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John Gillette was a lontime innovator, administrator, competitor and promoter of barefoot water skiing. He is credited with being the first American to execute a backward toehold deepwater start. He invented or advocated several significant rules changes that eventually became part of the World Barefoot Council's Official Rule Book. He was elected as the first vice president of the American Barefoot Club in 1978 and served as president from 1980 to 1981. He was the team captain of the 1978 and 1980 U.S. Elite Barefoot Water Ski Team, and was the coach of the 1982 team.
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