About a year and a half ago Mokihana Aquatics received a letter saying that I was nominated for the Hawaii Swimming Hall of Fame. It was the first year of eligibility for consideration for induction by having met the minimum criteria of coaching in Hawaii for more than 35 years.
About six months ago we received a letter saying that I would be inducted with the 2018 class of the Hawaii Swimming Hall of Fame. What an amazing honor this was for me and for all Kauai. Being honored alongside swimming greats like Duke Kahanamoku, Bill Smith, Ford Konno, and legendary coaches like Soichi Sakamoto, Harry Mamizuka, and Spencer Shiraishi. It’s humbling.
This lifetime achievement is only made possible because of our great support system here on Kauai, and it continues today to provide outstanding service to Kauai. I will be the youngest coach to date to be inducted and the only coach from Kauai. A colleague of mine told me, “if there is a younger coach or another coach from Kauai who gets inducted it would not be in your lifetime given the 35 year minimum criteria.”
Where does one begin to mention all the support through the years? James Kitamura who started me on my journey? Four of the greatest mentors anyone could have: Coach Bill Smith, Coach Ed Kawachika, Coach Harry Mamizuka, and Coach Spencer Shiraishi? A loving family, and a most patient wife? The ohana of Nishi, Womack, Sato, Capuy, Aki, Ishida, Masuoka and Idica, just to name a very few? There have been so many. My apologies to the hundreds of families that I can’t name; you know who you are and I love you guys.
The supporters have stood by Mokihana Aquatics throughout the years. Thousands of swimmers have gone through our program. Our numerous Directors and Officers have supported the vision that we built. We’ve been supported by the state DOE, the County of Kauai and its past administrations starting from Uncle Tony Kunimura to the present Bernard Carvalho, Jr. We’ve been supported by the community at large, from Kekaha to Haena.
The North Shore old timers still argue that I am ‘Uncle O’ and not ‘Coach O’ which I love, but only the old timers from the area know why—the north shore secret. That’s where I got my start on Kauai when I moved here in 1979. Yes, I always said I was not from Kauai, but from Kaneohe.
I moved here at the young age of 18 and got a Lifeguard job at the Hanalei pier. Started Learn To Swim at Hanalei Bay in 1980 with the old time locals. What wonderful times. They teased me as “the 24-hour lifeguard” because I lived in my truck under the pine trees at the pier. We started Jr. Lifeguards back then with a friend of mine on Oahu, Kenny Rust, in 1981.
We went forward with a competitive swim project and a Learn To Swim program that was, and still is, supported by so many. Mokihana has been progressive in every area of aquatic recreation and safety. We are the only Learn To Swim program in the state that incorporates an ocean safety component. We train and have working Jr. Lifeguards all summer long.
Our Jr. Lifeguards are also trained as Jr. Leaders and work more than 100 hours each summer. They are all volunteers, teaching children how to swim.
They say that swimming is about the stories told. After 40 years I could write several books. Mokihana Aquatics can tell you about swimming history in Hawaii. Here is new history. Kauai, I love you as this honor goes to you—all of you. Mokihana Aquatics has been blessed with the greatest support system ever. Kauai has supported us through thick and thin and I want to thank all who have supported ‘Kauai’s Best.’
So, our Kauai supporters have garnered an honor that is so prestigious. Swimming is what Hawaii is all about. May I most humbly conclude by thanking the four most important individuals in making this possible:
1) Winston Kawamoto, Mokihana Aquatics Associate Head Coach for 20 years. This man taught us so much that he can never be repaid.
2) Jeff Rahill, Assistant Coach for 17 years. Jeff retired four years ago and still helps Mokihana Aquatics, just like Winston.
3) Bridget Hoppe Maas, team nutritionist and trainer. This lady helped Mokihana Aquatics for our direction.
4) Bo Domingcil, a young coach who showed Mokihana Aquatics that there are truly great young men out there.
Thank you, Kauai, you earned this.
Most humbly and respectfully,
Orlando S. Anaya , aka Uncle O, Coach O, Mr. O,
Mokihana Aquatic president/head coach