When swimmer Kelsey Tanaka jumped into the Kaua‘i High School pool for the week-long swim camp, he expected it to be like just another day of practice.
“It definitely exceeded my expectations,” he said. “It was more technical work than I thought. I wanted to come here to get better and faster.”
The camp started on Monday and met throughout the week for two hours a day. In that time, Tanaka said he improved.
“I improved my time,” he said. “We worked on different things and I’m faster now.”
The camp was coordinated by the Mokihana Aquatics swim program. University of Hawai‘i head swim coach Victor Wales flew in for the week to do this camp free for the kids.
“I saw a lot of improvement,” Wales said. “They might not have a lot of opportunities as the kids on the Mainland, but it’s the passion for the sport that drives them.”
One of the reasons he wanted to do the camp is because he doesn’t think the university cares enough about the local swimmers.
“By me coming here, at least twice a year, (the kids) get to know me and the University of Hawai‘i swim program,” he said. “This is the first year that we’re offering the clinic to clubs and this is the fourth one this year. It’s the clubs like the Mokihana Aqautics club that keep the sport going.”
He already had an inside track to some of Kaua‘i’s swimmers. Kaua‘i High School graduate Keenan Anaya is a freshman on the Hawai‘i swim team.
“This year we have Keenan and I loved his work ethic,” Wales said. “He embodies everything you want in a swimmer. He was my example of what Kaua‘i kids were like.”
On Monday, the swimmers, who ranged from 8 to 17 years old, worked on stroke drills and workouts for the breast stroke and butterfly. Tuesday, they worked on racing strategies and distance training. They were off Wednesday.
Then Thursday, they picked up more stroke techniques. Yesterday, they focused on starts and turns.
Mokihana Aquatics coach Orlando Anaya watched over the camp.
“(Wales) asked me if this is what I wanted and I told him, no,” he said. “I told him this is more, because it really is. He teaches them the same things we teach them, but he says it differently.”
Anaya said he saw that the kids really paid attention to him.
“It’s good for someone like him, someone of his stature as a Division I, NCAA coach to come here and do this,” Anaya said.
This past swim season was Wales’ second season with Hawai‘i. He said he plans on doing more recruiting locally and already has some Hawai‘i swimmers in mind for next year.