Story by Carlos Ochoa/Viking News/@CarlosOchoaLA

Hall of Famers took to a small stage on Friday, Oct. 6, 20-feet away from the river connecting Naples to the Pete Archer LB Rowing Center at Marine Stadium, and at the heart of Olympic dreams. (40)

During the ceremony, people were seated at round tables, speaking to the Hall of Fame inductees, eating a Buffalo Wild Wings buffet and consuming alcohol to let the food down as the open patio which overlooks the waterway where most of the members grew up.

Introductions were given by Rob Webb, 2016 Aquatic Capital Board Member and Rich Foster, President of the 2016 ACO and Executive Committee.

15 former athletes and coaches were inducted by John Naber, the family of the inductees and students in the community who share a passion for aquatic sport.

John Naber said, “Let’s create the next generation of orators by asking some young men and women to be our inductors.”

Inductees included deceased athletes and community figures Pete Archer, a multi-watersports coach, Ron Crawford, a water polo player, Monte Nitzkowski, a water polo coach, Klaus Barth, a swimmer and coach, Joan Van Bloom, a rower, and Lee Kirk, a water skier.

Rich Foster said, “Unfortunately, some are not here, but they will forever have our love and respect.”

Stories ranged from the history of the ACO, a non-profit organization that supports regional and local efforts to cleanse waterways and promote aquatic sports in the community, to nostalgic memories about the deceased inaugural inductees.

Family members of deceased inductees spoke about their experiences in dealing with loss including four-time Olympian John Van Blom who talked about how his wife (2- time rowing Olympian Joan Van Blom) has been such an inspiration to their family, the sport of rowing, the community and her peers.

After the celebration, an emotional interview with a former student of Coach Klaus said, “He treated everyone the same, and he had such a positive effect on all of us.”

Many more family members and friends of the deceased inductees spoke during the ceremony about how the loss of each inductee has affected their individual lives and how their legacies will be lived on, all the while celebrating the livelihood of those inductees who are still a live and contributing toward the same causes the aquatics community fights for on a local and regional level.