Numerous loved ones, supporters and colleagues were on hand to celebrate legendary writer and photographer Fred Swegles and world-record handcycle marathoner Beth Sanden as the pair were honored with induction to the San Clemente Sports Wall of Fame in a poolside ceremony on Saturday, May 20, at the San Clemente Aquatics Center at Vista Hermosa Park.
Swegles, a posthumous inductee, and Sanden were the 28th and 29th additions to the Wall of Fame, which honors those who were born, went to school or reached their achievements in sports while living in San Clemente, including Olympians, professional athletes, champions, coaches, mentors or inspiring contributors. Inductees are selected annually by the Friends of San Clemente Foundation in coordination with the San Clemente Sports Wall of Fame Committee.
After introductory remarks from Friends Foundation CEO Rick Loeffler and San Clemente city councilman Victor Cabral, each inductee was presented by a chosen speaker.
Presenting Fred Swegles was Picket Fence Media publisher Norb Garrett. Swegles’ tile for the Wall of Fame was accepted by his sister Barbara Chamberlain.
“Fred was there for arguably every important moment in his 56 years covering San Clemente,” Garrett said. “He had a knack for photos that captured the moment.”
Swegles, who died last October due to complications from a brain tumor at age 74, was a journalist for more than 50 years at the Daily Sun-Post, Orange County Register and San Clemente Times whose entire life embodied San Clemente and was dedicated to capturing the town’s daily life, especially is surf and sports culture.
“He was a humble guy,” Chamberlain said, “but he would have really appreciated this.”
Swegles, a member of the second graduating class of San Clemente High School, started his career as a reporter for the high school newspaper and went on to be a sports editor while at USC for the school’s Daily Trojan newspaper.
Garrett detailed Swegles commitment to documenting the city’s water sports community, particularly his years covering the Ocean Festival. Garrett also recalled Swegles many connection to the surfing community through the numerous local professional surfers down to the city’s groms. Garrett also shared that San Clemente High School athletic director John Hamro credited Swegles’ for giving exposure and legitimacy to the school’s surf team.
Presenting Beth Sanden was Friends Foundation director John Dorey.
Dorey outlined the mountain of adversity Sanden overcame to reach this stage of her athletic career. Sanden was an avid triathlon competitor when, 22 years ago, she hit some broken asphalt on her bike while training and landed on her back. Her T6 and T7 vertebrae were crushed, which left her an incomplete paraplegic.
Sanden retained some use of her right leg and had a brace on her left leg, and Dorey remarked that the average person wouldn’t ever be able to get back to competing like Sanden had done previously.
“But there’s nothing average about Beth,” Dorey said.
Sanden worked her way back to compete as a handcyclist at the 2009 Boston Marathon, and from there would go on to compete in 118 marathons and 70 Olympic sprint triathlon events. Sanden has earned world records as the first disabled athlete to compete in seven marathons on all seven continents, plus the North Pole. She has completed the highest-altitude marathon in the world and also been named USa Marathon and Triathlon Coach of the Year. Sanden recently completed her 13th Boston Marathon in April.
When accepting her honor, Sanden celebrated that she was being inducted alongside Swegles, who documented her story and achievements several times.
“He liked my cookies,” Sanden said. “I’ll used Fred’s words instead of my own.”
Sanden then read from a story Fred had written about her detailing her resolve and commitment to reaching her level of competition. Sanden cited her faith in Jesus and the love of her husband for how she got to where she is today.