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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, November 23, 2002

Hawai'i Hall of Fame to induct first class

By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer

For decades, aquatic legends Duke Kahanamoku, Keo Nakama and Soichi "Coach" Sakamoto have been enshrined in the hearts of sports fans here.


• WHAT: Hawai'i Swimming Hall of Fame induction ceremony

• WHO: 49 members of charter class, including Duke Kahanamoku, Clarence "Buster" Crabbe, Soichi "Coach" Sakamoto

• WHEN: Tonight. Banquet already sold out.

Tonight, they officially will be inducted into the new Hawai'i Swimming Hall of Fame.

The inaugural ceremony honoring 49 charter members will be held at the Elks Lodge in Waikiki, just a short swim from the Natatorium, where Kahanamoku, Nakama and Sakamoto first became famous.

All tickets to the event have been sold.

At least 49 Olympic medals have been won by Hawai'i swimmers and divers, and 14 Hawai'i athletes have been inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Besides Kahanamoku, Nakama and Sakamoto, the charter class for the Hawai'i hall includes such notable swimmers as Warren Kealoha, Clarence "Buster" Crabbe, Bill Smith, Halo Hirose, Dick Cleveland and Ford Konno.

The class also includes members from other aquatic sports such as Olympic diver Keala O'Sullivan, water polo coaches Leigh Josephson and Ken Smith, and coach/contributor Al Minn, who founded Aulea Swim Club in Kailua and coached at the University of Hawai'i for 14 years.

Sixteen charter members are expected to receive their custom-made Hall of Fame medallions at tonight's ceremony and 32 will be posthumously inducted, many represented by family members.

Former Olympian Aileen Riggin Soule, who was alive when the list of inductees was announced last month, died Oct. 18. Her family was presented with her medallion before her memorial service.

Hilo's Richard "Sonny" Tanabe, a former Olympian who came up with the idea for the Hall of Fame two years ago, said the number of posthumous inductees and the case of Soule illustrate that such a project was long overdue.

"Just this year, we lost Dick Cleveland, Halo Hirose and Aileen Riggin Soule," said Tanabe, who swam in the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia. "A lot of the others are getting older, too."

Tanabe and others formed the Hawai'i Swimming Legacy Project about two years ago in an effort to preserve the rich aquatic tradition here. Part of the nonprofit organization's plan involved the Hall of Fame and inducting this first class.

The Hall of Fame's ultimate goal is to find a permanent home where exhibits can be on display at all times.

Presently, the hall's "museum" is a traveling display with panels picturing and telling the stories of the honorees. It has been exhibited at libraries, schools, hotels, swimming pools, Honolulu Hale, shopping malls and community events.

The Hall of Fame inductees are selected by an advisory board, which includes representatives from swimming, water polo, diving, master's swimming and channel swimming. The advisory board uses a set criteria to determine selections, including but not limited to Olympic participation, national records and collegiate all-conference recognition.

Hawai'i Swimming Hall of Fame

List of charter inductees

Posthumous inductions

Jose Balmores
George "Dad" Center
Richard Cleveland
Clarence "Buster" Crabbe
Elen Fullard-Leo
J.K. Gilman
Bill Harris
Halo Hirose
Duke Kahanamoku
Sam Kahanamoku
Fred Kahele
Thelma Kalama
Malolo Kalili
Manuella Kalili
George Kane
Charles "Sparky" Kawamoto
Pua Kealoha
Warren Kealoha
Bill Kirschman
Harold Kruger
Ludy Langer
Henry Luning
Helen Moses
Bunmei Nakama
William "Opelu" Pai
Charles Pung
Coach Yoshito Sagawa
Soichi Sakamoto
Alan Stack
Jimmy Tanaka
Mariechen Wehselau
Dr. Richard You

2002 inductees


Fujiko Katsutani
Evelyn Kawamoto-Konno
Ford Konno
Chic Miyamoto
Keo Nakama
Aileen Riggin Soule
Bill Smith
Pokey Watson Richardson
Bill Woolsey


Keala O'Sullivan
Aileen Riggin Soule

Water polo

Leigh Josephson
Ken Smith

Masters swimming

Dr. Harold Sexton
Jim Welch

Channel swimming

Dr. Harry Huffaker
Keo Nakama


Miri LarRieu
Al Minn