2006, van Wisse broke an 81-year-old record (held by Gertrude Ederle) for the 35-mile swim from New York City to Sandy Hook and retired from competitive swimming the same year to start a family, 20 years after her first marathon swim.

In 2004, the boy from Blacktown City, Grant Cleland became the first Australian male to win a Fina World Open Water Championship when he won the 5km title race at the FINA World Open Water Championships in Dubai with fellow Australian Josh Santacaterina grabbing the bronze medal.

In a career reward for perseverance, Cleland, at 31, broke away from the pack and swam long periods by himself before winning a sprint finish ahead of German Christian Hein and Santacaterina finish saying: “It was very hard. In the end, I was just a bit stronger and with this win, all my dreams have been realised.”

And you only have to flick through the Longswims data base to get an understanding for the Shelley Clark’s remarkable marathon swimming career – distances from 5km to 88km from Penrith and Melbourne to Dubai, Roberval, Capri to Naples, Singapore, Hong Kong and Rome to Napoli – marathon swims that have taken the seven-time 25km Australian champion all round the world.

Without doubt a case of the longer the swims the better she’s liked it for the girl from Newcastle.

In 2007 in Melbourne at the World Championships, organisers postponed the 25km championships mid-way through the race after big seas and strong winds were swept up at St Kilda, dislodging the buoys, forcing the race to be stopped and re-started from the distance the competitors had covered on day one.

Clark was carried from the water in one of the bravest performances in Fina World Championship history.

In 2002 Clark was just starting to develop the mental grit needed to cope with the gruelling swims and spoke of a session she had been set by coaches Eric and Shane Arnold – a 2km swim in Newcastle from Bar Beach to Merewether, followed by a run back to the start where the swim would start immediately again.

“They haven’t told me how many times I have to do it – probably until I drop,” she laughed in true marathon swimming verse and certainly a worthy inclusion in the Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.