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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, September 2, 2003

Oyakawa leads 2003 Hall class

 •  Australians conquer rough swim

By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer

Olympians Yoshi Oyakawa, Sonny Tanabe, George Onekea, Brent Berk and Chris Duplanty highlight the Hawai'i Swimming Hall of Fame's newest class, which will officially be inducted in ceremonies Nov. 15 at the Elks Club in Waikiki.

Fourteen inductees will join the 49 charter members who were inducted last year; Jim Welch was inducted in 2002 as a masters swimmer and will be enshrined this time in the ocean swimming category.

Other members of this year's class are Wally Nakamoto, Dr. Heidi Ferguson (née McElhaney), Pete Powlison, Joan Osborne, Charlotte Costello, Diane Stowell, Morris "Mo" Mathews, Fred Trask and Dr. Pete Okumoto.

The Hall of Fame was founded last year by the Hawai'i Swimming Legacy Project, a non-profit organization dedicated toward preserving the state's rich aquatic sports history.

Swimming legends Duke Kahanamoku, "Buster Crabbe," Keo Nakama and Soichi "Coach" Sakamoto were among the 49 charter members of the inaugural class.

This year's class is headed by Oyakawa, who won a gold medal in the 100-meter backstroke at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland. His time of 1 minute, 5.4 seconds broke the Olympic record set by Adolph Kiefer in 1936. Oyakawa also was a member of the 1956 U.S. Olympic team in Melbourne, Australia, and was an All-American at Ohio State University.

He won 26 major national titles in AAU and NCAA competition and later set several national and world records in masters swimming.

Tanabe, a schoolmate of Oyakawa's at Hilo High, was second in the 200 freestyle at the 1956 Olympic trials and swam a leg for the United States in the 800 free relay at the Melbourne Olympics. He also was a three-time All-American at Indiana University and set four national records as a masters swimmer.

Onekea was a third Hawai'i representative on the 1956 Olympic team, qualifying in the 400 and 1,500 freestyle. He also was an AAU national champion in the 1500 free.

Berk, a Punahou School graduate, took eighth in the 400 free at the 1968 Olympics at Mexico City. He also was an All-American at Stanford.

Duplanty helped the U.S. water polo team take the silver medal at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, and also was a member of the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympic teams. He was a three-time All-American at UC Irvine and was named Big West Conference Scholar Athlete of the Year in 1989.

Tickets for the Nov. 15 banquet and ceremony will be available after Saturday by calling Tanabe, who is the Hall's president, at 735-1088. The inductees are chosen by a selection committee that works with a written set of criteria for each category: swimming, diving, coaching, water polo, masters swimming and ocean swimming.

"Things are looking up, we're getting donations," said Tanabe, who initiated the project two years ago. "We still need a home for our displays and exhibits, which won a national award. But people have said, 'It's about time someone did something like this for swimming.' "

Following is a list of accomplishments for each of the other 2003 inductees:

Wally Nakamoto (coach): Still active in his 47th year as a diving coach, including 30 years at the University of Hawai'i. Among his pupils was Keala

O'Sullivan, who won the bronze medal in the 3-meter springboard at the 1968 Olympics.

• Dr. Heidi Ferguson (McElhaney) (water polo): Selected to the first women's Junior National Team in 1987, then moved up to the Senior National "B" Team and eventually the Senior National "A" Team from 1989-94, helping the U.S. achieve a top five ranking internationally. She also won UH's Jack Bonham Award in 1992, the school's highest athletic honor.

Pete Powlison (masters swimming): Set 12 world masters swimming records and won five gold medals at the 1986 World Masters Championships.

• Joan Osborne (masters swimming): Set three world masters records and 25 national masters swim records, being named to the Masters All-America team 14 times.

Charlotte Costello (masters swimming): Held four world records and won six international championships, earning Masters All-America status for 17 consecutive years.

Diane Stowell (masters and ocean swimming): Winner of 20 WaikikiRoughwater age-group swim titles, as well as the U.S. Masters National Open and FINA Hawaiian Open Water Championship. Won 17 national masters swimming championships.

Morris "Mo" Mathews (masters and ocean swimming): Won 12 Waikiki Roughwater age-group swim titles, as well as several national and international masters swimming championships.

Jim Welch (ocean swimming): Winner of 11 Waikiki Roughwater age-group swim titles.

Fred Trask (ocean swimming): Winner of seven Waikiki Roughwater age-group swim titles and masters swimming events.

Dr. Pete Okumoto (masters swimming): Held national and masters swimming records and won several national masters championships.