LIHUE—At 4 p.m. on a sunny, tradewind-afternoon, Kaua’i High School Pool is
In homes across Kaua’i, MTV is blaring, Sony Playstations are
kicking into gear, and parents are beginning to arrive home, ready to put the
workday behind them.
Next to Kaua’i High pool, the big spool of red and
white lane lines turns slowly as the lines are unwound across the pool deck.
The only sound is of the pool filter humming, and the plastic lines scraping
Kaua’i cyberspace is humming, as phones and modems connect
tender minds to other tender and not-so-tender minds. Junk food circulates
among inert, young bodies parked in front of televisions sets that proclaim
“You can eat anything you want and not exercise if you use this magic diet
One-by-one, anchor rings are screwed into the side of the
pool. The lines are stretched across the water and secured to the anchor rings.
Finally, white, typed pages of meet results are posted in the center of the
pool bulletin board. The lengthening shadows indicate that the evening
activities are soon to begin.
Orlando Anaya, his set-up for Mokihana
Aquatic’s swim practice complete, sits on the low wall next to the entrance to
the pool. A car pulls up, fifteen minutes early for practice. Kapaa Fire
Captain, Mitchell Ikeda and his wife Carol, a special education teacher at
Eleele Elementary arrive, trailed by their eleven year-old daughter,
Carol Ikeda is pleased with her daughter’s current interest in
Mokihana. “It’s fun, but it’s structured – the kids are having a great time,
and the parents are all nice.”
The Ikeda’s turn and greet Eileen DuBois and
her twelve-year old daughter Roxanne. Within five minutes the other members of
Mokihana Aquatics have assembled, huddled around photos of the Hilo Meet-their
For Mokihana Aquatics the Hilo Meet signaled the return from an
extended absence on the competitive scene. Although it’s been nine years since
the last time they competed, Mokihana was not only remembered for their
distinctive style, but they made an incredible new impression in their
Jason Ebesu, who shaved almost nine seconds off his entry time
in the 100 yard breast stroke, gloried in the chance to compete in a
nationally-sanctioned event “It was the chance to be in a real
Suddenly the comfortable laughter and talking over the photos gives
way to action, as Orlando Anaya slips into his Coach “O” persona, “Lane Two!”
he says, directing the tall and athletic fifteen year old Erin Emberson to her
lane for the practice. “Come on! Let’s go!
By team consensus, the two
heroes of the Hilo Meet are twelve-year old Katelyn Umetsu, and 10-year old
Keenan KaiKane (“Waterman”) Anaya-the eldest son of Orlando Anaya. During the
practice they are always in close proximity to each other, the alpha female and
male respectively, well-suited to each other’s co-championship.
a first place in the 50 yard backstroke with a time of 38.84, allowing her to
take a crack at qualifying for the state championships. The younger Anaya took
a total of four first-place ribbons and also made times that allow him to
participate in state-qualifying events. When asked how it was to be the coach’s
son, he says with a shy smile, “Both good and bad. Sometimes he expects me to
go faster than other people.”
For Coach “O”, the meet was a gratifying
reunion with old associates, and a chance to put his inexperienced team to the
“You know, when we got there, they had a brochure that listed current
record-holders for various events. The last time Mokihana competed was in 1991.
We still have six standing records from back then. Here I was, with my young,
hand-picked team, none of whom had ever been in this kind of competition. I was
just blown away, by what they did.”
Anaya erupts into his signature
whistle, a cross between hailing a cab and whistling for an encore at a rock
concert. Ten Heads pop up from the water and all the thrashing in the water
ceases, “Don’t breath on the TURN!” The heads return to face down in the water
and the thrashing resumes. He paces up and down the sideline, looking for flaws
to fix. “Stretch it out! Keep those heads DOWN! More level…flatter! FLATTER!
Go Erin, GO!”
Anaya returned full-time to Mokihana Aquatics, initially with
the Masters Swimmer program for adults and young adults focused on perfecting
personal excellence in swimming. Participants include Kaua’i Firefighters
Maureen Higa and Clyde Weddell; Calvin Umetsu the father of Katelyn, and
Anaya’s wife, Avis. The adults train alongside the youths.
When Higa is
asked if they act as role models for the kids, she defers to the kids, saying
that as fire fighters they draw inspiration from the kids. “We’re supposed to
be in shape, so when we see what these kids are doing then we have to tell
ourselves—if they can do it, we have to be able to do it!.”
hand-picked crew came to him in various ways last year. Several participated in
Learn-To-Swim programs over the summer; others were recommended to Mokihana by
their High School swim coach, and several others were involved in a “Winning
Spirit Camp” developed by USA Swimming, and conducted by Anaya.
summer of 1999, Anaya issued more than 200 certifications to over a hundred
Kaua’i Youths in the Learn-To-Swim program. His plans for the coming year, view
last summer as a “test-run”. “We intend to triple that number this year, and to
expand the swim team to several times its current size.”
Anaya, a former
champion bodysurfer and life-long water safety advocate has been in the
forefront of water safety education for the Kaua’i community and for the state
at large. At the age of 19, having been a protégé of renowned
waterman “Uncle” Bob Via, Anaya began teaching Kaua’i Keiki to swim at Hanalei
Over the years, Anaya has taught several generations of school
children swimming skills and has developed a reputation for staying abreast of
the most current knowledge in aquatics, maintaining high standards, high-energy
and an excellent rapport with children and adults alike. Anaya laments the fact
that he is the only certified coach on the island, with a nationally affiliated
“We need more competition and opportunities for kids all over
Kaua’i. Lihu’e is a long drive for people in Hanalei, Waimea and Po’ipu but
there are some great prospects for competitive swimmers in those
It’s almost seven o’clock, and the area lights cast refracted
illumination into the puddles surrounding the pool.
“Don’t you owe me 500
yards?!” shouts Anaya to a swimmer that has paused.
13-year old, Tianna
Caylor, shivers while she is interviewed. Caylor, who was too young for her
high school team, won a third and fourth place ribbon in Hilo. “Practice is
really good, but sometimes I feel really, really tired and sore…and I feel
When asked why she keeps coming back, she mentions that it’s a chance
to hang out with her friends, have different experiences and indulge her love
for the water. When pressed, however, she admits what her favorite part of
swimming is “Getting the ribbons”.
Finally, wet shivering bodies emerge
from the water to take comfort in thick towels, as family groups assemble.
Andrew Ellis a scuba instructor with SeaSport Divers, has arrived to pick up
his step-daughter, Tianna.
Ellis thinks Mokihana has a very effective
program, noting that, “They have a good facility, their coach is intelligent
and he knows how to motivated children. That’s something not many people can