Thomas John Hetzel was an American open water swimmer who inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honour Swimmer in 1980.
Open Water Swimming Highlight
- From 1968 to 1972, Hetzel was an internationally ranked marathon swimmer.
- He swam the English Channel eight times as a solo swimmer and captained six relay crossings that set three new records.
- He competed the 15th annual 31 km Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean professional race in Canada, but he pulled out after 8 hours 13 minutes on 2 August 1969.
- He competed in the 42.9 km America's Marathon Swim in Newport, Rhode Island, a professional marathon swim held on 9 August 1970.
- He competed the 17th annual 31 km Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean professional race in Canada, but he pulled out after 10 hours 9 minutes on 7 August 1971.
- He competed in the 32 km Aswan High Dam competition.
- He competed in the 48.2 km (30 miles) professional marathon swim in Baja California.
- He competed in the 48.2 km (30 miles) from Point Lookout in New York.
- He competed in 12 Manhattan Island Marathon Swims around Manhattan Island, New York.
- He coached Doc Counsilman on his English Channel swim.
- He attempted a double circumnavigation around Manhattan Island.
- He was the co-founder of the Manhattan Island Swimming Association.
- He authored a book on marathon swimming, entitled Conquest of the English Channel.
- He was elected as a vice-president of the World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation in 1969.
- In 1971, he participated in the United Nations Team, a six-member team that crossed the English Channel two ways with Corrie Ebbelaar, Manucher Tooluiy, Mehdi Maesoumi, Hugh Tucker, and Ray Dixon who broke the two-way relay record in 24 hours 7 minutes.
He passed away 17 October 2011 in Texas. Joshua Ruiz said of him, "He was an astonishingly humble man and a true American legend. He has left behind God's heavenly bodies of water in exchange for his wings in the sky."
Dale Petranech, Honorary Secretary of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, commented, "We will all miss our friend and fellow swimmer. He made great contributions to marathon swimming. I am sure that we cannot list and appreciate everything that Tommy has accomplished. His eight times across the English Channel and his coaching of several channel swimmers, including coaching great Doc Counsilman, is but a part of his legacy. It is truly a sad day, we will all miss this giant in marathon swimming."
Drury Gallagher, co-founder of the Manhattan Island Swimming Association with Hetzel, remembers, "Tom and I grew up on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in Rockaway Beach, New York. We had the same teacher and mentor, Joseph Ruddy: a legend, Olympian swimmer and water polo player and member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Were it not for Tom, there would be no Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. He was the inspiration and motivational force behind the Manhattan Island Swimming Association. It was through the successes of his English Channel swims that he opened the rivers around Manhattan Island for swimmers from around the world."
1979 double attempt - George Kauffmann of the USA
1980 double attempt - Tom Hetzel of the USA
1983 double success - Julie Ridge of the USA in over 21 hours
1984 double attempt - Ben Huggard of the USA [with his feet tied in a charity swim]
1984 triple success - Stacy Chanin of the USA in 33 hours 30 minutes
2007 double success - Marcos Diaz of the Dominican Republic (wetsuit) in 22 hours 14 minutes
2007 double/triple success - Skip Storch of the USA in 20 hours 56 minutes (double) and 32 hours 52 minutes (triple)
2016 double success - Pieter Christian Jongeneel Anderica of Spain in 20 hours 15 minutes
- Doc Counsilman Helped Usher In An Increasingly Graying Trend In Channel Swimming
- Water Swimming In, Near, And Around New York City
- WOWSA Live with Drury Gallagher and Ned Denison, Talking About Manhattan Island
- Reading, Not Racing. A Library Of Open Water Swimming Books
- The Persistence Of Ralph Willard
- Open Water Swimming
- Julie Ridge Talks About Swimming Around Manhattan On WOWSA Live
- Back In Time: In 1977 With The Channel Swimming Association
- Drury Gallagher Praises Tom Hetzel
- Tom Hetzel Testing Himself Through The Years
- Marathoner Tom Hetzel To Be Honored At The United Nations
- Local Lido Legends - Oliver Wilkinson And Thomas Hetzel
- Sharp As A Swimmer, The Mervyn Marathon Magic
- Channel Swimming Association
- Thomas Hetzel Profile
- Conquest of the English Channel
- Conquest of the English Channel on Amazon
- Tom Hetzel's Legacy Lives On
- James Tout Still Going Strong
- History Of Swimming Around Manhattan Island
- The Courage And Grit Of Christian Jongeneel
- Christian Jongeneel Double Manhattan Circumnavigation
- International Marathon Swimming Hall Of Fame Origins
- World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation History
- International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame
- World Open Water Swimming Association
- The Transition From NYC Swim To New York Open Water
- WPMSF Led To IMSHOF
- World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation
- Marathon Swimming
- Daily News of Open Water Swimming
- The World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation
- A Giant Of The Sport, Joe Grossman
- World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation website
- Hugh Tucker Honored By The Hall Of Fame