On the 9th May 2003 The British Long Distance Swimming Association was inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, Fort Lauderdale, Florida and awarded the Irving Davids / Captain Roger. W. Wheeler Memorial Award for their leadership, organisational and promotional excellence in the field of Marathon Swimming since they were formed in 1956.
The Irving Davids / Captain Roger. W. Wheeler Memorial Award was established in 1970 by the New England Marathon Swimming Association (NEMSA) and is awarded to individuals or groups who have made a major contribution to Marathon Swimming. Davids was a marathon swimming historian and archivist and Wheeler, a race organiser and marathon swimming administrator. Both men died within a year of each other in the late 1960s and today they still serve as role models for the administrators and organisers in the sport of marathon swimming.
The British Long Distance Swimming Association was officially founded in 1956 upon the suggestion and urging of John Slater and Philip Rising to promote open water swimming.
Since that time, the leadership, membership and athlete representation reads like a “who’s who” in marathon swimming. The BLDSA conducts a series of annual events throughout Great Britain and has acted as a model for sister-type organisations in Scotland and Ireland. The BLDSA held the Lake Windermere International Championship every four years. This event was the premier event for amateur marathon swimmers until FINA relaxed some of its rules concerning professionalism. The BLDSA continues to run a 10.5mile Championship on Lake Windermere which is a very important race on the calendar.
The FINA Open Water Swimming Rules were developed from the BLDSA rules and guidelines. The BLDSA provided the leadership to FINA in the formation of the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Organisation. BLDSA members served on the various developmental open water committees and commissions until the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee was officially formed. To this day, the BLDSA continues to conduct a very active program of championships and to serve as a role model for open water swimming organisations throughout the world.