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.
HALL OF FAME
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.
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
George "Dad" Center
Clarence "Buster" Crabbe
Charles "Sparky" Kawamoto
William "Opelu" Pai
Coach Yoshito Sagawa
Dr. Richard You
Aileen Riggin Soule
Pokey Watson Richardson
Aileen Riggin Soule
Dr. Harold Sexton
Dr. Harry Huffaker