Late Ohio distance swimmer Poenisch named to hall of fame

GROVE CITY, Ohio (AP) — The late long-distance swimmer Walter Poenisch (PAYN’-ish) of central Ohio has been named to the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

He is in the “pioneer” category in the hall’s 2017 class, set for an induction weekend Aug. 25-27 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The hall says the record-breaking marathon swimmer used swimming to promote a greater cause and inspire others.

In 1978, at age 65, Poenisch launched a Cuba-to-Florida swim after Cuban leader Fidel Castro personally saw him off on his “Swim for Peace.”

Poenisch said he completed a swim of nearly 130 miles within two days, but the feat wasn’t universally accepted because of what some considered insufficient independent documentation and other issues.

The former baker, rodeo competitor and strongman from Grove City, Ohio, died in 2000.