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Dale Petranech

Posted on: 2nd July 2019

It is with great sadness that we report of the passing of Dale Petranech.

Dale was 'the IMSHOF' for decades. His contribution can't be measured and his loss is so painful.

Below are a few of the items from FaceBook and Open Water Swimming News. The interview brings Dale back - for a few minutes and will make you smile and perhaps cry.

There has been a tremendous outpouring of grief and fond memories on the passing of Dale Petranch.

Five decades of giving to aquatics – with an extra special love for open water and marathon swimming.

Yes, Dale served on loads of committees and had lots of great ideas which he took through to fruition. But, there was another element which wouldn’t be apparent.

You have probably read about the FIFA scandals in the last few years: the bribery, the leaders traveling like kings and the hundreds of millions of dollars sloshing around the world football HQ.

Well, in open water swimming it was and remains a very different story.

Dale was a volunteer (as are the vast majority of folks running open water swimming events and associations today). He did things for the love of the sport, to positively touch the lives of others and in the spirit of giving back. Maybe Dale was just “wired” to do what he did. There would have been at least 100 trips to meetings, swims and events over the years. He might have received some partial travel expenses on 5 of those trips. For all the rest he gave his time and used his private credit card to fund the trips. Out of pocket > at least $50,000 and probably well over $100,000.

He made his choices – he served the sport. He drove a normal car, ate at home a lot and traveled in the back of the airplane. He was a man happy with the choices he made.

In our sport Dale was a leader, a manager and an all-round Very Important Person (VIP). But instead of swanning in and out, watching and socializing, he did other things: drove people to and from events, did airport collections and drop-offs, picked up trash, collated results, wrote numbers on shoulders, served as a referee and official and most importantly kept some big egos in check by being humble.

Dale put in 1,000 times more into the sport than he ever asked for or expected to receive. I suspect if you asked him – he probably thought he was still owing.

Our last time together was to the ISHOF awards in Florida in May. Dale was to receive the Lifetime Service Award. His mobility/balance was terrible, and the canes seriously needed to be replaced by a wheelchair. He wanted to make sure that I had a tour of the open water swimming paper files that he had lovingly assembled in the Henning Library. In his acceptable speech he talked about the importance of volunteering and encouraged all the attendees to do as he had done – leave a chunk of their estate to the sport halls of fame.

Dale's example set the tone for the IMSHOF Executive Committee these last years. We are all volunteers, receive no travel expenses and pay for our dinners at the Induction Dinners. Buying a plane ticket to the Induction in New York City in 2020 will be a bittersweet moment: a smile to follow in Dale's footsteps and a tear to be missing him so close to his home in New Jersey.