Cassidy's dedication to the sport has been recognized by his peers and the international swimming community. He won the highest honor at USA Swimming, the prestigious USA Swimming Award which is given annually to the individual or organization with the most outstanding contribution to the sport of swimming.
Cassidy was the Coach and Technical Expert of the USA Swimming Open Water Swimming Safety Task Force.
Legacy in the Sport
Cassidy is truly one of the unsung heroes of the sport of open water swimming. In his acceptance speech at the United States Aquatic Convention, Cassidy acknowledged his family and mentor, "I am simply awed to receive this [USA Swimming] award. There are so many deserving great volunteers in our organization and to think that the Committee selected me is overwhelming. It is truly something I accept on behalf of so many of you who have given your efforts to help promote open water swimming worldwide. In particular i have to thank my family first - Kara, Quinn and Kate and my Mom and Dad for all of their love and support. I also want to be sure and note my mentor and friend as the man who taught us to swim straight in the old quarry hole - Bob Mattson. He truly has been an inspiration in my life."
Cassidy has worked tirelessly in nearly every continent over four decades as an athlete, coach, race director, promoter, administrator, referee, lecturer and the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee chairman. He has balanced a long-term vision and pragmatism in organizing and running the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim, the FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup and the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix circuit during his role with FINA.
Selfless dedication. Unflagging perseverance. Creative vision. Enthusiastic leadership. Entertaining speaker. These are just a few of the words that capture the essence and character of Sid.
Cassidy’s early passion for open water swimming developed under developed under coach Bob Mattson in the early 1970’s in Lansdale, Pennsylvania.
He later went on to an All-American collegiate career at North Carolina State University and continued his proximity to the open water as a lifeguard with the Ocean City (New Jersey) Beach Patrol where he was introduced to professional marathon swimming.
Cassidy was the #4-ranked pro marathon swimmer in 1979 when he swam marathons in Chicago, Atlantic City, Canada and Egypt. It was during this period when he also started his coaching career. Similar to Bill Russell with the Boston Celtics, who was the player-coach of the NBA champions, Sid pulled off unprecedented double duties in the English Channel in 1990.
While coaching the USA Swimming National Open Water Team, he also swam on the six-member team that set three records for the fastest English-to-France crossing, the fastest France-to-England crossing, and the fastest double crossing that all still hold today.
Cassidy later became the USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Team head coach for five years from 1991-1996. During this period, he coached Jay Wilkerson and Samantha Chabotar to national championships from his own club while he also escorted American medalists at various FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships and World Cup events. He subsequently served as the race director for six international marathon swimming events from 1999 to 2004, and promoted the 10K distance back in an early 10K World Cup event in 2002. 'The 10K for the USA' was a precursor of how the 10K races can host a large number of elite swimmers and provide thrilling races for spectators to enjoy up close.
Cassidy was the race starter at the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim in Beijing, but perhaps his greatest legacy will result from his globe-traveling responsibilities on behalf of the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee where he has served since 1996. Together with members Dennis Miller of Fiji and Chris Guesdon of Australia, Cassidy promoted the 10K model that was successfully used at the 2008 World Open Water Swimming Championships in Sevilla, Spain and later in Beijing and London in 2012. Cassidy continues his role in reviewing and promoting the sport and its rules and regulations and being a strong voice and leader for open water swimming in America. As the sport grows, his leadership in educating referees and officials on how to correctly and consistently interpret the rules during competition will be especially important and appreciated.
International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Induction
Cassidy was inducted as an Honour Administrator in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 2005. As a swimmer, Cassidy was ranked fourth as a professional marathon swimmer in 1979. He swam several 36km (22.5-mile) Around the Island Marathon Swims in Atlantic City, USA and competed in professional marathon races in Chicago, Canada and Egypt. He both coached and swam on a record-setting double-crossing of the English Channel by the USA Swimming National Team in 1990.
Glen S. Hummer Award
Cassidy was the 1996 recipient of the Glen S. Hummer Award, an award given to the individual who makes the greatest contribution to the open water swimming in the United States.
Sid Cassidy on Open Water Wednesdaywas the Medical Consultant of the USA Swimming Open Water Swimming Safety Task Force.
USA Swimming Open Water Swimming Safety Task Force
USA Swimming Open Water Swimming Safety Task Force was a five-person investigative Open Water Review Commission to review the findings of the independent investigation into the tragic death of Fran Crippen on 23 October 2010 at a FINA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and to submit safety protocol recommendations.
The Task Force had three functions: (1) to review the findings of the independent USA Swimming investigation, (2) to solicit and consider other pertinent information from appropriate individuals and organizations, and (3) develop recommendations for the improvement of safety protocols, procedures and precautions arising from the death of Crippen. These recommendations were presented to USA Swimming and FINA in March 2011.
The recommendations were ultimately accepted by the FINA Bureau on 27 July 2012 as concrete means to improve safety in its open water swimming competitions.
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