Swim Hall of Fame Selects Six Inductees

Six new members were inducted into the Rhode Island Aquatic Hall of Fame in ceremonies held at its thirty-ninth annual dinner Saturday Evening, May 6, 2023, at the Quonset O Club in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Those inducted were: Cindy Bowden, Edward Brennan, Brandi Blakely Coutinho, Thomas DiIorio, James Dollins, and Marianne Hassan.

Cindy Bowden began her swimming career in 1976 at the Brown Swim Club and later the Little Rhody Aquatic Club. Cindy was an excellent age group swimmer having succeeded at the RI Age Group Championships as well as the RI Senior Championships. Cindy qualified and participated in many regional swim meets and performed successfully as an individual as well as a relay participant. During high school, Cindy initially competed for Bay View Academy, a member of the New England Prep School league. Cindy helped Bay View to their first Prep School championship. After her freshman year, Cindy transferred to Pilgrim High School and competed in the Rhode Island Interscholastic League (RIIL) for the next three years where she qualified and placed at all major RIIL events.

From 1986 – 1990, Cindy attended Providence College where she competed for three years and then served as team manager and scorer. After graduating from PC, Cindy’s career took the coaching path first as an Assistant Coach at North Providence High School and then as Head Coach at Pilgrim High School. In 2005 Cindy became an Interscholastic League swim official and in 2008 was appointed Director of Swimming for the RIIL. She also became the director of the annual New England Interscholastic Swim Championship meet. In honor and appreciation for her professionalism, Cindy was awarded the distinguished Joseph Tracey Memorial Award from the RIIL Officials Association. Then, in 2019, she received the RIIL Distinguished Service Award.

Since 2008, Cindy has been an integral board member of the Rhode Island Aquatic Hall of Fame and has served as Secretary of the organization.

Cindy resides in Warwick where she has been a dedicated Elementary School teacher since 1990.

Brandi Blakely Coutinho was an outstanding and talented swimmer from early age group years through high school swimming. Her age group records, which were numerous, and high school record are outstanding at the local, New England, and Junior National level. Brandi competed for the Kendbrin Swim and Tennis Club of the Summer League, the East Providence Boys Club, and East Bay Aquatic Club. While competing for East Providence Senior High School, Brandi earned 1st team All State Honors in the 100 yard butterfly and 50 yard freestyle. As an age group swimmer at the East Providence Boys and Girls Club, Brandi set numerous age group records. Later, competing for the East Bay Aquatic Club, Brandi placed 15th at the National Junior Championship as a member of the 200 medley relay. She also competed in the International Scholastic Athlete games which took place in Ireland.

After graduation from East Providence High School, Brandi enrolled at Rhode Island College which did not have a team during her college years. Brandi now lives in Cumberland, Rhode Island.

Edward “Ted” Brennan grew up in Barrington, Rhode Island and attended LaSalle Academy. As an Age Group swimmer at Barrington YMCA Ted competed successfully in local and New England YMCA and USS meets. From 1981 – 1985 Ted competed for LaSalle Academy in Providence, Rhode Island. He was a four year varsity swimmer, team captain in his senior year, and was named to the Journal Bulleting All State 2nd team for the 200 Medley Relay and 400 Freestyle Relay. He won the Hugh O’Brien Award for leadership during his senior year.

After LaSalle Ted studied at Villanova University and competed on the swim team all four years. In his senior year Ted was named co-captain and earned membership on the All Big East Conference Academic team. As a Big East Swimmer Ted placed 12th in the 200 free and 1650 free as well as 15th in the 500 freestyle. He placed at the National Catholic Collegiate Swim Championships earning Most Improved Swimmer recognition. The 1988 – 1989 Villanova team were the defending National Catholic Champions.

During his swimming career here in Rhode Island Ted was active in Lifeguarding and Water Safety. He was the High Point Scorer in the 1989 Lifeguard competition, achieving the honor of King Neptune.

