LIHUE — The public is invited to enjoy the competition when Mokihana Aquatics opens the gates to its 25th Fun Meet Saturday and Sunday at the Kauai High School pool.
Mokihana Coach Orlando “O” Anaya said events start at 9 a.m. on each day, with Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. welcoming guests during the opening ceremony Saturday.
“This year, beause it is our 25th anniversary meet, the Fun Meet is being dedicated to the late Bill Smith of Honolulu,” Anaya said. “He was a close personal friend and one of my mentors. He introduced me to Doc Councilman, one of Smith’s team mates at Ohio State University and one of the greatest swim coaches.”
Anaya said Smith was a frequent visitor to Kauai where he would lead workshops and do guest speaking stints for Mokihana swimmers and parents.
Smith, who started swimming competitively in 1939 at the Waikiki Natatorium at 15 years of age, participated in the nationals in California in 1940, finishing second to Bunny Nakama, younger brother of Keo Nakama, in the mile.
But the highlight of the meet was Smith meeting swim coach Soichi Sakamoto of Maui.
The meeting moved Smith to Maui so he could train with Sakamoto at the Three Year Swim Club, which was formed in 1937 with the goal of making the Olympics in 1940. Sakamoto trained his swimmers in the irrigation ditches of Puunene, Maui, where the swimmers practiced swimming against the current.
Graduating from Baldwin High School in 1942, Smith earned a scholarship to Ohio State where he swam for one year before joining the Navy after World War II broke out.
Following the war, he returned where he won three Freestyle events, one being a world record and the other two, American records.
During his years at Ohio State, Smith was undefeated in three years of dual meets and earned four-time All American, setting seven world records and winning 14 U.S. national championships, seven NCAA, and seven AAU titles.
When the Olympics resumed in 1948, Smith was captain of the swim team, earning gold medals in the 400 free and the 800 free relay.
Following the Olympics, Smith returned to Honolulu where he became the director of the City and County of Honolulu lifeguard program. He later became the swim coach of the Kamehameha Swim Club for nearly 20 years.
Anaya said in addition to performing in the shadow of the late Bill Smith, the Fun Meet will feature swimmers from seven swim clubs, including the two from Kauai.
In addition to the swimming races, the MokiOhana, as Anaya labels his parent volunteer crew, will offer food from the food booths and other activities.
Anaya said the East Kauai Lions Club will be out in force as volunteers, and have even planned to enter the annual skit and cheer contests.
• Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.