WAIPOULI — Hours of toil paid off in more than one way for the Mokihana Aquatics Swim Club Wednesday.
The Mokihana Aquatics program was the recipient of a grant from the Rotary Club of Kapa‘a for the swimmers’ effort at the Rotary Club’s annual “Taste of Hawai‘i” fundraiser held each June at the Smith’s Tropical Paradise.
Mokihana swimmers are part of the volunteer crew who turn out to help the Rotarians with the event, performing a variety of tasks ranging from rubbish pickup to running supplies to the various booths manned by chefs from around the state.
Beyond the contribution to the Mokihana Aquatics program, the Rotary Club of Kapa‘a also helped with sponsoring one of the club’s swimmers, Meagan Sims, to help get her to the state age group championships on the Big Island.
Sims was one of the Mokihana representatives who accepted the Rotarians’ grant.
“There are no words to describe how thankful I am,” Sims said, expressing her appreciation to the Rotarians for their help. “I would like all of you to know that without you, I would not have had the chance to advance and perform at the next level in swimming.”
Working through the various qualifying stages here, a few weeks before the state championships, Sims came to the realization that there was no way she would be able to compete.
“I knew that I had that capability to compete at that level, but at the same time, I knew my mom could not put up the amount of money to send me to Kona,” Sims said.
Coming to grips with how far she had come, the senior at Kaua‘i High School, and one of its leading girl swimmers, Sims said she just hoped something would happen that would enable her to compete at the championships.
At practice one day, she was informed that the Rotary Club of Kapa‘a agreed to sponsor her for the championship, one of the Rotarians pointing out how “Meagan swims like a fish.”
“Every single time I got on the block I just told myself, ‘Meagan, you can’t let them down; the Rotary Club got you here,’” she said.
In Kona, Sims swam her best meet.
“I swam really fast and did better than I thought I would,” the swimmer said. “I ended up swimming in the finals, once, but in many other events, I was either the first or second alternate. I could not believe it; I was in the Top Ten swimmers in my age group in the state.”
Sims said things steadily improved at the meet.
“In the prelims of the 200 Butterfly, I knew I had a chance and went for it,” she said. “I did a personal best in the prelims, and a couple of hours later, did another personal best, improving by four seconds while managing to make a Zone time.”
That was in the finals of the event where she finished fourth.
Sims said she plans on using her skills and experience to teach others in the sport as well as try and swim for the University of Hawai‘i at the collegiate level.
But the swimmer is quick to note how it was the help of people in the community who helped her attain the goals she set out to achieve.
“This showed me that when you put your mind to something and you have the self-motivation, anything is possible,” Sims said. “It made me thankful for all the caring people out there, especially the Rotary Club that lent a helping hand in pursing others’ dreams.”
In addition to the grant presented to Mokihana Aquatics, Ken Stokes, the president of the Rotary Club of Kapa‘a, presented Sims with a wooden pen bearing the club’s logo.
“I know you can use this on your journey as you ‘set sail into an amazing future,’” Stokes said.