After graduating from Villanova Ted continued his passion for swimming by successful coaching at the local swim club in Allentown, Pennsylvania, by officiating in the United States Swimming club events, and by serving as meet director for the Eastern Pennsylvania Special Olympic Sectional swim meets. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Swimming Official Association. Ted also competes in USS Master’s Swimming and is a triathlon Athlete having qualified for the 2018 Ironman World Championships in South Africa.

Ted, a retired US Navy Commander, resides in Allentown, PA with his wife Jennifer and children.

Thomas DiIorio competed as an age group swimmer at the Pawtucket Boys Club and was a very good swimmer and a better team member. It was at an early age that Tom realized that success required dedication, commitment, sportsmanship, excellence, loyal team participation. Tom has dedicated the last 25 years to teaching youth of all levels in the enjoyment and benefit of aquatics. He has excelled as a coach and teacher. Tom has been the recipient of the John Stoyko Sportsmanship award, the William Valerio Sportsmanship award, the Lincoln High School Coach of the Year, and the National Federation of High Schools Coach of the Year. He has been the recipient of Sportsmanship Awards several time. His swim teams have won many club and divisional championships. His athletes have excelled. Tom has been a coach and leader in swim competition for Rhode Island and Regional Special Olympic Swimming. Tom has coached alongside RIAHOF Inductees Paul Phillips, Glenn Ginish, and Beverly Bloomer. Presently he is coaching the Lincoln Lions High School team as well as the Seekonk Warriors Special Olympic Swim team. Evan Robertson Miller, 2016 RIAHOF Inductee, was coached by Tom Diiorio.

James Dollins affectionately known as the “Godfather of Swimming” in the East Bay / Bristol area, Jim is credited with the development of swimming in this local. In the early 1970’s Jim at the urging of Bristol YMCA leadership began a club team that eventually developed from a 25 member club to a team in excess of 125 members. The growth and interest in swimming led to the formation of the Bristol High School team which eventually became a member of the Rhode Island Interscholastic League. Also, Jim’s dedication and enthusiasm was instrumental to the beginnings of the Roger Williams University swim team. Several of Jim’s swimmers are inducted in the RIAHOF: Jeff Allen, Joe Perroni, Rob Berry, Susan Perroni Simpson, Sarah Perroni Hart, and Joe Callery. Many others have made competitive swimming and aquatics as part of their careers. Joe Securo, Jeff Allen, Cindy McCarthy, Kathy Welch, and Matt Connery are the names of just a few who contributed to our sport. ” Continuous improvement” was Jim’s goal and moto in coaching. Today all on the East Bay and elsewhere continue to benefit from Jim Dollins contributions to Aquatics.

Marianne Hassan learned how to swim and continued her swimming career at the Barrington YMCA from 1972 to 1982; and later, competed for the Barrington High School swim team. As an age group swimmer, she was the state champion in various events including freestyle, individual medley, and backstroke events. During her Age Group career, Marianne represented the Barrington YMCA and for awhile in her teen years, Little Rhody Aquatic Club. Marianne won many events and broke numerous records in State, New England, and Regional USS competition as well as at the New England and National YMCA level competitions. She was selected as a member of the RI All Star Team that competed in Virginia (1974) and Montreal (1976). As a swimmer and later co-captain of the Barrington High School team ( which did not separate boys from girls), Marianne, in the State Championship meet of her freshman year, placed 8th in the 500 yard freestyle. Being a finalist and placing 8th was the first time a female scored in the inclusive Interscholastic League Swim Championship. At Barrington YMCA, Marianne was the recipient of the Florence Fillippo Award in 1976 and the Swimmer of the Year Award in 1981.

After graduation from High School, Marianne enrolled and competed at Duke University and in 1987 was recognized as the Duke University Most Valuable Women’s Swimmer. Marianne continues to be involved in aquatics and has received much recognition for her involvement as founder, coach, and official.

Marianne now resides in Rensselaer, New York where she is Associate Provost of the State University of New York.

For additional information, contact Victor Bevilacqua at vic2468@aol.com or Ken Reall at ken_reall@yahoo.com.